Mount Usher, County Wicklow

The bike takes a visit to one of Ireland's most notable gardens

The bike takes a visit to one of Ireland’s most notable gardens

Today was Sunday and the sun had a bit of a lie in. It was a cool cloudy morning but there was a vague hint of brightness by lunchtime so I headed north to visit Mount Usher, one of the most famous gardens in Ireland. Although originally private it is now owned by the Avoca company which means that, if nothing else, the food is good! I have been several times because it is conveniently placed between me and Dublin and is only a few minutes from the N11 main Dublin – Wexford road. To be honest it is a good place to get lunch or a snack if you are passing because you do not have to go into the garden to avail yourself of the cafe.

I won’t go on about the history too much because you can visit the website to get more detail but basically it is one of the best preserved ‘Robinsonian’ gardens. The gardens were created by the Walpole family for 112 years, starting in 1868 and the 8 ha site benefits from having the Vartry river running through it which adds interest and is crossed by several ‘exciting’ bridges. The river walk at one end is extraordinary for having quite rough paths right by the water – I am sure this would have ‘health and safety’ railings if it was in the UK!

William Robinson influenced the creation of the garden and he is one of the most famous Irish gardeners though best known for his writings through which he made a fortune. He railed against the Victorian style of formal bedding and was greatly influential in steering garden design away from formality. He bought Gravetye Manor in Sussex, England. His books were ‘The Wild Garden’ and  ‘The English Flower Garden’. He also created the magazine ‘The Garden’ after which the current Royal Horticultural Society magazine is named.

Anyway, the garden has a romantic, informal atmosphere and is home to many fine and rare trees and shrubs. I have been at many times of year and there is always something interesting to see. Today was my first spring visit and as good as ever. The mild climate allows many slightly tender shrubs to thrive. Stray off the main paths and discover lots of hidden views and gems.

Mount usher 14 5

The river Vartry bisects the garden and gives some wonderful views

The river Vartry bisects the garden and gives some wonderful views

Amelanchier looking particularly splendid with the river Vartry as a background

Amelanchier looking particularly splendid with the river Vartry as a background

Japanese maples tentatively opening their foliage

Japanese maples tentatively opening their foliage

The same trees from the other side of the river

The same trees from the other side of the river

Make sure you explore off the main paths to discover hidden secrets like this path between two trees

Make sure you explore off the main paths to discover hidden secrets like this path between two trees

The moist climate permits plants to thrive in the most unlikely places like this wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) nestled in the furrowed back of a metasequoia

The moist climate permits plants to thrive in the most unlikely places like this wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) nestled in the furrowed back of a metasequoia

Red cowslips have seeded in the grass by 'The Island' among scillas and wood anemones

Red cowslips have seeded in the grass by ‘The Island’ among scillas and wood anemones

Berberis valdiviana from Chile is one of the many rare shrubs that thrives here. This specimen is huge and is currently dripping with bunches of bright flowers

Berberis valdiviana from Chile is one of the many rare shrubs that thrives here. This specimen is huge and is currently dripping with bunches of bright flowers

No plant in the whole of the garden year is more wonderful than the fresh foliage of veratrum. The gorgeous, pleated leaves are without comparison. It is almost a shame that they elongate to produce greenish or purple flowers later in the year. Hostas can only dream of looking as good as this!

No plant in the whole of the garden year is more wonderful than the fresh foliage of veratrum. The gorgeous, pleated leaves are without comparison. It is almost a shame that they elongate to produce greenish or purple flowers later in the year. Hostas can only dream of looking as good as this!

Lysichiton americanum is no delicate beauty and I would have to have a large garden to give it the room it needs but seeing it elsewhere, like here where it can be spectacular now and a huge, lounging lout later is a joy

Lysichiton americanum is no delicate beauty and I would have to have a large garden to give it the room it needs but seeing it elsewhere, like here where it can be spectacular now and a huge, lounging lout later is a joy

Cordyline indivisa is a spectacular relative of the more common and easily grown C. australis

Cordyline indivisa is a spectacular relative of the more common and easily grown C. australis

No rarity but who cannot fail to stare in awe at the sheer beauty of Prunus 'Kanzan'

No rarity but who cannot fail to stare in awe at the sheer beauty of Prunus ‘Kanzan’

I mentioned Corydalis flexuosa 'Purple leaf' the other day and here it is again, here cleverly planted with astilbes. The astilbe foliage is a rich combination and will hide the gaps left when the corydalis dies down

I mentioned Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple leaf’ the other day and here it is again, here cleverly planted with astilbes. The astilbe foliage is a rich combination and will hide the gaps left when the corydalis dies down

Another good combination, this time of the corydalis with yellow-leaved geranium, possibly 'Anne Folkard'

Another good combination, this time of the corydalis with yellow-leaved geranium, possibly ‘Anne Folkard’

We do not often associate euphorbias with fragrance but the flowers of E. mellifera are strongly scented of honey. It is a slightly tender, evergreen, shrubby species and worth growing for its perfume which is extraordinary

We do not often associate euphorbias with fragrance but the flowers of E. mellifera are strongly scented of honey. It is a slightly tender, evergreen, shrubby species and worth growing for its perfume which is extraordinary

http://www.mountushergardens.ie

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