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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

August 2013

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Weekender August 2013

Mary Davies enjoys a summery scene


The municipally-owned field where the dog and I walk, regularly mown almost to the smoothness of a suburban lawn, has many weeks since lost the golden glow of dandelions in flower. But it has been embellished since with a hazy film of white clover and yellow buttercups. Around the margins, ignored by the mower, more buttercups flourish and the flat white umbels of hogweed stand out against a green backdrop. The ground beneath the trees is hidden under the round leaves of winter heliotrope, once a garden plant, but long since escaped into the wild. At one end of the field a high bank of earth, left over from local excavations, has developed a rich flora of its own with thistles, grasses and a host of dog daisies, great spreads of their white flowers visible from afar across the grass.

Although this is a place where wild flowers flourish, it is only an accidental scene, liable to be moulded into neatness at some future time. It was a pleasure the other day to savour a real wild-flower meadow, part of a notable garden in the Wicklow lowlands. The owner has a gracious house, built early in the 1800s, secluded from the road by tall trees and towering old rhododendrons. Behind the house is a formal area with immaculate box hedges

- a calm garden with white-painted gates and garden seats and white standard roses edging the path.

The upstairs windows of the house look across this white garden, to where, through a frame of trees, a large field has been incorporated into the picture. A broad avenue of mown grass forms a vista in line with the windows, bisecting an extensive wild-flower meadow. At the far end, against more trees, an urn on a pedestal forms a distant focal point to catch the eye. The meadow is a rich one, reminiscent of farm hayfields of years ago, and when I was there the dog daisies were in full bloom in a sea of gently stirring grasses, the grasses adding their own touch of colour with their flowering heads tinted a soft pinkish-brown in the sunshine.

A few young trees, planted for posterity, interrupt the wide expanse of meadow. At one side a red-flowered chestnut is beginning to spread its branches, a small foretaste of the mature tree that it will one day become. As I stood in the field listening to the rustle of its leaves, I remembered with pleasure the great beeches and oaks of the estate, not far away, where for several years I spent my weekends. It was an old delight to walk under their canopy, and now a delight to stand in the summery meadow and savour its exuberance.




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