End of Season

Lismore Castle Gardens close for the season at the end of October so it has been on our mind for the last week that we would fit in a final visit, something that was a challenge with the very changeable weather of this past week when strong winds and heavy rain threatened each day. When Friday morning started bright, though breezy, we snatched at the opportunity and headed off early for Lismore, a little over an hour away.

In a sense, there is another end of season at the gardens in Lismore Castle for the head gardener of past years, Darren Topps, is moving to another post – a garden of the Duchy of Cornwall, I believe – and Colm O’Driscoll, who has been head gardener at Airfield Estate, Dundrum, Dublin is taking over. Will we return in spring to see changes in the garden, we wonder. A new head gardener will have his own ways, his own preferences, his own favourite plants, his own sytle and we look forward how these will influence the gardens at Lismore. Interesting times ahead!

In the meantime, let’s have a look around the garden as we found it on Friday, end of season:

This maple has often struck me as a dull mass at the top of these steps but it has its moment at the end of the year:

Somebody has taken an “artistic” approach to cutting the box hedges in the white garden and there was an unusual cast of light and shadow when we visited:

Views down the central axis of the garden are always attractive and vary with the changes in the planting as the seasons progress through the year. On our last visit, the hydrangeas held the show but they are gone over now and touches of autumn colour, mainly sumachs at the moment, catch the eye leading to the distant church spire.

The Upper Garden has that odd combination of the formality of a castle surrounded by naturalistic planting. There is a charm to it which is very enjoyable:

The transition to the Lower Garden is via the Riding House, the internal stairway facilitating the change in level as one crosses over the entrance avenue to the castle. A fine specimen of Liriodendron tulipifera, the Tulip Tree, is in fabulous colour at the moment:

The Lower Garden is home to some extraordinary trees – the Liriodendron in the photographs above, an avenue of yew trees which have wildly outgrown their original intention, a magnificent Magnolia grandiflora against the castle wall, a common style of planting as they were considered too tender for the open garden when first introduced, and, a favourite of mine, Magnolia sprengeri ‘Diva’ where the usual descriptive word “magnificent” hardly does it justice. Even out of flower it continues to be magnificent but in spring it is truly a wonder to behond, reason enough on its own to merit a visit to the gardens.

Elsewhere in the Lower Garden:

And, there ends this year’s visits to the gardens at Lismore Castle with thanks to Darren Topps for the enjoyment his work has given over the years and best wishes to Colm O’Driscoll as he takes up his new post.


2 thoughts on “End of Season

  1. It will be interesting to see what changes come. Perhaps the artistic cut of the boxwood will grow out and be amazing!
    I’ve always wondered about M grandifolia planted against walls for hardiness issues, I’ve seen it mentioned again and again and could never match that advice with the plant which grow even here in the open garden (although not always happy). What an amazing tree ‘Diva’ has become. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The box is overshadowed by ornamental trees and has become leggy over the past years so was never going to look well again as a box hedge, never tidy, compact and trimmed etc. Perhaps, this is a last effort to do something with it before the inevitable is realised and it is removed completely – or the cherries!


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