BLACKROCK PARK GARDENS
The various gardens in Blackrock Park are identified on the diagram here. Click on the corresponding link to find information on each garden.
I Exercise Area
M Children’s Playground
N Sports Zone
O Leaf Bank
P Picnic Area
Q Seomra Glas
A. Biodiversity Garden
The Biodiversity Garden in Blackrock Park was planted by local children working alongside Blackrock Tidy Towns volunteers under the direction of Dr. Pamela Whitaker of Groundswell. It was created in 2011.
Biodiversity gardening involves planting a community of different kinds of plants that benefit both wildlife and people. The garden includes vegetables, herbs, edible wild plants, soft fruits, fruit trees and flowers. The original native hedge of hawthorn, blackthorn and ivy along the north side of the garden provides shelter from the north winds and is a habitat and source of food for birds, while the willow hedge along the other three sides supports bees and other pollinating insects.
Just inside the main entrance to the Biodiversity Garden is the Seomra Glas (an outdoor classroom) – a special place to learn about the role of nature and gardens, and to celebrate Irish traditions related to the growing seasons. It is used by local schools and community groups for nature workshops and events.
Like a natural woodland, the taller layers of the garden include crabapple, rowan, damson, and other fruit trees, while the underneath layer of beneficial plants includes culinary and medicinal herbs like yarrow, woodruff, salad burnet, meadowsweet, lemon balm, wild bergamot, borage, sage, rosemary.
Willow (Sally/Salix/Saileach), with its pollen-providing catkins, supports bees and other pollinating insects. Its long pliable shoots are used in basket making and wickerwork.
Wildflowers are very important as they help maintain a healthy eco-system. They attract beneficial insects into the garden that feed and make their home in them. In turn these insects help to fertilise our crops, thus producing food for us to eat.
Plants especially attractive for bees and butterflies are included in the garden as a continuation of the biodiversity theme. The Biodiversity Garden creates a nectar corridor linking it with other gardens in the park and with the gardens of nearby houses, thus creating a clear path for bees and butterflies to do their very important work of pollination.
There are many dry stone Louth Bank walls around Blackrock. These are important habitats for insects, which make their homes in the spaces between the stones. Two semi-circular walls were built in the Garden in the style of Louth Banks walls, backed by banks of soil, and house many insects which feed on, and help pollinate, the plants in the garden.
For detailed information on the plants in the garden visit Groundswell’s website http://groundswellheartofthewood.wordpress.com/
B. Medieval and Square Foot Garden
The creation of a Medieval Garden was a joint effort by St. Oliver Plunkett’s School, Blackrock Park Committee and Blackrock Tidy Towns. It was a response to Louth County Council’s schools’ Eco-Tribe competition in spring 2016. The beds are set against a backdrop of three medieval early Gothic stained glass windows re-interpreted in woven willow. The windows are underplanted with colourful snapdragons which echo the effect of sunlight percolating through stained glass. This garden is maintained by the students in collaboration with the Park volunteers. Click here for a listing of the flowers and plants in the garden.
Square Foot Garden
Three raised beds are used to demonstrate to non-gardeners an easy way to grow intensively a variety of edibles and flowers in a few square feet of backyard space. The method is fun, looks great, is low maintenance, no-skill, and great crops and flowers are virtually guaranteed.
C. “The Sally Garden” (Herb Garden)
This garden was designed, created and planted by the children of St. Francis School, “The Sally Gardeners” Eco Tribe, in 2014 with guidance from teachers, parents and Blackrock Tidy Towns. Its three connected circles reflect the St. Francis school crest. The children used natural and recycled materials including willow (hence the name Sally Garden), wool, old broom handles, old wine bottle corks, and planted with medicinal, culinary and flowering herbs.
The project was part of a schools initiative organised by Louth County Council.
Blackrock Tidy Towns work in partnership with St. Francis’ School in maintaining the garden.
The ten plants used in the garden are:
Santolina, Lavender, Salvia/Sage, Verbena Bonariesis, Feverfew, Golden Oregano, Lemon Balm, Chervil, Fennel and of course Willow/Sally.
D. Nursery Garden
Young plants for use in the park and the village are propagated here, or brought on from whips. It includes Chamomile, Mara de Bois strawberries, Hornbeam, Scots Pine etc. Close by are the compost bins – their output enriches new beds in the park.
The Home Composting Demonstration Site is also located in the Nursery Garden. Here you can see at first hand how easy it is to compost garden and food waste, and to choose a system that suits your needs.
Leaves Don’t Leave! Leaves from the public roads are now retained in the village, harvested by Tidy Towns (assisted by the CE Scheme and the Probation Service), and composted in our newest leaf ‘bank’ in the park, for use in our tree-planting programmes. The bank is prominently on view in the park (near the Sports Zone ) to increase public awareness of the benefits.
E. Bee & Butterfly Garden
This garden was designed, created and planted by the children of St. Fursey’s School, Haggardstown, “The Pollinators” Eco Tribe, in 2013 to encourage and support the pollinating work of bees and butterflies who are under threat and need our assistance. Without bees and butterflies the human race will not survive. The project was part of a schools initiative organised by Louth County Council.
Blackrock Tidy Towns work in partnership with St. Fursey’s School in maintaining the garden.
The plants used in the garden incluse Heather,Osteospermum, Lupins, Saxifrage, Sweet Pea, Vinca, Lavender, Dahlia, Sweet William, Wallflower, Iberis, and Aubrietia.
F. Intergenerational Cottage Garden
Two small semi-circular gardens at the western side of the Park allow children, their parents and grandparents, and Blackrock Tidy Towns volunteer gardeners to interact in planting and observing its growth. The garden is designed to recall cottage gardens of a bygone era, with hollihocks, lupins and sweet pea. Low log seats nearby offer an opportunity to relax and reminisce to the sights and fragrances of yesteryear.
Plant and seed management
Seeds are collected from sweet peas, nasturtium and sunflowers in Autumn and set in pots in September. They are planted back out into the park gardens in April – May.
These flowers are divided in October: Lupins, daisies, achilla and ladies mantel. They are put into the nursery bed in the park until March and planted out into the park gardens in Spring.
Slips are taken from osteospernum and erysimum in September, potted up, and kept in glasshouses belonging to Tidy Towns volunteers over winter. They are hardened off and planted out in the gardens in May.
G. Wild Flower Meadow
This area of the park has poor soil. Some 136 square metres has been converted into a wild flower meadow in which are sown 40 seed species chosen to attract bees, butterflies and, later in the season, birds.
Birdsfoot Trefoil, Black Meddick, Burdock, Common Vetch, Corn Marigold, Corn Poppy, Corncockle, Cornflower, Cowslip, Devil’s Bit Scabious, Field Scabious, Fleabane, Foxglove, Greater Trefoil, Hedge Garlic Mustard, Hemp Agrimony, Kidney Vetch, Lady’s Bedstraw, Lesser Knapweed, Marjoram, Scented Mayweed, Meadow Vetchling, Meadowsweet, Ox-eye Daisy, Purple Loosestrife, Ragged Robin, Red Campion, Red Clover, Ribwort Plantain, Shepherds Purse, Sorrel, St Johns Wort, Teasel, Wild Angelica, Wild Carrot, Yarrow, Dames Violet, Dog Violet, Wood Sage
Further information on biodiversity planting and other aspects of the park gardens is available on the website of Groundswell: http://groundswellheartofthewood.wordpress.com/
H. Woodland Garden & Woodland Slopes
The Woodland Garden replicates the diversity of a woodland habitat. It is the work of the “Eco Tribe” of St Francis’ School in 2015, in partnership with Blackrock Tidy Towns.
The garden depicts a young child’s first small steps into the Infant grades. How, with each step, their world enlarges and their stride gains confidence. Each footprint is an exact replica taken from a pupil in each of the classes. Finally, they reach the top and are well prepared to enter a wider world.
The second story is that of an Irish woodland – its diverse layers of mosses, helxine, ferns and flowers at ground level and up to the tree canopy. Over the months leaves will emerge, followed by blossom. Insects, birds, trees and plants will support each other – to provide a bounty of crab apple, nut-bearing hazels, and woodland strawberries. Finally, even a decaying willow stump provides a welcoming site for ferns, and last year’s leaves slowly become rich food to nourish the woodland’s plants and insects.
This initiative, begun in 2015, involved returning two steep slopes which border the stream to a more natural woodland state. The tree planting is hazel, weeping willow and amelanchier, and will in time become quite dense with an under-planting of wild garlic, native bluebells, mosses, ferns etc. Thus one enters the park from the Community Centre over a bridge to the sight and sound of water flowing over a weir with woodland left and right, creating a sense that one is leaving a world of concrete and entering a more restful, natural world. This effect will take some years to be fully achieved. However, it will be attractive as it develops.
Each tree has been, and will be, planted by a grandchild with their grandparent, so that the Woodland simultaneously links the village to the park, and links two generations.
J. Sensory Garden
With its large seats, tall Hornbeam sentinel trees and block planting of large colour areas, the Sensory Garden invites from a distance curiosity and a closer look. The garden is located near the adult exercise Area, and combines with it to make this area of the park exciting.
The seating shape creates a feeling of enclosure before engaging the senses of touch, scent, sound; sight and taste:-
- The soft feel of Lamb’s Ear in the centre bed
- The feel of the mosaics on the seating. They were created from sea-glass and small beach stones collected on the local beaches and crafted by volunteers under the direction of a mosaic artist.
- The scents of Mexican Orange Blossom, Lavender, David Austin Roses, The Bride pearl bush
- In this high and exposed area, the breeze rustling the hornbeams and grasses will combine with the sounds of insects seeking nectar from the flowers. For this reason plants have been selected that will flower at different times or for prolonged periods.
- The choices we made will, we hope, create visual stimulus for the visitor because these choices encourage insect activity and swaying of taller plants. The visitor’s eye can also be seduced by varied colour palette and shapes of the planting over several summer months.
- The taste of strawberries.
Plant List: Hydrangeas; Roses; Catmint; Ornamental grasses; Lavender; Geraniums; Brunneras; Bergenias; Geums; Mexican Orange Blossom; Pearl Bush; Lamb’s Ear.
K. Home Composting Demonstration Site
L. The Orchard
The opportunity to create a varied fruit orchard arose when a local fruit grower donated a young orchard to the park along with some windbreak trees. These provide a haven for pollinating insects. The fruit trees include damson, quince, greengage and plum, and there are also raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries. You can wander through the orchard along the pathways provided, and you will also find a small arboretum on the slope behind the orchard which includes a variety of trees.
Fruits include apples, pears, blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries, damson, quince, greengage and plum.