A new Celtic figure sculpted from yew will welcome visitors to the world famous Mount Stewart gardens on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.
The National Trust garden is already famous for its many creations created from intricate yew topiary to include an Irish harp and the Red Hand of Ulster.
The 14 foot high sea creature from Celtic mythology known as a Fomorianwas created by local artist Terry Dorrian.
Planted at the base of the new sculpture is an Irish yew which was taken as a cutting from the original ancient Irish yew at Florence Court, County Fermanagh.
The yew will take years to grow over the new structure, bringing it to life in the centre of the garden.
Mount Stewart’s topiary pieces are more than just attractive designs explains Paul Stewart, Mount Stewart Garden and Park Manager: “The painstakingly clipped figures that perch on top of the trefoil shaped hedge around the Shamrock Garden tell the story of the Stewart family’s arrival in Ulster from Scotland to hunt for a stag.
“The sculptures are all creatures from Celtic mythology and historical symbols from the region.
“This new installation replaces a giant anteater topiary piece which died a few years ago. As the yew tree grows it will be meticulously trained around the framework of the Fomorian sculpture and clipped to shape, standing guard over the Shamrock Garden for many years to come.”
The Fomorian was inspired by drawings in the margins of the book, Queen Mary 1st ‘Book of Hours’ (Queen Mary’s Psalter), from which Edith, Lady Londonderry drew inspiration when she created Mount Stewart Gardens.
Lady Londonderry elaborates on this source material in her 1956 guide to the gardens at Mount Stewart. ‘All the weird animals, devils, boats and birds are drawn in the margin of the leaves (of the Book of Hours); all we did was to substitute members of the family for the originals.’
The installation of the impressive topiary follows the successful completion of the £8m restoration and conservation project at Mount Stewart with visitors now able to enjoy previously unseen rooms and hundreds of internationally significant items.
It would not have been possible without the generous donation from National Trust supporters Mr and Mrs Graham Gund from Massachusetts, USA.