Visiting Glencap gardens, Kilmacanogue, Wicklow

Last Sunday I headed north to Kilmacanogue, up the N11. This village of about 1000 people is probably most often visited by cooks rushing to the Avoca store at the north of the village where you can easily, and willingly, be parted from worryingly large amounts of cash: I always think that their food halls in particular are packed with everything you want but don’t need! But you still want them.

But my  trip was to visit Glencap garden, the work of Merriel Murdock who is a regular visitor to this blog and I thought it the perfect opportunity to say hello and see what she was up to. Merriel opens her garden every now and then to raise money for the Bray (it is 3km to the north) Women’s Refuge. Because, due to demand, she is opening the garden again this Sunday (June 21 2015 – from 12-17.00) I thought it the perfect time to show you her garden – with Merriel’s permission. glencap15 Merriel has created the garden over the past 20-odd years and had a formidable job. Although the garden benefits from a wonderful view of the Big Sugar Loaf (I sound like an estate agent!) this comes with some problems. Apart from the gorse which covered the site at first – and was a fire risk – the garden is windy and littered with rocks. Merriel has used these to her advantage but, despite the fact that the site slopes steeply, she has still managed to fit in a long, narrow, flat lawn with borders on either side that you have to ‘discover’ as you walk round. It is typical of the generous nature of the garden that this formal, grand ‘set piece’ is not the first thing you see but comes as a surprise as you climb up and down the meandering paths that network the site. It is difficult to know where the garden begins and ends because Merriel has planted the boundaries too and this is a garden that can be seen from every angle. The garden is not huge but deceptively spacious (there I go again with the estate-agent jargon) because of the many paths. In most parts of the garden there is a light hand, with wild foxgloves seeding where they will and ox-eye daisies mingling with carefully placed perennials – this is not easy gardening – but where a firmer hand is needed, such as the formal borders, Merriel is not afraid to take charge and where neat is needed, neat is what you get. The heart of the garden is Merriel’s small home and the planting around this is perfect. A visit ends with tea and cakes on the patio at the back of the house with the gentle sound of her trickling small pond – just perfect.

The top of the garden gives a view of the Sugar Loaf - just like big neighbour Powerscourt!

The top of the garden gives a view of the Sugar Loaf – just like big neighbour Powerscourt!

Lowly plants are welcome here. Although it can be a weed (well IS a weed) I love Hieraceum aurantiacum or fox-and-cubs and here it looks perfect against the orange-hued rocks

Lowly plants are welcome here. Although it can be a weed (well IS a weed) I love Hieracium aurantiacum (now Pilosella aurantiaca)  or fox-and-cubs and here it looks perfect against the orange-hued rocks

A silvery avalanche of helichrysum basks in the sun. I think this is H. 'White Barn'.

A silvery avalanche of helichrysum basks in the sun. I think this is H. ‘White Barn’.

Sweet hesperis frames the cottage

Sweet hesperis frames the cottage

Stones seats the perfect distance around a fire pit (I suspect)

Stones seats the perfect distance around a fire pit (I suspect)

I shall miss Euphorbia mellifera when I return to the UK - it is ubiquitous in Ireland

I shall miss Euphorbia mellifera when I return to the UK – it is ubiquitous in Ireland

Looking down onto the patio

Looking down onto the patio

How Merriel found a long flat area in her garden for this lawn is a mystery but it works perfectly

How Merriel found a long flat area in her garden for this lawn is a mystery but it works perfectly

Colour right up to the back door

Colour right up to the back door

Happy neighbours - London's pride and hypericum

Happy neighbours – London’s pride and hypericum

Something to catch the wind

Something to catch the wind

A lovely combination of Erisymum 'Bowles' Mauve' and tree lupins

A lovely combination of Erisymum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ and tree lupins

I have never seen Erigeron karvinskianus looking happier

I have never seen Erigeron karvinskianus looking happier

How inspired is this! A common silene tucked behind a bergenia gives the evergreen a second season of colour - even better than the first

How inspired is this! A silene that Merriel says is sterile and dwarfer than the usual native plant is tucked behind a bergenia gives the evergreen a second season of colour – even better than the first

Details Glencap Cottage, Kilmacanogue,  Co. Wicklow  0872222314. 12 – 5pm, Sunday 21st June 2015.  Parking in the village or at the GAA pitch, both a 8-10 min walk, if parking on my lane is full.  The signs will be out from the village. €7 incl tea/cold drink.  In Aid of Bray Women’s Refuge & Dogs Aid. The road is very narrow and the GAA pitch is up beyond the turning for Glencap Cottage. There is limited parking at the house itself so it is best to park at the GAA pitch and walk down the hill.

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5 Comments on “Visiting Glencap gardens, Kilmacanogue, Wicklow”

  1. derrickjknight
    June 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    Thorough description and beautiful photographs. We encourage Orange Hawkweed too

    • thebikinggardener
      June 18, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

      I once visited a garden where it had completely overtaken a lawn – but it was on a dry slope and poor soil so not good for grass. I know it can be a thug but it is so pretty

  2. Bill Armstrong
    June 20, 2015 at 2:13 am #

    Absolutely beautiful and love its wildness.

  3. Candy Blackham
    June 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Thank you for visiting – I am loving gardening now that I have time for it!

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