by Ciaran Burke

Hester Forde is another one of those for whom a new plant is impossible to resist. She is a chronic plantaholic for which there is little hope of rehabilitation, Thank God!

Her suburban garden in Glounthane, by the a sea inlet east of Cork City, is packed with plants, Surrounding perfect lawns, the borders of the front garden reveal little soil, a complete plant cover is created by a tapestry woven with shades of fren leaves and desorated by floral jewels.

On the patio, beside the path and by the front door, troughs and pots grow alpines and miniature hostas. In the back garden white stemmed Betula utilis var. jacquemontii are trimmed of their lower branches, they provide interest in the winter, shade and shelter for low growing red leaved Japanese maples, and structure through the year.

Other trees provide a lightly shaded canopy above packed borders. One of the most strinking trees is the fine specimen of Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’. It’s double pinnate golden leaves air airy and colourful all summer.

Every few centetres there grows an unusual plant. Shefflera taiwanianna, Arisames consaguineum and Tetrapanax papyrifer all share the same few metres space. In one third of an acre, Hester has condensed an arboretum and five continents of flora.

At the rear of her plot, many admoired her tidy and productive compost heaps, the engine room of the garden. Her glasshouse was crammed with plants, she is a dedicated propagator too. Her garden is an inspiration, so much can grow in so little space and still look perfect. I hope there is never a cure find for plantaholics.

Photos below – from top:
Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ in front garden; coveted seat in front garden; hostas in pots; a group of Betula itilis var. jacquemontii in front garden; Miscanthus sinensis ‘Cosmopolitan’: lawn in rear garden; compost heaps; ceramic pot; Arisaema; hosta leaves

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