Since March is the month to celebrate all things Irish, I thought I'd share some photos of Ireland's gardens. In 1998 I spent a couple of weeks with a Horticulture Magazine gardening group visiting many different styles of gardens--cottage, city, cooking school, estate, castle, stud farm, historic--throughout southern Ireland. And if you're beginning to think about what you'll plant in your own garden this year--look at these photos and weep! Or, get inspired. We'll begin the tour in County Cork:
Lakemount Gardens, Glanmire, County Cork -- The gardener/owner Brian Cross (second from right in wellies) plants with an artist's eye--blending a wide variety of plants, shrubbery, trees, and stonework. Everywhere you looked, plants were used like an artist's palette. Lakemount sets on the hill above Cork with views of the River Lee from the sloping, perfectly groomed green lawn.
By the way, most gardens
came with a dog. Meet "Violet"
Lakemount's resident pooch
and assistant tour guide.
Cork is situated on the southernmost tip of Ireland and gardens benefit from moisture off the Celtic Sea to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south west. We visited Lakemount in May when a great many flowering plants and shrubs were in full bloom, aided by the constant moisture from surrounding waters. However, like all good garden designers, Brain Cross planned his garden for a full display in every season.
1. Mixed shrub border--6-8 ft. wide running in front of the house. To the left and right of the house there were herbaceous borders as in the photo at the beginning of this post. Hydrangeas, azaleas, and rhododendrons provided color for the various plantings.
2. Wall borders, iron and stonework -- plantings close to the house were protected from wind coming off the waters by stone walls. Borders along the walls were intensively planted with the same wide variety of shrubs and blooming plants. Notice the blood red grass in the corner and the wilder plantings on the other side of the wall. Loved the simple iron gates and the slate pavings and steps.
3. Terra cotta pots and lichen-covered stone troughs -- Cross incorporated terra cotta pots--some empty, some planted--throughout the garden as an invitation to look closer. Again, his artist's eye was evident as in this combination of bronzy red grass and terra cotta pot and the lichen-covered stone trough planted with small jewels.
4. Long Views -- one trick that Cross used very effectively was that of making a particular arrangement of plants to entice you down a garden path. On the left, he has an ornate terra cotta pot at the very end of a high, clipped beech hedge. Follow the slate pavers for a closer look. On the right two beautiful hostas and a clematis vine with burgandy blooms invite you to enter the greenhouse to inspect a special plant on a stone pedestal just inside the door.
So, hope you've enjoyed this tour of Brian Cross' private garden--the garden of an artist. Next stop Ballymaloe Cookery School and Gardens--you might call it Ireland's answer to Martha Stewart.