Jimi Blake: Hunting Brook Gardens / Michael Kelly: Blake House

Date: 28.09.14

Time: Both tours are separate events. Hunting Brook Gardens tour starts at 14:00, Blake House tour starts at 16:00

Venue: Lamb Hill, Blessington, Co.Wicklow (map and directions)

UPDATE: The AAI and ILI are pleased to announce that a tour of the award-winning Blake House, led by architect Michael Kelly, will be part of to this site visit. The project comprised the renovation of an existing 19th century Stewards House including the creation of two new courtyard spaces – one internal and one external. The project was designed and detailed so that the renovated cottage and new extension could be clearly and separately identified.

Hunting Brook Gardens, one of Ireland‘s best loved contemporary gardens, is neatly tucked into the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, close to the village of Blessington. Lovingly created by Jimi Blake, the gardens are an extraordinary rich and multi-layered experience. In creating these wonderful gardens Jimi has drawn on the pattern of surrounding landscape, making a space that is spatially separate but also connected. Jimi has a true understanding of the nature of Hunting Brook and there is an emotional depth and connection between the place and its design.

His love of exciting plant combinations creates a garden that is balanced, stylish and vividly displays his trademark skill of knitting together a tapestry of new and exciting plant combinations. Densely planted borders appear random however these complex albeit spontaneous schemes requires careful management and a watchful eye. Swashbuckling new cultivars, big tropical aralias, lush grasses and zingy colours create a richness of form and texture. This part of the garden seduces and excites your senses.

Contrasting with areas of quiet and lasting beauty, the woodland glade with its jewel like combinations of carefully chosen plants. Following then onto the ancient woodland where morning sunlight filters between the trees, lighting up the brook that divides the valley. This is the contemplative heart of Hunting Brook, creating a liberating sense of other worldliness.

Behind this woodland is a standing stone and ancient Bronze Age ring fort. It’s a place of history, beauty and deep connection to the landscape. It took the deft hands and vivid imagination of Jimi Blake to weave together a garden that would both frame the existing and envision the new.

Hunting Brook’s ensemble has a unique drama of contrast, between the gilded quality of the main garden borders and the expansive naturalism of the woodland and meadow landscape. Juxtaposition and contrast is a theme that runs through Jim’s work: between the modern and the romantic; the simple and the complex.

Jimi trained in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin as a horticulturist and was subsequently appointed Head Gardener at Airfield House in Dundrum, Dublin. He resuscitated a large Victorian garden to its former glory enabling the public to rediscover and enjoy a lost gem.

After twelve years at Airfield, Jimi sought a new challenge and having secured twenty acres of the family estate he established “Hunting Brook Gardens.”  He was now fulfilling his ambition of having his own garden, to grow and expand his plant collection and share his passion and knowledge with the public. He envisaged using his garden as a classroom and a showcase to demonstrate the diverse range of designs he could develop.

Jimi is a Gardening Consultant, Planting Designer, and International Lecturer giving talks and presentations all over the world.

Please Note:
– The tour starts at 2pm sharp.
– The tour of Hunting Brook Gardens costs €10 which includes tea and cake after the tour.
– Site visit to Michael Kelly’s Cow House and June Blake’s Garden is a separate event to that of Hunting Brook Gardens. The tour begins at approximately 4pm and costs €5.
– €5 for structured CPD points at both.
– Toilet facilities are available in the courtyard of Blake House for garden visitors.

This event has been organised in conjunction with the Irish Landscape Institute.