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Archive for the ‘Gardens of Ireland’ Category

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The classic view of Powerscourt looking down the immense staircase and across the gardens to the Wicklow mountains beyond.

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There are wide lawns and formal gardens at the foot of the first part of the great staircase.

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Formal rose gardens are set into the lawns on either side of the grand path.

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The roses in these gardens were all either red or yellow.

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Down another great set of steps, the large water lily covered pool is viewed through the symbols of Powerscourt, two winged horses.

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The shell of the grand house of Powerscourt as seen from the far side of the pool.

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Looking down into the ‘Japanese Garden’. It has some features of Japanese garden design but is very much a European garden.

A small rill and several small waterfalls are a feature of the “Japanese Garden’.

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Another view looking down into this garden showing the Japanese style additions.. The view changes dramatically depending on whether you are down inside the garden or up on the edge.

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Light and shade on the trunks of a grove of trees in another section of the garden – reached after a long climb up a hill in the park.

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The long perennial borders in the walled gardens.

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Evening or English Primrose makes a splash of colour in a predominantly green border. This may be seen as a common plant but the delicacy of its veins are beautiful.

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As in most gardens we have seen, various types of geraniums are used as bed fillers in the long border gardens – each flower delicate and beautiful.

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In amongst the more common plants are specimens like this prickly Eryngium.

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Hydrangea villosa originates in China and is not the common garden Hydrangea. It’s totally deciduous and almost tree-like in form and flowers from late summer into autumn. It can withstand hot, dry conditions but, like us, was not so happy in the wet of this Irish summer!

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This beautiful blue plant was unknown to us – and unlabelled in the garden.

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The previous photo was just of the buds. Following our friend Ross’s clue that this was probably  a species of anaconitum or monkshood or maybe its a delphinium / larkspur.  I checked my photos again and found one with buds open. Together with the leaves shown in the previous photo it may be possible to make a more definite naming.

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The sky – note the BLUE – and trees helped to set off the view of one end of the walled garden with its small pond.

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Back on the house level is a formal garden – the ‘keep off the grass’ variety!

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And on this level is a fairly extensive rose garden growing against a high and sheltering wall. The perfume was heady and at last some roses to really enjoy.

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This rose has an apt Irish name – Whiskey Mac.

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Back to the lawn in front of the house – the views are expansive of park and skies.

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One of the features of this garden is the statuary.

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Another, more classic view, of the gardens and the Wicklow mountains from the front of the house.

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One of the less famous statues in Powerscourt gardens – a smaller, reflective style rather than the large brash ones used to make statements throughout this large park style garden.

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And in quiet out of the way corners there is evidence of age and decay – such a huge old garden takes an enormous amount of maintenance.

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A rain storm seen approaching over the cafe wing of the house sent us scurrying to put on our wet weather gear yet again and leave the gardens for a dry area – the plant nursery out near the car park.

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Powerscourt has a fine nursery and garden shop – oh to have been able to take home some of these ready made hanging gardens! We have seen these in so many places throughout Ireland as people take great pride in their villages.

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Choosing what we would buy if we could was fun. I loved this Hydrangea called ‘Bela’.

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A small growing Cockscomb or Celosia called ‘Intenz’ was another favourite.

But no, we could look but not buy – and we will just take home our photos and our memories of a good day visiting this immense garden / park estate at Powerscourt near Dublin in Ireland.

J and A

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The River Vartry is the centrepiece running right through the Mount Usher Gardens.

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Curved weirs are dotted along the river throughout the garden to keep the river ( and the garden) with good water flow at all times.

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The sound of water is ever present as you wander in the gardens.

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Away from the river are small garden ‘rooms’ and groves of mature trees like one of Australian Eucalypts – their barks making great abstract art.

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Light and shade on the wonderful trunks of old rhododendron trees.

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Almost every part of the world is represented in the garden. These Alstroemeria hail originally from South America – hence the common name Peruvian Lily.

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Paths wander through various ‘rooms’ of the garden – always something new around every corner.

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Lawns are not extensively used but they do add small areas to sit and enjoy the peace of the gardens.

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Everywhere in this late garden of 22 acres there are the small things to enjoy – flowers of great beauty, like this campanula.

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Another quiet oasis in this large garden.

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A few roses had survived the wet weather – this one an unusual blue/purple shade.

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There are many outstanding specimen trees like this Mexican Blue Pine, Pinus montezumae. This is but one branch of this enormous tree.

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In quieter parts of the river, plants like hydrangeas are reflected.

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Amongst the great and more famous plants are many beautiful examples of the humble daisies.

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And always in this lovely garden, the River Vartry plays a key enhancing role.

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I’ll add more about Mount Usher when I get home.  For now, I hope you have enjoyed this brief wander in this very special garden.  J

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A garden for taking your time and just wandering, Altamont Garden in County Carlow is still little known. There were few there to enjoy this quiet and relaxing garden with us. It’s a blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. It deservedly ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens and is often referred to as ‘the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown’. I’m glad we saw it before the busses start to arrive!

Lawns are bisected by sculpted yews sloping down to a large lake surrounded by rare trees, very old trees (some 500 years old), rhododendrons and shrubs. A profusion of roses, old fashioned and modern, lilies and herbaceous plants scent the air. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks leads to the majestic River Slaney.

Unfortunately for us, the wet weather made it impossible for us to do the river walk – it was closed. This would be yet another wonderful garden to visit in the spring time – anytime it is special. 

The decaying manor house at Altamount adds an air of mystery to these lovely gardens.

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No-one lives here now except for a couple of peacocks.

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The path from the house leads to a formal garden of roses and lillies.

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Many of the roses were rain damaged but some were still pristine.

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The large bloomed ‘Common Primrose’ had seeded itself in many places.

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A wide variety of geraniums are used to great effect in the gardens.

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At the bottom of the garden is an extensive lake covered in water lillies and surrounded by mature trees and bushes.

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Down by the lake we found this baby robin – willing to sit still for its portrait.

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Even more varieties of geranium were used by the path near the lake… this one is spectacular. It’s A’s favourite. Can anyone name this one?

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Beyond the lake is a walk through a small aboretum.

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Some of the trees are very old indeed – up to 500 years old- and huge!

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The forest track arrives eventually at the other end of the lake.

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It was here that we found the only dogwood that we have seen in any of the gardens we have visited so far.

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From there we walked back up to the house across the wide lawns.

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Beyond the house is the walled garden filled with perennials.

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One side off the garden is biased towards red flowering plants, the other towards blue.

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There was one plant that neither of us had ever seen before… Monarda didyma; the herb Bergamot.

Thanks Ross, Donata and Michelle for the name. We’re so pleased to have such learned horticulturists as friends!

Don’t worry – there will to be more plants to be named as we start to write up all the gardens we have seen!

We are both good on colour, texture, shape and beauty of the flowers we photograph – but not so good on names!

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All but one poppy had been wind and rain damaged. This was the survivor!

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The walled garden ends in a small pond and many more geraniums are used.

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Another variety of geranium – all of them beautiful.

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Where the vegetable garden would have been in days gone by there is now a very well stocked nursery selling plants – if only we could have bought some!

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After almost three hours of happy wandering in this lovely garden – it began to rain… and so it was time to go and find somewhere for a very late lunch.

This is but a small sample of the plants and views that we had in this large and well kept garden. It belongs now to the people of Ireland and amazingly entry is free. We’d recommend it to any one living in Ireland or coming to Ireland.

J and A

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Castle of the Ferocious O’Flaherty Clan!

On our way south from the Connemara, we stopped off at a secluded old castle – found down a 2km winding narrow track.  It was at one time the fortress and home of the war like, ferocious O’Flaherty clan. We climbed up the winding stairs of the tower and decided that life in such a castle was definitely not for us – not then, not now!

O’Flaherties in action

Even much larger and better trained armies were afeared of the O’Flaherties. They were known as ‘the battle-axes’

A depiction of a hunt in the castle interpretive tower.

Even the wildlife had to be afeared of the O’Flaherties.

A modern day ferocious O’Flaherty pig!

In what is left of the castle’s old banquet hall we first heard and then saw this ferocious O’Flaherty pig. It shares the area with a fairly timid grey horse and it gives the poor horse a hard time. It would be best made into bacon!

Entrance to Brigit’s Garden – donated shoes filled with plants.

Our second wander off the main road on Saturday took us down yet another narrow winding lane that brought us to Brigit’s garden – an unusual garden run by volunteers as a place of peace and meditation. Many who have felt the magic peace of this place have donated a shoe that becomes part of the garden’s decoration. I’ve no idea why!

‘Spring” Garden at Brigit’s Garden

There are four main sections of the garden each representing a season of the year. This one with the lovely bronze leaved sculpture representing birth is for spring. Each section is surrounded by wildflower meadows.

Garden dedicated to St Brigit.

The central section is dedicated to St Brigit with a more formal flower bed that’s surrounded by fruit trees.

The herb and medicinal plant garden

Another area of the garden is dedicated to culinary and medicinal uses for herbs and other plants.

It’s definitely a different type of garden but one that we enjoyed.

Wellington Boot plant pots.

We thought the wellington boots were an appropriate symbol for this trip to Ireland!  We have often wished that we had some as our walking shoes have often been saturated.  But shoes do dry out – and so do feet and socks.

A and J

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I had looked forward to visiting Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens in Connemara for a very long time. It did not disappoint.  I’ll cover this place in more depth later but a few photos will give you some idea. It’s special.

Blue Sky !!!! A rarity in Ireland this summer.

For once we had a sunny day. The locals were hailing this day as ‘ summer’ so we made the most of it.

The photo above was taken on the way to the abbey along the shores of one of the many indentations of the sea here – this one near the lovely village of Letterfrack.  low tide.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Eire

The story of Kylemore – both as a Castle and more recently as an Abbey and school – is a truly remarkable one.

Twists of fate have marked its history from its beginning to the present day making for a colourful history.

Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain (1,736ft) on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul, in the heart of the Connemara Mountains, The Abbey is regarded as one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings.

Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as, until very recently when the school closed, excellence in education.

Formal flower beds line the long walls of espaliered fruit trees

Pears on one of the espaliered fruit trees.

One good thing about this garden is that the fruit, berries, herbs and vegetables grown here are used by the chefs in the kitchens of the cafe and restaurant – and the food is really fresh and good. The nuns also use food from the gardens for their one use and they make jams and chutneys for sale. It’s not just a show garden.

A newly planted section of the formal gardens – all very neatly sculptured.

The gardeners were mowing this area – what a job to mow and clip around all of these designs!

The perennial borders.

A long avenue of perennials divides the two sections of kitchen garden with backing hedges screening the view of the veggies from the aristocracy of the day!

Looking down hill across both sections of the vegetable kitchen garden seen with the Connemara hills behind.

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Looking down across the formal gardens.

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Moss covered roots on very old tree at garden gate.

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Reflections in a small lough on the 2km walk back from the garden to the abbey.

More on this garden, Abbey and it’s story after we get home again.

J and A

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I’ve been looking back at some of my photos of the trip around Northern Ireland and have selected a few to share with you all.      J

Rowallane Garden near Downpatrick, County Down

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The kitchen garden area of Rowallane Walled Garden.

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The delicacy of a peony in a shower of rain.

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The rain may have bowed this Nepalese Poppy but it could not spoil its beauty.

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In the damp parklands at Rowallane there were plenty of fungi.

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This little robin was totally unafraid of us – a special treat.

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Mount Stewart Gardens – lake and park area with family mausoleum on hill side.

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Swans and cygnets by the lake at Mount Stewart.

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Abstract of raindrops on water and green algae at lakes edge.

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A lovely iris by the water’s edge.

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Even in a park of large trees, the delicate hand of nature can still be found.

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Formal gardens at Mount Stewart House.

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There are many small boat harbours – this one at Carnlough

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Views across green farms on our narrow country road explorations.

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Hedges of fuchsias line many small country roads.

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Coastal views of farm country from the very narrow, twisting, winding, steep hilly road to Torr Head. It was an experience!

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Views from B&Bs like this one by the sea at Glenariff.

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Bumblebees in geraniums – they were everywhere – a delight.

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Wildflowers on cliff paths by the ocean.

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Looking down on rocky cliffs along the north coast.

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Old ruins of castles like Deluce Castle.

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Small sailing craft lay at anchor in quiet bays – this one called Isobel.

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Families enjoyed the quiet places along the coast despite the weather – here at Portballintrae.

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Beautiful hedge roses grow alongside many small country roads.

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Tiny villages are tucked into safe bays along the north coast.

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Very occasionally, a sandy beach is protected by a rocky outcrop – this one at Ballintoy.

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A tiny pied wagtail chases insects at Ballintoy beach.

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Small cottage cafes abound like The Red Door on a farm at Ballintoy.W

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White Park Bay

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All rugged up against wind, rain and cold (in summer) at Giant’s Causeway.

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We watched from a safe vantage point as others cross the infamous rope bridge.

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Small fishing boats seem far too fragile to take on the seas out from these northern bays.

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Interesting skies always hailed the end of each day.

And that ends this small roundup of photos from our wonderful time in Northern Ireland.

J and A

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Benvarden Garden has won this year’s Northern Ireland’s top award for a privately owned garden. That doesn’t mean that it’s your average home garden. Far from it. This garden and park belonging to a large property near Coleraine on the north coast. It was a pity that in the past week there has been torrential rain in the area and many of the plants have suffered. The large rose garden  was particularly hard hit and the park area was very boggy. But the vegetable garden was the best we have ever seen. Oh to have been able to enjoy the veggies and fruits from this garden.  So herewith a few photos to give some idea of this special garden.

Old building at the entrance to the kitchen garden.

In days gone by the kitchen garden ‘boy’ slept in a tiny room at the end of this building. Now it houses the gardener’s tools.

A magnificent rooster

Chooks range freely round the grounds with this fellow as master of the lot.

Vegetable beds in the kitchen garden with espaliered fruit trees on the walls

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Cabbages with not a white butterfly to be seen – they were perfect.

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A sheltering bank of trees and shrubs behind the kitchen garden.

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Attention was paid to combining plants with a variety of textures and a variety of greens with a contrasting coloured plant to give some oomph..

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Raindrops on Lady’s Mantle – always a delight.

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Large bumble bees were everywhere enjoying a summer feed.

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Strong coloured flowers were used judiciously to give relief to what is basically a green garden. But as there are something like 700 greens, a green garden is not at all boring especially when there are so many textures of leaves to use.

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Foxgloves made a statement against the old wall of the garden.

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Peonies were hard hit by the rain but this one was in a more sheltered spot.

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The rose garden was decimated but a few survived in sheltered places.

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A surviving rose!

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Another rose surviving in a sheltered spot.

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This clematis was hidden behind a tree – it survived without a blemish.

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The rain had no effect on the lily pond in the centre of the rose garden!

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A rose bower on the path to the tennis court. The court itself was neglected. A Pity.

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A honeysuckle bower led to the large park area beyond the walled garden.

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Most of the honeysuckle had survived the rain.

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A large section of the park lands was reserved ‘private’ for the manor house.

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The pond area was available to the visitor – but much of the park was too boggy.

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to enjoy the reflections in the pond was worth the walk on a very muddy path.

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The only dry path lead us back to the farmyard buildings and cobbled courtyard.

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Unsafe stairs on old buildings were used for pot plant displays.

And back in the car park, a rambling rose.

We hope you have enjoyed this visit to Benvarden Garden – even on a showery day after a stormy week, it’s still a delight.

J and A

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