We were in a wonderful woodland garden recently, by the kind invitation of it’s creator.
We happened to be in Enniskillen as the guests of the local Soroptimists Organisation, with Averil Milligan and Brendan Little joining us as Roadshow panelists.
And as we were out and about we thought we would take the opportunity to go garden visiting, so the following morning we headed off to Newtownstewart to meet Uel Henderson whose lovely garden sits high above the River Strule.
It’s as well that wet weather seldom deters gardeners, because the soft rain which fell as we left Fermanagh had become relentless by the time we arrived in Tyrone. But no matter, we got Wellington-booted and spurred and set off as soon as we arrived to explore the garden with Uel.
Brendan was already familiar with the garden, but it was a first visit for the rest of us and Averil was particularly looking forward to seeing the species Rhododendron which grow there very happily. Many were fat with buds and all looked perfect in the soft woodland setting.
The garden near the house, which used to be a Methodist manse, is gently formal as befits its heritage, with an elegant lily- filled pond come summer and two wonderful carved canine sentries at the front door.
The woodland garden, looking truly atmospheric in the rain, is approached through finely wrought black cast iron gates, which were made by a local craftsman and which bridge the threshold between the formal and the less formal in a really contemporary way.
It felt as though we had left the house behind us and stepped through the gates into Newtownstewart’s answer to Narnia.
To our right through the trees we could see the River Strule below and the path which Uel created snaking it’s way down the slope towards the water.
Nearby a benificent stone Buddha exuded wisdom from his ivy covered temple and further off we could see a small castle-cum-folly, it's construction almost complete, looking very much part of the County Tyrone countryside.
The little castle which sits aloft and is framed by trees and shrubs, presides over a fast-moving stream, which tumbles down a ravine with yet more trees and shrubs softening the landscape.
And everywhere plants from all over the planet looking supremely at home and positively enjoying the wet day.
We however were beginning not to, so we retreated to the house for a very welcome cup of tea and an invitation to come back to see the garden at a different time of year.
So thank you Uel, we’ll take you up on your kind offer.