GLDA Garden Visit Saturday 13th June

GLDA Garden Visits on Saturday 13th June sponsored by Nangle & Niesen Tree Nursery of Cork.


The day started with a visit to Michael Hannan’s garden near St. Margarets.  This garden was designed by Full Member Andrew Glenn-Craigie.  In garden terms it is a “new garden” having been developed over the last fifteen years.


The tour began with an introduction from Michael, given on a terrace outside the rear of the house looking across a tiered lawn to a small lake and a vista to the open countryside beyond.  The main elements of the garden are to either side of this lawn area.  We started in a clockwise direction with the arboretum, several of the trees were unknown to many of us.  Among the more unusual varieties were; Chamaecyparis nootkatenis “Pendula”;  Quercus castaneifolia “Green Spire”; Aesculus pavia (Red buckeye); Taxodium distichum var. imbricatum “Nutans” as well as a large collection of Acer palmatum varieties.  From the arboretum we moved passed the small lake with its waterfall, starting from a raised area above the lake and sending water tumbling into the water below. At the end of the lake we crossed a curved wooden bridge and moved on to the more formal elements of the garden.


We came to these more formal areas through a tall tunnel of Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’ trained over a metal frame, from which we entered, a small sunken garden with a central small pond and fountain feature fed by four narrow rills coming from fountain masks. Several trompe l’oeil paintings decorate niches in the outer walls, while roses fill the beds around the fountain.  Leaving this sunken garden we walked along an allée of tall Carpinus betulus “Frans Fontaine” and on to the end of a long rill that finished in a square pond with a spectacular sculpture feature.  Either side of the rill is planted with Quercus robur “Koster”.  From here we passed to the front of the house and the final element of the tour, a lovely intimate Italianate sunken garden in what had once been a tennis court.  We entered through an ornamental metal gate and stepped down into an area with formal rose beds and a large central raised lily pond. On the upper level at the end of the garden was a classical temple set off beautifully by a Fagus sylvatica “Purpurea” beyond the garden.

The rill at Sunnymead


This was a fascinating visit and it was obvious just how much work and thought Michael and his family have put into the garden, both its maintenance and the ongoing development and we all felt privileged to have seen it.

Bramley Cottage Perennial borders

From here we moved on the garden of Jane McCorkell MGLDA.  Here before we had a look at the garden we fell upon a lunch of a delicious lentil salad, green salad and smoked salmon.  This we were able to eat out in the garden in beautiful sunshine.  Jane gave us an outline of the history of the house, built in early 1700s, and the work she has done on the garden and intends to do over the coming years. We then explored unescorted.


The short sweeping drive has large beds of bold groups of perennials with frames of formal hedges.  The major part of the garden is to the front and one side of the house which is south facing.  The necessity of having to dig out soil from around the lower ground floor of the house has been beautifully handled allowing for densely planted banks and to the rear a lovely shady courtyard area backed by a birch wood.

Shackleton Garden
Shackleton Garden


The tour then headed for ‘The Shackleton Garden’ Beech Park, Clonsilla.

John Harrington, Foreman of Works for the Parks Department in Fingal County Council greeted us at the gate into the walled garden.  John explained that FCC took over the garden two years ago, it was totally overgrown.  During the first year with the help from volunteers from ‘Gateway’ they had to cut their way through Elder, briars and nettles, these were strimmed, chipped and let rot as mulch.  The original pathways were uncovered when the overgrown roses and shrubs have been gradually cut back to their original size.


With the stranglehold of invaders now gone a strong structure of trees and shrubs has been uncovered.  The perennials once lost over-grown are gradually reappearing.


John would freely give nuggets of useful information, the rabbits (a frequent topic of discussion in all the gardens today) prefer blue Campanula’s to white flowered ones! Plus moments of fun, discussing the Fig growing upon the brick wall; John would say in all seriousness that the Fig started the clothing industry…..with Adam & Eve.


This garden oozes atmosphere in its romanticism; the old green house, the tool shed, the hotbed with its walls covered in toadflax and spleenwort.  John’s innovation and ingenuity with garden tools and his dedication to the cause made it an enjoyable tour and a perfect way to end the day.