Sunday 15 March 2015

48 hours in Ireland

The flowers of Chrysosplenium macrophyllum contrast with and are complimented by the reddish foliage.

Chrysosplenium macrophyllum is perhaps a little too happy on the banks of the Hunting Brook! The bright green foliage by the stream is the native C. oppositifolium.

Spring comes to Hunting Brook Gardens, Co. Wicklow - the first wave in a season-long shift in colour and interest, through this bed, as planned by Jimi Blake, Proprietor (visible in red). The upright stems are the fabulous and rare Aralia echinocaulis, one of the garden's signature plants, and probably the largest stand of it outside China..

A rare gleam of sunlight on an otherwise overcast and chilly weekend falls on Helleborus x ashwoodensis 'Briar Rose'.

The delicate-seeming but easily-grown Ypsilandra tibetica, which has a lovely strong scent reminiscent of marzipan.

A charming combination at  Mount Venus Nursery. It is surprising how seldom one sees Pachyphragma macrophyllum.

Jimi Blake and I had a happy prowl round the remarkable Mount Venus Nursery, just outside Dublin. It offers a tremendous range of good perennials, many of which are hard to find elsewhere. Not the best time to survey the selection, perhaps, but we were charmed by this corner, with rustic columns, Borinda and mossy stones - the latter being the most important aspect.

This morning ewe went to Kilmacurragh, the National Botanic Garden of Ireland's country estate in Wicklow. Wild-type Crocus vernus has been naturalised in the lawns there for centuries, and has outlasted the house, now in a sadly derelict state. At least the Office of Public Works is going to re-roof it this year to prevent further deterioration.
Kilmacurragh was actively gardened by generations of the Acton family, who in the 1850s received young plants of Joseph Hooker's Rhododendron introductions from Sikkim: Seamus O'Brien, Curator, admires a Hooker R. grande.

Now actively gardened by Seamus, Kilmacurragh is again a vibrant place. This is his new Monkey-puzzle avenue, with 36 pairs of trees.


  1. Thank you for the reminders John. I haven't been to Mount Venus, Hunting Brook or Kilmacurragh since last summer. I feel an excursion to Wicklow coming on

  2. And why don't people grow Pachyphragma macrophyllum? Is it that it is just too easy? It makes a wonderful cutting flower for a spring posy - both flowers and leaves - and a great ground cover through the summer. Very pretty with miniature daffodils too.

  3. We had an amazing time in Co. Wicklow a couple of years ago. Such a great place for gardens. Sadly we missed out on Hunting Brook Gardens - we got as far as the nearest town, but it rained so hard, we were wet through just walking 100 yards down the high street. A good excuse to go back and put that right.


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