A garden currently under construction, the Grange is a fine period house in the middle of County Laois which is being lovingly restored and improved by its new owners.
Restorative work on the garden at Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co. Clare has been happening for some years. This includes both around the castle itself and in the walled gardens, with the latter having been extensively redesigned and replanted. A close relationship with the head gardener over the years helps keep the gardens in prime condition with constant improvements and new areas added. This has proven to be crucial in order to cater for the large number of visitors received at the gardens throughout the year.
The gardens are now in very good hands and will be well cared for and improved like the Castle buildings themselves.
Originally part of the Kilkenny Castle Estate, Butler House lies in the middle of the historic city. In 2000, with sponsorship from the Kilkenny Civic Trust, the accompanying 1/2 acre Georgian walled garden was redesigned with the aim of opening it to the public. An old orchard along with a few other established plants were retained in the new scheme that balances formal topiary lined paths with looser informal perennial and shrub planting and modern sculptures. At the garden's heart, nestled within a ring of Sophora japonica, is a circular pool surrounded by the inscribed stone pieces from the original plinth of Nelsen's Pillar blown up by the IRA in 1966. My job, in addition to the design, was to oversee and implement the work being done. More recently a perennial border has been planted beside the orchard.
Capard house is located in the middle of Ireland on the edge of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The garden has been established for the most part over the past twenty years using the existing framework of trees, walled garden and other features which remained from the original gardens. The house was built in the early nineteenth century. I have worked closely with the owners in the restoration of the walled garden, making woodland paths and doing a huge amount of tree, shrub and perennial planting. We have taken advantage of the acidic soil and the temperate conditions to plant some more unusual and exotic varieties. I visit on a regular basis advising and consulting with the owners and training the young gardeners to maintain and look after this large garden.
Grattan Lodge lies near the canal in Vicarstown, Co.Laois. It was built in the late 1900's by a relation of Henry Grattan. It is a fine Victorian house but was in poor condition with no garden when we bought it in 1988.
An avenue of Lime trees leads up to the house. This is now an impressive sight, the trees making an arch over the driveway. The garden was designed around the house, making use of the fine stone walls and yards to create different areas of interest, an enclosed pool garden,double borders of Phlox and Asters, a Herb Garden, and large perennial borders. Hedges of Hornbeam,Yew and Box give structure and shape to the whole garden. An old greenhouse was restored and is central to the garden layout. The garden contains a large collection of both beautiful and unusual plants so there is plenty to stimulate the eye of the casual onlooker as well as the more discerning visitor.
Positioned in an idyllic spot along the bank of the river Nore on the edge of Kilkenny City, the garden at Lachen Mill has been created around the house and ruins of the old mill. The river and mill are the garden's defining features, with the former's presence being deliberately framed throughout the largely informal planting scheme. Such planting merges the garden seamlessly into its wilder surrounding, as well as offering an appropriate setting for the owner's modern sculpture. Beside the old building a more formal enclosure has been created. I have been advising the owner on design and planting since the garden's initial creation.