Last year, in May, I volunteered at The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest. I had a great time and would have been happy to do it again this year but the dates didn’t fit in with my schedule. When I arrived home last year I found on the door mat a Thank you from Ballymaloe along with a ‘voucher’ to enjoy a day at the school to include a garden visit, lunch and a cookery demonstration. I realised that I could make this fit into my plans and booked for Thursday 9 June. Upon arrival I was given a badge and garden plan and after a cup of tea had a wander around the fascinating grounds surrounding the Cookery School.
The Water Garden is the peaceful garden with a small pond and stream located just behind the Cookery School.
“Palais Des Poulets” – source of Cookery School eggs
At Ballymaloe ingredients are of paramount importance and the garden/farm here supplies high quality produce for use in the kitchens. The pictures above and below are of The Kitchen Garden. It’s planted as a traditional Potager or Ornamental Kitchen Garden. Besides the traditional vegetables there are edible flowers, unusual and rare species and the whole is laid out in diamonds and squares with beautiful herringbone brick paths separating.
Lydia’s Garden is a restored garden using Lydia Strangman’s watercolours and old photographs from the 1930s. Lydia lived here with her father Wilson Strangman before the Allen’s took over Ballymaloe.
Floor of the Summer House in Lydia’s Garden
Gardeners at Work in The Herb Garden as seen from The Tree House
The Old Pleasure Garden with Lake and Folly
The Amazing Shell House and Herbaceous Borders
The four pictures above show just a portion of the wonderful exotic shell and pebble work. The deceptive simple exterior of the garden pavilion with gothic windows and a steep slate roof gives no clue as to the exotic interior encrusted with shells from all over the world. The folly was created in 1995 by Blott Kerr-Wilson to suggestions by Tim and Darina Allen. As you can see it is a simply stunning work of art.
A New History of Ballymaloe for sale in the Cookery School shop
There was much more to see in the grounds including a Farm Walk and the Glasshouses but I was building up an appetite and returned to the Cookery School for lunch. This consists of the food cooked that morning by the 12-week certificate students. It’s all brought in by the students and helpers and we choose a place and help ourselves. At the table I was joined by Darina and Rachel Allen and Rory O’Connell and by past students and other members of the Ballymaloe staff.
From the Dining Room at about 2pm we made our way to one of the Demonstration Rooms where we joined the course students for an afternoon of demonstrations lead by Rachel Allen who is a showman of the first order. The time flew by and more and more dishes emerged from the oven and pans in the time it usually takes me to peel a few spuds and chop a few onions!
Rachel Demonstrating for the Students
The Delicious Results of which we could all have a taste