Busy, Busy, Busy!!
Welcome to the blog and my apologies for its late arrival. It has been a very busy spring. Both in the garden and event wise.
The highlight event for me, was when we hosted the Irish Veteran & Vintage Car Club.
They arrived on a particularly sunny Thursday morning in a glorious array of vintage cars before having tea and scones in the tabernacle and visiting the gardens.
The vintage cars parked outside the house, gleaming in the sun were a sight to behold. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and even though they had to suffer through my first attempt at public speaking they were gracious and attentive. I look forward to seeing them again.
Most of the pictures in this blog were taken by Donal O’Neill, a man of many talents. Primarily brought into BT to renovate, build and bring to life all of Lpm’s plans, but also I’m sure you’d agree a fine photographer.
I think this is a good time to introduce the rest of the team.
Lorraine - Events manager, first contact for all clients and events, handling the myriad of details and smiling throughout
Georgina - Front of house, who can be found greeting guests, cooking pizza and pouring champagne - probably all at the same time, a woman who takes multi-tasking to a new level...
Tony – caretaking the events themselves and always looking relaxed.
Ger – whose weekly to-do-list is longer than this blog, and can be found anywhere doing anything. But still easy to find as you need only follow the music. The woodland walk is testament to his hours of strimming and mowing. It has never looked better.
Brandy – my assistant, never answers back, argues or offers a contradictory opinion. The perfect companion!
A quality team who each have their own responsibilities and duties and work together effortlessly to make Ballintubbert and the events run seamlessly.
I had hoped to include a team photo but at the mere mention of a camera they were off like greyhounds… leaving me no choice but to include sneaky photos in future blogs.
Now enough about them and on to the important things... The Garden, and this month it’s the turn of Our ‘Lutyens’ garden.
As any gardener knows, May is the month when everything springs into life.... Nettles, horsetail, bindweed, creeping buttercups (although here they gallop!) couch grass....
Oh you thought I meant flowers?
Well those too....
The beginning of the month was greeted with the gentle blossoms of Peonia Lutea var ludlowii in the Shackleton garden and Robinson meadow followed by the beautiful blousy flowers of P. Sarah Bernhart and P. Suffruticosa in the Lutyens garden. Three short weeks are all you get but they are so worth it. A glorious burst of colour before the early summer stuff kicks in. The white flowers of Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ and the fragrant snowballs of V. x carlecephalum were slightly early this year as too were the alliums, A. christophii and A. Purple sensatation and they tied in nicely with the peonies.
The “Lutyens garden” at Ballintubbert was inspired by the Edwin Lutyen designed garden at Heywood, Ballinakill, Co, Laois. (c1904). Which is one of the few gardens that Edwin Lutyens designed in Ireland. The others being The War Memorial Garden, Islandbridge, The People’s Garden, Parnell Square and a private garden on Lambay Island.
Our Lutyens garden consists of a large sunken pond surrounded by grass and encircled by two tiers of raised beds; each tier consists of four beds, approx 1.5 metres wide and 10 metres long. Four separate flights of steps lead to the centre pond and out towards the surrounding gardens, all hidden from view by the 10ft high yew hedge which forms a cloister around this and the other gardens.
Lutyens forms the heart of Ballintubbert and has played host to many beautiful wedding ceremonies.
For a few years the garden was left to its own devises and some plants ran amuck...Alchemilla mollis and a very large salvia with monstrous hairy leaves in particular, others struggled and some disappeared. It was a good lesson on which plants survive and flourish without care and which don’t.
It was agreed that drastic action was required to bring in some semblance of order and so I spent most of autumn/winter ‘16 digging, dividing, replanting and turfing out.
The invaders –A. mollis and said Salvia - were reduced drastically and replanted, mainly in the rose garden to form groundcover.
Hemerocallis and Kniphoria ‘Little Maid’ were badly congested and flowering poorly so were divided and replanted, as were Hosta Halcyon, H. sieboldiana, Zanteseschia lilies and everything else that could be was dug up, divided, manured and mulched.
The overall design is that each bed is the mirror image of its mate, with the main shrubs and key plants forming the backbone. The mid and low level plants weave and flow around this backbone creating a soft, fulsome effect.
3 key shrubs on the top tier are missing their mates, Ceanthous ‘Gloire de Versailles’, Hydrangea Panticulata ‘Limelight’ and a large Viburnum x carlecephalum. All will be reinstated this year and will help balance the overall picture.
An added side benefit of all this digging and moving is that the many spring bulbs were redistributed and we had a great show this year of Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’, chiondoxa, silla, muscari etc.
Now as we enter June the Phygelius aequalis ‘Yellow Trumpet’, Silene fimbriata and numerous Aquilegia vulgaris including A. Black Barlow and A. Fragrans have come to the fore and Alchemilla mollis still edges and weaves through each bed, softening the stone walls and bringing it all together. A heavenly scented - and as yet unidentified magenta rose- is in full flower at either end of the beds and I see lots of buds on the Hemerocallis so am anxiously waiting to see if they come to flower and what varieties there are.
Over the years many different gardeners and designers have played a part in creating Ballintubbert, Arthur Shakleton, Daphne Levinge Shackleton, Sandro Cafolla, Andrew Farelly to name a few. They each brought their own vision to the project and I feel my job is to bring a cohesiveness to the garden rooms and let their design shine through. I hope these previous gardeners would be pleased with my interpretation of their original idea.
Please do feel free to come on our open day - every Thursday - to explore and perhaps help in identifying the many varieties of flowers and shrubs here.