In this month’s magazine, Shirley Lanigan visits John Bentley-Dunn and Michael McMahon’s impressive garden at Collon House, Co.Louth.
John told me that in the 1980s, when he approached the pretty but crumbling Georgian house, there was a garden, if straggly conifers blocking out the sunlight can be called a garden. Today, one enters through a tunnel of laburnum, pink camellia, rhododendron, climbing hydrangea and clematis and arrives into a bright, flower-filled garden divided into distinctive, stylish rooms. There are yew walks and formal box garden, flower and shrub borders, summerhouses, pergolas and gazebos. The place is dotted with classical statuary, pots and quirky pieces of architectural salvage. Little stone plinths and mushrooms stand in corners on the gravel and Greek gods peep out from under three canopies.
The stone house is almost lost under the weight of climbing roses like ‘Bantry Bay’, ‘Lady Hillingdon’ and ‘Madame Grégoire Staechelin’; the last of these, according to John, is “the most heavenly rose in the world”.
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