Visit to June Blake’s Garden, County Wicklow

Dahlias June Blake's Garden Wicklow
Dahlias just starting to come into flower, June Blake’s Garden, County Wicklow

Today it’s 31C and I’ve retreated inside, it’s too hot and humid to garden seriously!

A couple of weeks ago we visited June Blake’s Garden in County Wicklow, (actually we stayed at The Cow House which is in the gardens so had free access). An evening stroll was particularly pleasurable, even though we had the garden completely to ourselves on one evening, I didn’t quite dare to potter round with a glass of wine in-hand! Although there are plenty of spaces to sit and contemplate the garden from.

June wasn’t at home. We found out she was with her brother Jimi who gardens at Hunting Brook, literally just up the road, giving talks in Seattle.

Gardening interrupted

Interesting spade for precision planting.

It’s hard to do justice to garden borders in photograph’s, even professional images often cannot convey the real sense of place. And to be honest paintings don’t always hack it either. Hopefully you’ll get the gist.

I was very jealous of the granitic sandy type soil, very Scandinavian. Scandinavian gardeners (and any other nationalities) would find a lot of interest here they can take back to their own gardens.

There are sunny and shady areas within the garden which allow for a huge range of plants to be used. I very much enjoyed the planting combinations, the more ‘common’ mixed in with real plantsman’s plants.

In June the garden is very green with gentle washes of colour. Masses of alliums were just going over. Whites, blues, deep purples and bronzy-oranges wove through the beds. The big display will be later summer when the dahlias and other later flowering plants really get going, the mood goes hot and intense to suit the season.

The use of the loose gawky Aralia echinocaulis which Jimi apparently brought back from a plant hunting expedition to China, add height and interest, as well as cooling lightly dappled shade.

Hard landscaping, including drystone walls and gravelled and cobbled paths, and precise use of hedging provide crispness and texture.

We loved the simple planting of Stipa gigantea along the drystone retaining wall by the pool, the awns dancing and shimmering against the backdrop of the wildflower meadow behind.

June Blake's Garden Wildflower Meadow June
View from the wildflower meadow back to the garden

The meadow has lovely fine grasses which allow other plants, including orchids to thrive. I’d copy the wooden ‘steps’ emerging like ship’s bones from the grass to wind you up the hill if I could.

June Blakes Garden Angelica

I’d been working on a talk on umbellifers for the Cothi Gardeners so this is for my umbellifer scrapbook, Angelica archangelica en masse – glorious!

Maybe in some ways it was good not to meet the gardener. All around you you can feel the intensity of thought, effort and creativity that goes into this really rather special place. And if you have an opportunity to visit ‘out of hours’ take it and have it (almost) to yourself!

Thanks June!

June Blake's Garden shadier planting
Shadier planting including trollius, corydalis and disporum