When Kloë Wood steps outdoors, it’s usually never without a wicker basket hanging from her arm. The edible paradise that she and partner Adam Carveth, founders of Two Green Shoots, have created in the almost six years since they have been in Glengarriff, aptly named The Garden of Re-imagination, boasts over 200 varieties of rare and unusual plants, as well as many native species; many of which end up as ingredients in Kloë’s kitchen. Throughout June, July, August, and early September, the public are invited to explore this beautiful haven at the foot of the Beara peninsula in a series of edible experiences – including a new ‘Guided Foraging Walk and Fireside Lunch Feast’. As Kloë strolls around their new woodland foraging trail, a multi-sensory botanical adventure, it’s with a sense of passion and purpose, as she points out to Mary O’Brien some of the many edibles that most of us walk past unseeing every day: Her basket fills up with delicious greens in no time.
Bright green spruce tips, high in Vitamin C, can be used when making a variety of dishes from salads to syrups or just simply pour boiling water over for a delicious tea. “Interestingly each spruce tree tastes different,” shares Kloe animatedly. Bramble tips, she says, are an excellent accompaniment to other greens in pestos or sauces. Hawthorn and whitethorn blossom, are used like elderflower, to make syrups and cordials. Wood sorrel adds a lemony kick to salads. Later in the summer, she will make marmalade using the berries from the Rowan tree.
The foraging trail, just completed, is set on two-and-a-half acres within the impressive 280-acre site that stretches right up to the Kerry border. Their vision is to re-wild much of the land over the coming years with ribbons of mixed species woodland and edible tree crops on the lower flanks of Esk Mountain.
“Our hope is that this and future trails will connect people with the magic of what used to be here – temperate rainforest humming with life rather than the razed and ravaged landscape, which sadly now dominates and puts Ireland 227th out of 240 EU countries for biodiversity.”
Over ten of the wettest days in March, with the help of a team of landscaping students and WOOFERS, the trail pathways were created and finished using a mulch made from the smorgasbord of invasive species including Rhododendron ponticum, Chilean Myrtle, Himalayan honeysuckle and Griselinia littoralis cleared out of the woodland.
“Taking out these invasive plants means that there is so much more light now able to reach the woodland floor,” says Kloe. On the downside this also means that millions of dormant seeds will be springing to life over the coming years so the couple will have to be extra vigilant with weeding so that the mix of Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Alder, Oak, Willow, Scots Pine, Rowan and carpets of herbaceous and woody plants don’t get smothered once more.
“As well as connecting people to the flavours of this landscape, the new paths have created access for enabling us to be constantly monitoring for invasive species,” she says. “Each year just one mature ponticum plant produces a million seeds!”
In the fifties this site was owned by a German man, who bought it with the aim of creating a hunting and fishing retreat. Aside from digging lakes, he planted dense conifer forests that Adam and Kloe are thinning out now to let life back into the woods. ‘Within five or six years our hope is that with clearing and careful replanting the patches of coniferous desert will be transformed into a healthy woodland with a carpet of plants growing and tree saplings beginning to regenerate,” explains Kloë.
She points out pennywort growing on a group of rocks. The leaves are edible and taste slightly like peas. Further on past the duck pond, there’s a newly-planted Aronia, Blueberry and Tea plantation, as well as a small vineyard.
After an hour’s amble exploring and collecting edible plants, participants will get to gather around a crackling campfire for a demonstration on how to prepare the wild botanicals gathered on the walk into a delicious two-course picnic lunch. The menu, which changes with the season, might include dishes like Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup with Bread Rolls freshly baked on the campfire and filled with Wood Sorrel, Bramble Tip and Hawthorn Pesto, followed by Nettle and Honeysuckle Muffins topped with Woodland Blooms. A choice of Sparkling Spruce Tip Cooler, or a cleansing brew of Nettle and Water Mint Tea with Local Honey for refreshment will further enhance each diner’s connection with the surrounding landscape.
Off the foraging trail and closer to the house and Botanical B&B you’ll find the edible garden where the rest of the tours are hosted; here you’ll find such exotics as Sichuan pepper trees giving a harvest of pink peppercorns in the Autumn; Carolina-allspice bush – the stems used like cinnamon sticks and a giant celery-like plant called Fuki. “Delicious in risottos,” shares Kloë.
Other summer, edible experiences include a Breakfast Tour, an Afternoon Tea Tour, and a feast for all the senses – an immersive Garden Tour & Three Course Lunch Feast, freshly prepared by Kloë and Adam using seasonal botanicals from the gardens and surrounding landscape.
Other events to look forward to this Summer include a bushcraft skills weekend led by Outdoors Ireland, garden yoga brunches hosted by teacher Aileen Slein on the newly installed rooftop terraces and mindfulness workshops with nature coach Wendy Robinson.
For further information and tickets go to www.twogreenshoots.com.
The Garden of Re-imagination features on the West Cork Garden Trail, which boasts 23 fabulous gardens to explore this year. (www.westcorkgardentrail.com)
Mindfulness with Wendy Robinson
Wendy Robinson (pictured left) is a Chartered Psychologist, Nature Coach, and Accredited Mindfulness Teacher. She loves combining these three specialisms, to offer tailored support and advice to people from all walks of life.
“It’s important to me to be authentic and open,” she shares. “I don’t hide behind a professional mask; I struggle with life at times too, and have needed the support of others, to find my way through.”
Wendy’s experience and training is far-reaching ranging from psychology to psychotherapy to coaching to mindfulness in nature. She currently offers coaching supervision to support coaches in their practice; one-to-one coaching of leaders, managers and professionals; and mindfulness for stress and mindfulness in nature courses, online and in-person.
She will be running mindfulness classes in the Garden of Re-imagination in Glengarriff over the summer. In September she will be offering a three night Executive Retreat for business or civic leaders in these beautiful surroundings. This is an opportunity to get headspace and support to recharge your batteries, amongst fellow leaders. Combining time in nature with one-to-one coaching and sessions foraging and feasting, sunset kayaking in the ocean, and nature reserve walking this is a a sanctuary for busy, pressurised leaders, providing space for wondering, for insight, for healing and for inspiration.
At her home on the beautiful Sheep’s Head, Wendy will also be running a four-week mindfulness course in a series of two-hour sessions on Monday mornings or Wednesday afternoons throughout July. This is an all-women group suitable for beginners or those wishing to build on their mindfulness practice. Participants will take away a regular mindfulness practice for at home; access to audio recordings; mindfulness-in-nature practices and ideas; and reduced stress and improved wellbeing from regular mindfulness practice.
For more information, and to book your place, please contact Wendy: Wendy@WendyRobinson.org or 083 171 9104.