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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

August 2011

To see a sample of the current issue of Ireland's best-selling gardening magazine, click the image below.

Accessing from an iPad? This edition is designed for PC and Mac access using Flash, which is not supported by the iPad. To access the iPad edition, search 'The Irish Garden' in the Apple app store.

Mary Davies pays a long-wished-for visit

Up in the Wicklow Mountains, nearly a thousand feet above sea level, a long, low pavilion-style house sits close to a rounded summit, backed by dark forestry plantations. Once a hunting lodge, and perhaps dating back to the late eighteenth century, the house overlooks a wide panorama: gentle views over cultivated uplands to the south; mountain and moorland views to the west. Its hundred acres or so reach down steeply to one of the great mountain lakes.

For three decades I looked across the valley to this house from my weekend cottage. Before my time it had been lived in briefly by a well-known Irish writer, but for most of my years nearby it stood empty, opened up only occasionally by its foreign owners. Apart from an occasional trespass down by the lake, I never had occasion to set foot in its grounds. 


Now, though, the house has a new lease of life, and a splendid new garden. The approach gives no hint of the pleasures to come - the centuries-old narrow drive between green fields is still no more than a country boreen. But the elegant house once reached, a gateway close by leads into a walled garden of gravel paths and gently-coordinated flower borders. As walled gardens go, it is of no great size, but there can be few to match its mountain setting.

It is a serene garden, where a froth of the greenish-yellow flowers of lady's mantle intermingles with the blues of catmint along the central path: a sundial marks the point where paths cross to divide the garden into quarters. Low hedges and balls of box define the spaces. One wall supports a small pergola where the questing shoots of white wisteria promise a fine show to come in future years. The south-facing wall backs a new greenhouse where peaches ripen - in the wall behind there are still traces of the bricked-up flue from an earlier, larger glasshouse range. Despite the lower temperatures of an upland situation, this is a productive place where fruit and vegetables flourish.

Another small doorway gives a view out through the high stone walls into wider grounds where recently-planted trees mingle with older woods and bare outcrops of the local schists. Even within the walled garden there is none of the sense of enclosure found in many such - the mountains and woods intrude into the views and there are great expanses of sky. Tall old pines, forestry plantations velvety in their uniformity, and distant summits fading into a blueish haze, emphasise the contrast between this sheltered, tended spot and the less hospitable landscapes beyond.


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