Gardens of Ireland, Terence Reeves-Smyth
There are very few fully-maintained old walled gardens in Ireland and Benvarden’s is undoubtedly the best in private hands. Gravel paths and low box hedging divide much of the ˝ hectare (1 ˝ acre) upper garden, whose curved walls support beautifully trained fruit. A colourful herbaceous border runs through the garden’s centre, punctuated by pergola arches wreathed with old rose climbers. To one side and overlooked by the glasshouse is a rose garden: a dazzling assemblage of hybrid teas arranged around a lily pond with an urn. There are David Austin roses to one side, a pretty sundial, and, in the adjacent block, a large box parterre with lavender and senecio around a weeping pear, enlivened by vivid clumps of Livingston daisies.
The adjacent lower garden is devoted to kitchen stuff, all beautifully ordered behind box-edged paths in the true 19th century style. Apples, plums, and pears are trained against the walls and on dwarf espalier supports, where the compartments are filled with regimented rows of vegetables and soft fruit. Glasshouses contain pot plants, tomatoes, vines and melons.
The nearby mansion is surrounded by much ornamental planting, both old and new, on lawns that sweep to the Bann1. An impressive cast-iron bridge of c1870 spans the river and to the west lies a mid 19th century oval pond surrounded by rhododendrons and Irish yews.
1 The river is actually the Bush.
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