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Camilla Care

Expected the unexpected when exploring the beautiful garden created by the Naughton family in the Cork countryside

Vaseline 4 weeks ago

FROM time to time I experience a garden that makes me pause and say: Wow! This is one of those gardens.

I first visited this outdoor room in Donoughmore, Co Cork, about nine years ago, when Margaret Naughton and her son Corey wanted advice on how to turn their green field in the middle of rural Ireland into a garden.

In the intervening nine years, this couple has been busy.

Margaret Naughton in her garden in Donoughmore, Co Cork.  Photos: Dan Linehan
Margaret Naughton in her garden in Donoughmore, Co Cork. Photos: Dan Linehan

What they have created is unexpected. Even if you drive in and park near the front door, you are somehow hidden from the wonders within.

Go to the back door, as I did, and you will be met by a spectacular specimen of the Salix Mount Aso with its beautiful furry, red catkins, which grows next to the pond and water feature and has matured beautifully in the five or six years since it appeared. was created.

The ghost tree plant.
The ghost tree plant.

It is probably accurate to say that the garden is laid out as a series of rooms or different areas and like any good garden the journey between them is seamless, except of course for the walled garden which is protected by the eight foot high wall.

Construction of the wall took more than six years and is not yet completed – although in reality only a few small stones remain to be placed.

This garden is part of the family home and as such has evolved with the family.

Camellia is in Margaret Naughton's garden.
Camellia is in Margaret Naughton’s garden.

In 2017, Margaret’s mother passed away and many of the plants growing in her garden were moved to an area here in Donoughmore that has since forever been known as Nana’s Garden, complete with a beautiful metal archway at the entrance.

A well-positioned rock acts as an interesting focal point in this area and this theme is repeated several times throughout the garden. In the most appropriate situations you will encounter similar rocks and stones, none of which happened by accident, as Corey and Margaret are fast. to let you know.

Another focal point within the walls is perfectly situated in the garden to accentuate the formality within.

The garden is a very interesting mix of formality and informality.

The Spring Exhibition in County Cork Garden.
The Spring Exhibition in County Cork Garden.

Several formal and perfectly symmetrical spaces have been created with an urn or similar object to attract attention. I don’t know whether it’s Margaret or Corey or a combination of both doing the drawing, but it certainly works.

One formal area, where you enter the garden through the front door, is perfectly divided into quadrants with a Liquidambar Worplesdon in the center of each and then surrounded by Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and box hedges.

The centerpiece of this room is waiting for its centerpiece and I can’t wait to see what comes next. This is a garden that has been well thought out, built over time and not yet finished. It is very clearly a garden created and created by people, a bit like myself, who love plants.

Daffodils on the driveway of Donoughmore Garden.
Daffodils on the driveway of Donoughmore Garden.

Daphne ‘Jacqueline Postill’, Helleborus Orientalis, Embothrium coccineum and Tetrapanax papyrifer are not plants that many of us would consider weeds. But considering that the closest technical definition of a weed is “a plant that grows somewhere we don’t want it,” then these plants here have become weeds, a nice problem to have. They are so happy with their living conditions here that they spread out and sow the seeds of homosexual abandon.

There are several hundred shrubs, countless perennials and at least two hundred trees growing here – not to mention the dahlias that are about to break ground for the coming season.

Mahonia plant in Margaret Naughton's garden in Donoughmore, Co Cork.
Mahonia plant in Margaret Naughton’s garden in Donoughmore, Co Cork.

Margaret describes herself as a dahlia addict and she has over 600 varieties in cultivation, some of which are now in their own purpose-built raised beds, built to a reasonable height for, as Margaret says: “None of us are getting any younger and I want don’t strain my back when I’m gardening.”

Gardening and building a garden is all about trial and error for us and we are not afraid to admit when something isn’t working. Corey has not been slow to pick things up and move them if they don’t work where they were
originally planted.

Mount Aso willow in Donoughmore Garden.
Mount Aso willow in Donoughmore Garden.

A hedge of Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ that was unceremoniously lifted from its original home to where it now stands, behind the polytunnel and nursery area where it now flowers and blossoms in the summer.

Corey has a great reputation for dogwoods and there are numerous varieties of cornus trees and shrubs, the latter creating a beautiful winter trunk effect. As I walked through the garden with them, he looked almost angrily at a group of, perhaps my favorite species,
Midwinter fire.

Cross is the wrong word because I don’t think that’s in his nature. He is a gardener after all and we tend to be a quiet bunch, but the clump definitely annoys him as they are weaker and smaller than the others. species growing nearby and I suspect they will have found a new home the next time I visit.

Aphrodite grows in the Donoughmore plot.
Aphrodite grows in the Donoughmore plot.

He also loves acers, cannas and willows, but his face really lights up when he talks about the purple twisted hazel, Corylus avellana Contorta Purpurea. There are several everywhere, fantastically dramatic in winter with their corkscrew stems, and soon covered in their purple leaves for spring and summer.

Margaret also has a passion for eucalyptus and she can be grateful that she gardens in the countryside on a large plot, as there is no way she could grow so many in a smaller garden.

The rear view of the pond function.
The rear view of the pond function.

In the meantime, Corey has developed into quite a galanthophile, a snowdrop addict. This is an addiction I don’t have. I love the humble common snowdrop and although I admire many of the more unusual varieties, I have never felt driven to collect them, for which I consider myself extremely fortunate given the prices a small bulb can fetch.

Here you will find interesting specimens, Juniperus recurva, Heptacodium miconioides, Stachurus praecox, hitherto unknown varieties of cornus, together with both the green and variegated forms of corylopsis.

All this and I haven’t even mentioned the witch hazels, many of which I have been able to admire in full bloom recently.

Camellias in Donoughmore Garden.
Camellias in Donoughmore Garden.

I can’t think of anything other than the arboretum in Fota, where you will see so many of these beautiful hamamelis growing.

I normally recommend planting the pallida or Arnold Promise varieties as these yellow forms are more striking and visible during the winter months than the interesting red forms such as Diane or Orange Beauty. But after reacquainting myself here with Jelena, I may be in favor of the switch and the Aphrodite variety has positively thrilled me.

This garden has evolved over the past nine years from a green spot to a place worth a visit.

Yes, it is beautifully landscaped and has many healthy and interesting plants, but what really makes it special is the thought, love and work that has gone into it.

Mahonia's glossy leaves.
Mahonia’s glossy leaves.

I know it’s a metaphor that can be overused, but creating this garden has been a “journey” for Margaret and Corey – a journey on which they have learned about planning, design and plants, their names, what they like to grow. , their eventual height and spread, how to propagate and everything else the wonderful world of gardening teaches us.

The Naughtons’ garden is private, although they have opened it in the past for important causes such as Marymount Hospice.

Gold and black bamboo.
Gold and black bamboo.

Keep an eye out for it to be open in the future and if you see it advertised, jump at the chance to visit.