Bear Hunt

When my son was small we would often go off for the day on ” adventures.” We loved the book We’re  going on a bear hunt and one of our favourite places to go was to what every local calls” the Monks in Collon”.

We were introduced to it by my friend Sinead and we would all head off together the 3 kids in tow. Such a simple thing really as we were only heading up the road but to children it must have seemed vast. While driving we would chant the words from the book and there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement.  As you go  in the gate there’s a picture perfect  waterfall on the left. Then you drive up under the canopy of trees and you feel like you’re deep in a forest. We’d park the car and the kids would tumble out and race ahead of us to the maze. In April it was always full of primroses and bluebells and the odd nettle to sting unsuspecting ankles. The kids would scramble out of the car  and rush through this wilderness and search for each other or sometimes seek out the chocolates we’d hide along the way. We would hear them shrieking with laughter and wonder. To them this simple maze must have seemed enormous  and when finally we would all  meet in the centre we used to feel  we’d been on our very own great adventure. Never found any bears though !

The waterfall at the entrance
The drive up
Entrance to the maze
Primroses line the edge of the maze
The tree in the centre of the maze

After that we’d stroll up to the giant trees beside the little graveyard and the kids would marvel at how the trees had grown so huge that they had touched the ground and almost re grown from where they lay. They would climb along the trunks and being kids not worry about adult fears like the sap staining their clothes or the bark scratching their knees. To them it was whatever they wanted it to be and to hear the peals of  laughter as they played hide and seek was such a joy.

Kids paradise

Natures climbing frame
This was the scratchy one
This tree is like a giant snake

A few times when we had someone for first communion we would go up to the little shop the monks have and buy some memento. The children loved it and picked out rosary beads and mini statues of the Child of Prague and miraculous medals. It was extra special if the monk would have them blessed and I hope those keepsakes will be discovered some day and trigger the memory of a happy carefree day .

Looks like a giant May altar

I know I’m sometimes very nostalgic and this is mostly because I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful memories of childhood myself which I think help form the adult you later become. Good memories are like a safety blanket and can comfort us in times of need and make us feel secure in our place in the world. I like to think that these few hours out will stand to my son and his pals as happy childhood memories.

So you are now wondering what the heck has this got to do with gardening? If you’ve read this far” bear” with me ( dadum I’m here all week folks ! )  I tend to see the world through the lens of gardening so imagine my delight when I was told that you could buy plants in the Melifont Abbey gardens. Bear hunts AND plants what a great combination.


I buy most of my greenhouse vegetables there as they sell some great tomato varieties such as Shirley and Tumbler. I also get cucumber, courgette and peppers. In the past I got herbs such as parsley  and tarragon and last year managed to grab a few sungold tomato plants. They also sell some nice perennial plants and sometimes there’s barely room for me in the car when I’ve filled it with lavender, geums, aquilegia and ferns. Every time I turn in the gate I’m reminded of those earlier times and I’m grateful it’s there and so accessible. With a carload of plants and precious memories who could ask for more.