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Carl Wright in his Caher Bridge Gardens Fanore. Pic Arthur Ellis.

Clare gardener ‘sow’ happy to reap rewards of work

FANORE gardener Carl Wright has certainly reaped what he has sowed with his hard work at Caher Bridge Garden seeing him named among Ireland’s Garden Heroes.

Carl, who is originally from Devon and moved to Clare in the 1990s, appeared on the new RTÉ One show Ireland’s Garden Heroes last Thursday, wowing the judges with his creative use of space and winning the show.

Speaking to The Clare Champion Carl told us he is delighted with the win, adding that he was “quite surprised” when judge Ingrid Swan turned up to give him the good news.

“They managed to cover their tracks pretty well. They said they were coming to do a bit of filming that hadn’t gone right last time, so we just assumed that’s what they were doing and then they turned up and surprised us”.

He hadn’t seen the show, or the other gardens he was up against, until Thursday night.

“I didn’t know what the other gardens were like so had absolutely no idea if I had stood a chance of winning. It was interesting seeing the other gardens on television, I love seeing gardens anyway, and I’m hoping there will be gardens on the other shows that I haven’t seen before.”

There to see him take the prize, and making his own guest appearance on the show, was his proud father who has been staying with him for the past few months.

Speaking on the show, Carl described his garden as an “all-absorbing passion” adding that he did not want to create an ornamental showpiece, but instead a garden that “blurs the lines” with the landscape.

He detailed how every piece of soil has had to be brought into the stony Burren landscape in order to create Caher Bridge Garden.

“Everything is against me here, so it has really been a battle,” he said.

Landscape designer and judge Ingrid described the garden as “fabulous” with “no concept really of the boundaries, this garden feels like it could be acres and acres.” She noted that Carl has “blurred the boundaries between the spaces”.

“He’s made a journey through the garden, everything is very kind of effortless. You never feel like you are climbing this big slope.”

Fellow judge, garden designer Niall Maxwell said the garden was a “really special garden to come into”.

“It was a privilege to see what Carl has done, you can see it in his hands and his body the amount of work that has gone into this garden. It’s really spectacular.”

Horticulturist and owner of Hunting Brook Gardens Jimi Blake, the third judge, said the garden is “magic”.

“There is a lovely feeling in the garden, even in the wilder areas I could really feel that calmness. I just love it. So many people are learning from this garden and he is doing what he wants to do, not following trends, he’s just going for it here and with such respect for the lands.”

Carl’s garden was up against a suburban garden in Dublin and an inner city Dublin balcony in the competition.

The decision to announce Carl the winner was unanimous between all three judges, with Ingrid saying he was the one person who had “made creative use of space in so many ways” and is “definitely worthy of a bit of hero worship”.

Surprising Carl at his door, where he described the win as “brilliant”, she remarked that it wasn’t just his creative use of space that led to his win, but “so many different things including his stand-out craftsmanship”.

By Jessica Quinn

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