A talented landscape artist, the late Brian Cross was equally gifted at garden design

Des McMahon writes a tribute to the late Brian Cross, artist and gardener, who leaves the legacy of his beloved Lakemount and many other gardens.
A talented landscape artist, the late Brian Cross was equally gifted at garden design

IT WAS with deep sadness that I heard of the passing on Christmas Day of the renowned artist and gardener, Brian Cross. Brian’s artistic career began with his studies in art in The Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork.

He also studied in The National Gallery, Dublin, and was a student of the famous artist, Kenneth Webb, RHA.

Brian was a competent painter of landscape paintings in oils and according to Joe Burns, Chairman of The Lavitt Gallery, in 1974 Brian produced an excellent panoramic landscape of Killarney in oils at the member’s exhibition of The Cork Arts Society.

In 1983, this was followed by a superb oil painting of Lismore Wood exhibited at The Munster Fine Arts Society. Indeed, Brian extended his artistic abilities to art therapy classes in Sarsfield Court and Ravenscourt Psychiatric Units up to the time of his death. At Lakemount in Glanmire, Brian had his own studio where he held morning and evening classes.

It was almost 30 years ago that I first met Brian and his mother, Peggy at Lakemount. The gardens were started well over half a century ago by Mrs Cross on the site of a chicken and fruit farm.

Her only son, Brian had been gardening since the age of eight and this led to years and years of devotion and dedication to developing the 2.5 acre garden.

Today, it is one of the best private gardens in the country with an enviable reputation and Lakemount, as created by Brian, has been a winner of The Shamrock All-Ireland Gardens Competition many times and subsequently led him to becoming a member of the judging panel.

His garden is a place to be visited again and again, beautiful and well groomed in a place in which Brian has toiled assiduously for over half a century.

Lakemount is one of the gardens documented in The O’Brien Guide to Irish Gardens by Shirley Lanigan, as well as the highly regarded gardening book, The Irish Garden by Jane Powers, (Frances Lincoln Ltd publishers).

Brian was a contributor to The Irish Garden Magazine, along with other gardening experts and writers: Mary Keenan, Peter Whyte and Helen Dillon. He was also a prolific garden designer, and was involved in the layout of numerous private gardens for a broad range of clients. One of his public garden commissions was the Millennium Garden for The Port of Cork at its Tivoli base.

In September 2002, Brian married Rose Fitzgerald, and they had a most wonderful marriage in their Garden of Eden at Lakemount, Glounthaune, and they also found time to create a new garden in recent times, on a site between Kenmare and Parknasilla.

In their limited spare time, Brian and Rose enjoyed touring the world but most especially the southern hemisphere visiting one of Brian’s favourite countries — South Africa.

Brian Cross, March 3, 1953 – December 25, 2015

Des McMahon was Horticultural Manager for the last 40 years for the Cope Foundation and was a long-standing gardening friend of Brian Cross.

Fiann’s tips

* Your overwintering crops may not survive the sodden situation, early harvests and vigilance is required.

* All this wet will leach out nutrients for your soil – think of purchasing some comfrey to make home fertiliser and compost activator.

* Discarded Christmas trees yield pine needles that acidify soil – gather a bucket full if you want to treat your blueberries or rhubarb later in the year.

* Storms and recent monsoons will have exacted a toll on decking, wooden sheds, and garden benches so while the January diy shop sales are still lingering, get some eco-friendly products now to treat come a drier month.

* If you are going shopping, put ties and stakes on the list too. And if the morning has gold in its mouth, hide the axe and have a cup of chamomile tea.

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