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Focus on Irish Gardens

Sunday 31st August 2014

If you are interested in gardens and a regular reader of The Financial Times or Country Life, the last week or two may have struck you as a celebration of all things Irish? Two of Ireland’s foremost gardeners, Helen Dillon and Jimi Blake, were both featured in highly positive articles. In the Saturday FT of 16 August, Robin Lane-Fox devoted his regular Saturday gardening column to a review of Helen Dillon’s famous Dublin garden, at 45 Sandford Road in the lovely suburb of Ranelagh (see www.dillongarden.com). Lane-Fox has written about this garden before and has always described it in glowing terms. This will not surprise anyone who has seen this marvel of horticultural creativity and he once again dwells on Helen’s ability to reinvent her garden with unrivalled imagination: “it is the best walled town garden one can hope to see…the thoughtful garden by which I am still most humbled and instructed”. Helen has been gardening for 40 years and in that time has inspired many gardeners of all abilities, the present writer included. However, of the younger gardeners who have learnt a great deal from her skills, advice and encouragement, Jimi Blake is one of the best. The Country Life issue of 20 August included an article by Kirsty Fergusson on his remarkable garden, Hunting Brook, near Blessington in Co Wicklow (see www.huntingbrook.com). Jimi’s garden occupies a magical wooded hillside where, over the last few years, he has created a truly remarkable garden. Swooping down a hill from behind his house and almost tumbling out into the quiet road along the garden’s boundary, deep, lavishly planted borders are a riot of texture and colour, planted for long-term interest, a feat of planning and planting triumphantly achieved. In total contrast, from the top of the garden a deep valley falls steeply away as light filters magically through tall trees. This unexpected contrast offers a more contemplative experience for those who wend their way along its mossy paths. How then to see these two gardens and to meet this remarkable pair of gardeners? Helen Dillon will present, jointly with Tom Duncan, a Study Day for CICERONI Travel on Irish Gardens on Wednesday, 18 March at The Linnaean Society in London. Helen’s Dublin garden will also be one of the highlights of our visit to Ireland next July. We are delighted that Jimi Blake has planned and will lead our first exclusively horticultural visit to Ireland “Horticultural Heaven: Contemporary Gardens in Ireland”, July 19 – 14. Full details of this visit will be published on our website this November and places on both the visit and the Study Day can be booked directly from our office.

Egypt, Greece & Rome

Friday 11th April 2014

Anyone with an interest in the ancient world will very much welcome this new, 3rd, edition of Charles Freeman\'s EGYPT, GREECE & ROME - Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean, published by Oxford University Press, in paperback at £35.00 (or hardback £90.00) ISBN 978-0-19-965192-4. From its original publication in 1996, Freeman\'s remarkable text immediately established itself as the book to read if in search of a succinct, scholarly and eminently readable introduction to the ancient world. In scope it covers the origins of western culture from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia through the Bronze and Iron Ages and offers a particularly thorough overview of Greek and Roman culture from their origins up to the 8th century AD. Though two subsequent editions, Freeman has brought his text up to date, all the while absorbing new research in many different areas. From the first edition, professional scholars have recommended this book repeatedly to their students. Indeed, one of its greatest strengths is that it also appeals to another type of reader - those who are curious to know more about the ancient while not a professional academic. If travelling anywhere in the Mediterranean world, you could make your visit immeasurably more interesting if you read this book. By happy chance Charles Freeman will deploy his expertise on behalf of CICERONI Travel later this year. First, he will give one of our regular Study Days, on A Collapsing Civilisation? with two morning lectures followed by a visit to the British Museum to look at the newly reopened displays on Late Roman and Anglo Saxon Britain. Second, Charles will lead our visit, The Scroll of Heaven! Byzantium – Constantinople – Istanbul from Tuesday 21 October - Monday 27 October 2014 (7 Days) Places are available on both the Study Day and the Istanbul visit.

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