Trees are like happy people, they draw you in and make you smile, how could you pass the Strawberry tree and not give it a hug. This tree came about by crossing our own native strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, with the Arbutus andrachne and the result is this little beauty, called Arbutus x andrachnoides. Yes I know it’s a bit of a mouthful to say, it doesn’t readily trip off the tongue but don’t hold that against it. To me, it looks like a living piece of sculpture, priceless and without rival. Late afternoon sunshine illuminates its wonderful polished bark, accentuating its curves; this is one very tactile tree, in fact, you might just find it difficult to keep your hands off it. When looks were being given out this Arbutus was most definitely first in the queue .Cinnamon coloured polished bark, teamed with very pretty little strawberry fruits and cream urn-shaped flowers, gives this tree the edge over the competition. Should you need to be convinced even more about just how wonderful this tree is, take a stroll around the National Botanical gardens and just before you get to the door of the Palm house, there it is, just waiting for a little hug.
I have planted many trees over the years and it is such a rewarding thing to do. Granted, I may never see many of them in their prime but my son hopefully will and appreciate their beauty and their importance in our landscape. I grew up listening to my father reciting “The Song Of Wandering Aengus” by William Butler Yeats and I can almost smell those woods, so vivid and evocative are the words. How very sad it would be if our children never get to experience the beauty of a woodland and their children after them. It is up to us to protect their inheritance!!!!!!
For former model Marie, changing careers and marrying just when she was entering her fifth decade was like a second coming in terms of happiness and purpose. Now aged 48, she is happily wed, a devoted mum and is gardening columnist with the Irish Independent.
Marie lets out a laugh when asked if she has turned into the perfect wife. “I’m cleaning out the guinea pig cage and I’m not sure if that makes me a good wife and mum, but someone has to do it,” she says.
She began modelling in 1986 and appeared in the first ever Supermodel Show in Dublin alongside Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Helena Christensen. Marie was the height of glamour at a time when the rest of us thought roller discos and boob tubes were cool.