Garden glory as we await chilly season

Olive Ryan paid a visit to the Patthana garden for some inspiration, before it closed for the season
Garden glory as we await chilly season

Paving slabs at Patthana garden defining the edge of the lawn and providing useful stepping stones.

AUTUMN is most definitely in the air, as we feel the mornings chillier and temperatures fall rapidly as the sun fades in the afternoons.

We are experiencing some beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the last few days and it is interesting how the lower light creates a different feeling at this time of the year.

The leaves are starting to flutter to the ground and the collection of them can be a regular job for the next few weeks if you’re creating leaf mould for use in the garden. Well-rotted leaf mould is a great soil conditioner with good water retention abilities, making it an ideal mulch for around trees, shrubs and herbaceous. It is also great to include in a potting mix as it will improve the water-holding ability around the roots of plants, ensuring that they are slower to dry out.

The collected leaves will be ready to use after a year and will be even more crumbly and friable after two years if you can wait that long!

As the temperatures begin to drop, there is a noticeable increase in the activity of birds in the garden, particularly the smaller ones, as they busy themselves feeding on any available berries on trees and shrubs.

 Katsura tree producing autumn colour at the upper level of Patthana garden last week.
Katsura tree producing autumn colour at the upper level of Patthana garden last week.

Native trees and shrubs like mountain ash, holly, whitethorn, spindle, elder and blackthorn and later ivy provide plenty of food in our hedgerows.

If you are considering planting a boundary hedge or windbreak, do consider using native species as they support our wildlife throughout the year.

The birds are always grateful for any extra so do not forget to fill those feeders and get the bird baths at the ready as we head into the leaner months for food collection.

Holly appears to have lots of berries this year with fewer hawes and sloes than other years on the hawthorn and blackthorn. The berries of the mountain ash disappear pretty quickly early in the autumn, a firm favourite berry with the birds!

Acers create quite the spectacle at this time of year and the autumn leaf colour can be really vibrant, lighting up corners of the garden that had gone unnoticed all year, and they come into their own now in the autumn time.

There are a diverse range of sizes in this genus of trees, which range from large parkland trees like the sycamore to smaller specimens of the Japanese maples which only get to about a metre in height. There were some beautiful smaller specimens with the leaves beginning to turn at a Wicklow garden last week.

 Rounded steps leading to the upper level of the garden, surrounded by late summer colour.
Rounded steps leading to the upper level of the garden, surrounded by late summer colour.

A visit to Patthana garden, on the last day that it was opened for this year, revealed a beautiful back garden on two levels that was just packed full of specimen plants, all combined together with thought and skill, creating an artistic space which was full of colour and ideas.

Currently, this garden occupies about one third of an acre, however there are plans for expansion in the near future, an exciting new development as we await the creative plans that its owner T.J. Maher has in store.

The garden as it exists has a lower level adjacent to the house and potting shed/garden room, which is paved in cobblestones surrounded by lush planting and a wildlife pond. There are plentiful specimen plants in pots carefully arranged around this part of the garden.

Pots can be a lot of work during the summer months, with constant watering needed, but one of the advantages of growing in them is that they can easily be transported inside for protection from frost during the winter months.

 Cobbled courtyard in front of potting shed.
Cobbled courtyard in front of potting shed.

There were lots of plants with large and delicate foliage needing frost protection, beautiful begonias and choice coleus with their large leaves looking like they have been painted.

The garden room will be home to many of these for the next few months and there are artistic touches to be seen everywhere in this space.

Hostas, ferns, banana, yucca, persicaria, tetrapanax, senecio and phormium and many more large leafed as well as flowering plants all combine together in this area to create a very textured and full planting scheme that combines perfectly to create a very inviting space where you want to see more.

The garden leads up circular granite steps to a higher level, which is home to a lawn area surrounded by mixed borders that were displaying some excellent colour for this time of the year, combined with fabulous foliage.

Salvias, rudbeckia, marigolds, geraniums, dahlias, phormium, acers, sedums, echiums and box balls all planted together to wonderful effect.

This magnificent collection of plants, against the backdrop of original granite stone walls, combines to create an exciting and atmospheric space.

Looking over the boundary hedgerow, the eye is drawn to the spire of Kiltegan church in the distance and also the paths and beds for the planned garden expansion can be seen in the foreground, creating even more anticipation and excitement for next year. The ethos at Patthana is one of sustainability and encouraging biodiversity and the garden is managed organically.

Definitely a garden to visit in 2021 for plant collectors, garden designers and anybody with an interest in creative ideas for the garden.

T.J. runs a garden course each year which consists of one class per month over nine months at the gardens. Topics like colour, propagation, pot displays, choosing plants and many other garden-related matters are explored.

Check out the website www.patthanagardenireland,com for more details.

The garden is located at the centre of Kiltegan village in County Wicklow, over an hour south of Dublin.

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