Catching up with the founding chairman of the GLDA
Renowned horticulturalist Angela Jupe takes us on a tour of her gardens at Bellefield House which have been 12 years in the making.
17 April 2018 | 0
I came to live in Bellefield House in 2006 and the gardens have been 12 years in the making. When I arrived the 2 acre walled garden and the small woodland were overgrown with ash and willow saplings and brambles and nettles abounded as the grounds had been abandoned for over 30 years.
The old farm buildings were roofless but are now self-catering cottages.
Some 3 years after clearing, snowdrops appeared in big drifts around the house so I indulged my passion and added some 300 varieties over the next 8 years.
Lovely old varieties of daffodils appeared in the lawns and woodland and my neighbours with old houses have contributed many more so now more than 60 varieties give wonderful spring colour lasting until the tulips set the garden alight with purples, reds, pinks, and yellows.
Peonies are the drama queens of my garden, big, bold, and blowsey like over tulled ballerinas having a relatively short flowering season but well worth visiting in May and June, last year one tree peony alone produced over 63 flowers!
Other plants I love include clematis, iris, and old French roses and more recently lilies, all of which seem to like my rich soil. This was a former stud farm in the 1920’s to 1960’s so lots of horse dung had obviously been spread and mixing with the leaf debris from the 30 years of undisturbed garden it gives a good loamy soil which most plants adore.
My garden policy, now that I am older, is to leave things to seed. Many interesting crosses have occurred among the snowdrops, primulas, peonies and other promiscuous plants. I never know what will appear in an odd corner where some seedling has set itself and I tend to leave these in place as they are so obviously happy there.
Last year I finally decided to build the water feature I had planned some years ago so this summer I hope to see a profusion of blue and white Japanese iris Ensata line the 80ft (26m) rill between coach-house and glasshouse.
I call my garden “a garden of minimum intervention” – a good excuse for leaving seedlings and even some weeds to do what they will.
Life has to be made easier as one gets older! Luckily many visitors to my garden agree with me.
- In 1987 Angela established and ran the first specialist garden shop in Ireland, “The Garden Furnishing Co”, and set up the “Traditional Gardening Co”, which specialised in garden design and construction.
- In 1998, together with other design colleagues, she became the founding Chairman of the Garden and Landscape Design Association (GLDA), the professional organisation for garden design in Ireland.
- Angela is a director of the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland (RHSI) and a founding member of the Gardens of Ireland Trust.
- Angela writes articles on design and plantsmanship for magazines and newspapers and gives talks to garden and flower clubs and to heritage groups.
- She is currently writing a book on the topic of snowdrops.