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Melanie’s story…

Here’s a bit about my garden. We bought our house in a small housing estate in 2003. The garden was a patch of thick, wet mud, devoid of life and enclosed by wooden fence panels and grim grey breeze blocks. Not having kids at the time I set making something of it with one goal being clear, I didn’t want a boring square grass monoculture. It took a lot of time thinking about design, the weather, the light, how it would tie in to the wooded area behind our wall and how to bring some life back to it and how to make it a space we can enjoy.

It’s fair to say it has evolved over time and there is a strong element of survival of the fittest in terms of which plants have been able to cope with the conditions we have with minimum intervention.  The garden is south facing and sheltered so gets very hot, but the ground is heavy clay and with a ditch behind our back wall can get very wet. I use this to my advantage now that the garden has matured as I generally don’t need to water anything in the ground over the summer. I keep planting in containers and pots to a minimum but do plant some pollinator friendly mixes in tubs along the sunny back wall of the house as this comes alive with buzzing of butterflies and bees over the summer months. The rest of the garden is a haven for slugs and snails as I gave up trying to do battle with them a long time ago. We have a wormery for veg peelings which makes fertiliser to supplement the compost from our massive compost heap.

Being a fair skinned family we would have been barred from our lovely but very sunny garden without the shade provided by the trees and shrubs we have planted. They also provide shelter and a link for all the bird life we have that visit our garden. They in turn help to keep pests down, all the ground and tree cover provides them with plenty of worms, bugs and grubs and makes a lovely nursery for young birds. A friend once said there was nowhere for kids to play in our garden but our kids have found endless adventure climbing the trees, bug hunting and making mud pies, it may not be a traditional garden you would find in a housing estate but it works for us and hopefully gives something back to the environment. I’ve embraced a reduced cutting policy with our small front lawn and am delighted to see the proliferation of dandelion, clover and self heal through it. I’m living in hope that this approach will spread to the other people on our estate.

Melanie Schweppe

Airfield Estate Gardens

Ardan Garden

Ballintubbert Gardens and House

Ballycommane Garden

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ballyrobert Gardens

Bantry House and Garden

Belvedere House Gardens & Park

Benvarden Garden

Birr Castle Garden

Blarney Castle and Gardens

Burtown House and Gardens

Colclough Walled Garden

Collon House

Coolaught Walled Garden

Coolwater Garden

Dower House

Festina Lente

Fota House – Victorian Working Garden

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Glebe Gardens

Glenavon Japanese Garden

Hester Forde Garden – ‘Coosheen Garden’

Hunting Brook Gardens

Irish National Stud and Gardens – The Japanese Gardens and St. Fiachra’s Garden

Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum and Gardens

June Blake’s Garden

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Lodge Park Walled Garden

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Mount Stewart House and Gardens

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Rothe House Museum and Garden

Rowallane Garden

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