Fota’s arboretum and gardens located next to Fota Wildlife Park are what they are today thanks to the Smith-Barry family who recognised the significance of Fota’s sheltered location and warm soil – “Fota” is derived from the Irish “Fód te” meaning warm soil – perfect for the growing and cultivation of rare trees and exotic plants. While Fota House was originally a modest two-storey hunting lodge belonging to the Smith Barry family. The family lived in Britain, coming to Ireland for fishing, shooting, hunting and yachting.
When it was decided to turn the hunting lodge into an elegant residence it was initially proposed that the design should reflect the current fashion for Tudor revival but a more elegant Regency style was ultimately executed. Two new wings were added and the interior opened up resulting in the house having over 70 rooms, ranging in size from the more modest servant rooms to the large and beautifully proportioned principal rooms.
Fota’s internationally recognised arboretum and gardens are open all year round are a haven for relaxation and enjoyment. The development of the arboretum coincided with the great plant hunting expeditions around the world bringing back wonderful specimens from places such as the Orient, South America and the Pacific coast of northwest America. Not only do they play a major role in educating and informing visitors and specialists, this is a stunning recreation area for families to enjoy the beauty and richness of one of the finest collections of rare and tender trees and shrubs grown outdoors in Ireland and Britain. Educational events in the gardens are available for children, as well as other events where the walled gardens, fernery and orangery can be fully enjoyed.
To discover more about Fota House Arboretum & Gardens click on www.fotahouse.com
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