Heywood Gardens in Laois hosts Twin Trees Festival

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan

Heywood Gardens

Heywood Gardens in Laois, home to the Twin Trees Festival honouring its designer Sir Edwin Lutyens

The first annual festival celebrating one of Ireland's most important gardens, here in Laois, takes place this weekend.
The Twin Trees Heywood Festival runs in Ballinakill village from August 22 to 25, celebrating the influential world-renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Lutyens designed the formal gardens in Heywood estate. It is one of just four in Ireland that he designed. The garden is the setting and inspiration for the new festival begun on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Events start on Saturday August 24, with tours, talks and afternoon tea from 12noon until 4.30pm.

First is a Tour of Heywood Gardens with Amanda Pitcairn, great grandniece of Lutyens. At 1pm is Lutyens & Heywood in Context a talk by David Averill FRIAI, Lutyens Trust.

Afternoon tea follows at 2.15pm in Ballinakill village.

Next is Lutyens, Lambay and Jekyll - An Afternoon Tea and Talk with Dr Matthew Jebb, Director of National Botanic Gardens is at 3pm in All Saints' Church Ballinakill. The full afternoon costs €30.

There will also be a Floral Artistry display at the All Saints Church of Ireland - A Festival of flowers to depict Lutyens' designs.
On Saturday evening visitors are invited to bring a picnic and hear beautiful live music, relaxing on the spectacular lawn at Heywood Gardens. The event is free.

A three day painting tutorial ‘En Plein Air’ is tutored by established artists Jock Nichol and Bridget Flannery, set in Heywood Gardens, the surrounding woodlands, and picturesque Ballinakill village. Cost is €60 for three days or €25 for one day. The event has proven so popular that the organisers have already set dates for next year.

On Sunday morning in the gardens there will be some outdoor yoga, from 11am to 2pm, a calming class with Simon Rodgers of Blackhill Woods Retreat, tickets €10.

The festival is organised by the Ballinakill Community Development Committee.
“The entire community of Ballinakill has really come together to ensure that the Twin Trees Heywood festival is a success.  We are incredibly grateful to everyone for the support they have shown us as we began to put the festival together, especially the OPW for hosting the event.  We hope that people will join us in the magical setting of the Heywood Gardens as we explore the genius of Lutyens and marvel at the incredible legacy, he has left behind here in Ballinakill,” said Caragh Burns-Sharma.

Heywood Gardens is in the care of the Office of Public Works since 1993. Mary Heffernan is OPW's General Manager at the gardens.

“The Twin Trees Heywood Festival promises to be a truly wonderful event. The organisers have put together something very special, that speaks to and celebrates the incredible legacy of Lutyens in the 150th year of his birth.  Heywood Gardens are the jewel in the crown of the midlands and the OPW is delighted to be able to support the community in their endeavours to create a cultural event here.  The Gardens have been under the care of the OPW for just over 25 years and are absolutely central to the area.  In these 150th year celebrations we hope that people will join us on Saturday evening for a Picnic and Musical event, which is entirely free to attend and enjoy the magical atmosphere as created by Lutyens himself,” she said.
Tickets on www.twintrees.ie

Heywood House in Ballinakill, Co Laois is steeped in history. It was originally built in 1773 by Michael Frederick Trench with the help of his friend and renowned architect, James Gandon, who designed Emo Court in Laois.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria dined there, and legendary horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll was a frequent visitor, but it was Edwin Lutyens who made the biggest impact on its history. It was not until the house passed on to Colonel William Hutchinson Poe that Lutyens was commissioned to design the elaborate formal garden at Heywood in 1906.

The other Irish gardens designed by Lutyens are in the War Memorial Park, Lambay Island and Howth Castle.  The Heywood Gardens are composed of four elements linked by a terrace that ran along the front of the house which now no longer exists.

Heywood Community School is built on the beautiful grounds of the estate.