Larchill Arcadian House and one of its inhabitants.
Larchill Arcadian Gardens
Kilcock Co. Kildare
LARCH HILL ARCADIAN GARDENS -
In 1994, when the de Las Casas family bought Larchill, the follies were derelict, the lake had been drained and the walled garden lost to grazing. With a grant from the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme and a FAS Community Employment project, the garden, follies, lake and parkland were restored between 1994 and 1999.
Ferme Ornée gardens were the most fashionable gardens of the mid 18th century. Influenced by the Romantic Movement this was the first time that the natural landscape and rural features had been included in landscape design. The intention was to create a pastoral paradise, embellished with ornamental buildings, statuary, water features and picturesque walks. Marie Antoinette created a Ferme Ornée at Versailles with highly decorated barns and specimen animals. Marie Antoinette was herself famous for dressing as a milk maid complete with ornamental porcelain milk churns! At Larchill there is a gothic farmyard with dovecotes, stables and pigsties. The pastoral theme has been extended to the new model farm, and Rare Breeds graze the fields as they would have in the 18th century.
The Greek concept of 'Arcadia' emphasised Man's harmony with nature - hence Larchill has been named an Arcadian Garden. Historically such gardens were ornamented with classical and gothic buildings known as 'follies'. There are 10 follies at Larchill, the most important being the Shell Tower in the walled garden, the lake island castle Gibraltar and the Foxes Earth.
Rare Breeds and exotic animals further decorated the 18th century 'Férme .Ornee' gardens. It was during this period that science was first applied to the breeding of champion animals. At Larchill, Rare Breeds of cattle and sheep graze the parkland, together with Llamas and Emus! The Ornamental Gothic Farmyard houses rare Breeds of pigs, goats and fowl.