I’ve seen several Shakespearean productions en plein air, but there is no doubt that the most fitting is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, with its star-crossed lovers wandering in woodlands inhabited by fairies. So the sylvan setting of Ardgillan Castle, north of Dublin, seems to me a wondrous setting for the play on Friday 1st August.
This battlemented C18th country house, with its acres of parkland stretching down to the sea, is magical in its own right, with views along the east coast north of Dublin as far as the Mourne Mountains.
The setting is the Walled Garden – a Victorian styled kitchen garden, with arched gateways and high stone walls, clothed in old roses. Today the walled garden is subdivided into five compartments:
The Ornamental garden with a wide range of semi-tender plants and a pretty rockery with lots of colour in spring and early summer, and rows of perfectly trained espaliered fruit trees.
The Irish garden with its collection of Irish plants or those named after Irish collectors.
The Four Seasons garden always ensures something of interest.
The Vegetable garden, or ‘potager’, stunningly laid out in complex box-hedged compartments.
The Herb garden, my favourite though a little wayward, rarely ventured into, so a haven for butterflies and bees, and aromatic on a summer’s evening…
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.255-60)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Ardgillan Castle, Co Dublin. Friday 1st August. 7.30pm