The ten­nis court must be one of the most ro­man­tic places any­where to play the game

Country Life Every Week - - My Week -

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

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