Jimi welcomes Gardeners’ World to Hunting Brook
BLESSINGTON horticulturalist and garden designer Jimi Blake enjoyed the experience of a lifetime as Hunting Brook Gardens – his pride and joy – featured on the BBC’s renowned television series Gardener’s World last Wednesday, July 19.
The 20-acre garden has been an ongoing labour of love for Jimi for 15 years and he has been a fan of the TV show for even longer.
‘They got in touch about six weeks ago and said that they wanted to visit. Carol Klein, who is a presenter on the show, has taught course here so she was aware of Hunting Brook and that is how it came about,’ Jimi explained.
His refreshing approach to his work struck a chord with presenter Monty Don who was intrigued by Jimi’s passion for trampolining – which he does daily and uses as an effective way to examine his work from different angles.
‘I have always loved exercise and wanted to find something that I could incorporate easily into my working life. Every morning I put on some music and go out on the trampoline. I move it to whatever part of the garden I am working in and when I am bouncing I can see what needs more work or improvement,’ Jimi said.
Jimi’s passion for all things gardening is evident and he has years of experience to his credit. He trained in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin and also spent 11 years working on Airfield Estate in Dundrum before relocating home to Blessington to create Hunting Brook Gardens adjacent to his family’s farm.
As well as being open to the public as a beautiful attraction, the garden is used for teaching and Jimi runs plenty of courses throughout the year. The next one takes place on September 9.
When he isn’t at work in the garden or teaching, Jimi spends as much time as he can on the move, collecting unusual and rare plants from other horticulturalists or suppliers or swapping with other enthusiasts.
Indeed Hunting Brook Gardens is home to some rather rare plants which Jimi says you won’t see very often in this country.
According to Jimi the Gardener’s World programme did the place justice and ‘really captured the essence of the place.’
He was also surprised by how quickly the news spread on social media.
‘You forget how accessible everything is through different platforms. I do a good bit on Facebook but I was getting loads of lovely messages through Instagram. It just goes to show the power of social media.’
During his visit to the gardens Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don was blown away by the ‘hit of colour’ and the mix of plants on display. He described it as ‘a garden made in the long and distinguished tradition of plantsmen and women.’
Monty said Hunting Brook was ‘endlessly beguiling’ and added that ‘no matter how many times you visit, you will always find something here.’
Back at his own garden, Longmeadow, Monty tried out a propogation tip Jimi shared with him and divided an Astrantia which was in full-bloom – something that is never advised. If the technique works, Monty will have 18 new plants that cost nothing. ‘If it works, it’s a brilliant way to propagate,’ he said.
‘This is Jimi’s idea, not mine,’ Monty said. ‘If my garden ends up looking like his then I will be very happy.’
Hunting Brook Gardens are open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. - 5.30 p.m. Admission is €6 for adults and free for children.
One section of the 20-acre Hunting Brook Gardens in Blessington.
Monty Don from BBC’s Gardeners’ World with Jimi Blake at Hunting Brook Gardens in Blessington.