Here is just one of the four borders at Hunting Brook Gardens Jimi Blake shared with Gardens Illustrated for the Plant Issue. For the full set, why not pick up a copy of the magazine.

Wormery compost
© Vicki Turner

Exotic mix

Named in memory of a good friend of mine, Ashley’s Garden is the largest border at Hunting Brook Gardens. Architecturally leaved plants, such as bananas, cannas and pollarded trees, combine with long-flowering perennials to provide a tropical feel. Purple fennel and Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’ link this area to the other, more naturalistic areas of the garden. Plant repetition is a key design element and the most dominant plants are changed regularly to keep the border fresh. I am a huge fan of bright yellow and vivid cerise. Most of the large, single red, orange and magenta dahlias in this border are from my own Hunting Brook selections.

Hunting Brook Gardens
© Jason Ingram

1 Canna ‘Taney’ Huge glaucous leaves with apricot flowers through most of summer and into autumn. 2.5m. USDA 7a-10b.

2 Astilbe chinensis var. taquetii ‘Purpurlanze’ A good strong colour used as a repetition plant through the border. 90cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.

3 Dahlia pink seedling One of my many Hunting Brook single-flowered dahlias. I plant these out mid-May when they are decent-sized plants. 85cm.

4 Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’ A biennial with purple stems and pale-pink umbels. Flowers in late summer and autumn. 1.5m.

5 Monarda ‘On Parade’ The best monarda I trialled a few years ago, with magenta flowers and mildew-resistant leaves. Loves heavy clay soil. 60cm.

6 Dahlia ‘Sunny Boy’ The main flower that leads the eye along in this border with bright-yellow flowers. 85cm.

7 Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ The tall fennel softens this planting with its feathery clouds of bronze/purple foliage, followed by soft yellow umbels. 1.2m.

8 Artemisia lactiflora Guizhou Group Purple-stained leaves with a spray of creamy white flowers in late summer into autumn. Provides a naturalistic cloudy effect to the planting. 1.2m.

9 Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ The red banana is repeated through this bed, creating exotic drama like no other plant. 5m. AGM. RHS H2, USDA 10a-11b.


Address Hunting Brook Gardens, Lamb Hill, Blessington, Co. Wicklow W91 YK33, Republic of Ireland. Tel + 353 (0)87 285 6601. Website Open April to September, Wednesday to Saturday, 11am-5.30pm. Admission €8.