The tennis court must be one of the most romantic places anywhere to play the game
sising the old-fashioned, forgotten glamour of this shaded quarter.
The choice now is to explore the wildflower meadows beyond the three main terraces or to step further down towards the sea and the woodland. I opt to climb back up past the rose garden and arrive at the sloping meadows via a slightly surreal grove of windblown olive trees underplanted with Rosa White Flower Carpet. Here, Mr Murphy has carved smooth grass paths into the hillside and planted the banks with snowdrops and crocus for spring and ox-eye daisies for later in the year, when the grass is allowed to grow tall.
At the top of the slope is a hot border with exuberant mixes of pink geranium and the arching grass Anemanthele lessoniana or singing red-hot pokers and crisp, white Anthemis arvensis. There is a feeling of openness enhanced by Mr Murphy’s regular collaboration with an arborist to keep the tree cover full, but not too heavy, and to maintain views at the same time as retaining privacy. Comfortable groups of Adirondack chairs invite the visitor to stay awhile and enjoy the brilliant red of Crocosmia Lucifer flowers against a brightblue sky.
The woodland walk on the other side of the tennis court offers welcome shade on a hot day. When Mr Murphy began tackling the woodland, it was dense with Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and inaccessible. The woodland was thinned and logs from the felled trees used to line new paths that curve their way back up the hillside to the house. The transforming gesture was to scatter about 50 tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) throughout the space, where their luminous, mid-green canopies form alluring wave-like tiers of their own.
This is a garden for romantic walks, tennis, hide and seek, eating, talking and enjoying the views. All of these activities could be happening at once and with ease. I leave thinking I’m walking out of the pages of Tender is the Night—and sad that this dreamy sojourn has come to an end. Dominick Murphy (00 353 86 825 6392; www.murphysheanon.ie)
Perennial planting at the entrance of the woodland in the lower part of the garden. On display are Crocosmia Lucifer, Lysimachia punctata, Penstemon Garnet, Crambe maritima and Kniphofia