Dermot was keen to lay out Clondeglass in the traditional style. Walled gardens all over the country were laid out using a system of paths - a central path intersected in the centre of the garden with a cross path, and off these were beds and borders. This was originally the case in Clondeglass. To the east side of the garden, Dermot laid out a path leading the full length of the garden and on each side he set out borders. On the south part of the garden were borders where he used a rich range of plants and colours. On the north end, he devoted the double borders to, primarily, roses and old-fashioned cottage garden plants.
Last autumn, at the north end of the central border, Dermot planted two borders using the rose 'Hyde Hall', an excellent David Austin hybrid that produces scented pink flowers over a long period and is noted for being very disease resistant. He also plans to incorporate the rose 'Wild Edric', another of David Austin's introductions. This particular variety makes a superb low hedge, is very disease resistant and is noted for its exquisite scent.
In preparation for planting, the soil was double-dug and when the plants were placed in position, Dermot started a routine of foliar feeding. Organic methods were used for best results. The foliar feed was applied in a clean sprayer on a fortnightly basis. Dermot used EM, which was obtained from Natasha Harty, Jamesbrook, Midleton, Co. Cork. If you send a stamped, addressed envelope to Natasha, she will send a leaflet explaining how this organic liquid works and a price list of the various organic products that she makes.
In a central part of the garden, the beds are divided by a cross-shaped path and these are edged with stepover apple trees. These are available from larger garden centres around the country, but they need to be ordered in advance of autumn planting. A wide range of varieties are available, including eaters and cookers. Dermot has used a large selection. Stepover trees are treated in the same way as regular apple trees in that they require pollination. When selecting varieties it's important to have a range that are compatible, and this should be checked out when purchasing. Also, it's essential that the ground is well prepared and plenty of organic matter has been incorporated in advance of planting as they will be in situ for many years to come.
The pruning is done in the traditional way, except that you are keeping the shape of the tree as a stepover. You can expect a crop to appear in their second year, when they have started to establish, and they should fruit every year thereafter. Dermot also foliar feeds his apple trees during the year to keep them in good condition and healthy.
In Clondeglass, the hot borders have had many plants incorporated which were inspired by regular visits to Monet's garden at Giverny. These plants, which do well in Clondeglass and other Irish gardens, include orange and yellow nasturtiums, orange tiger lilies and a wide range of different dahlia varieties, choosing from the same colour palette.
In this programme, you can see Dermot taking a garden group around Monet's garden - something he does on a regular basis in association with The Travel Department www.thetraveldepartment.ie He will be taking trips again this year and, for more details, check out The Travel Department's website.
The trip is designed to inspire people and you don't have to be an expert gardener to accompany Dermot or to enjoy the trip. On his trips to Paris, Dermot usually meets local guide Patricia Weaver, who is a keen gardener and accompanies the group to visiting Versailles (the palace and gardens) as well as Monet's home and garden in Giverny.
There are two parts in Monet's garden: a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road. The two parts of Monet's garden contrast and complement one another.
When Monet and his family settled in Giverny in 1883 the piece of land sloping gently down from the house to the road was planted with an orchard and enclosed by high stone walls.
A central alley bordered with pines separated it into two parts. Monet had the pines cut down, keeping only the two yews closest to the house to please Alice.
From this Clos Normand of about one hectare, Monet made a garden full of perspectives, symmetries and colours.
The land is divided into flowerbeds where flower clumps of different heights create volume. Fruit trees or ornamental trees dominate the climbing roses, the long -stemmed hollyhocks and the coloured banks of annuals. Monet mixed the simplest flowers (daisies and poppies) with the most rare varieties.
The central alley is covered over by iron arches on which climbing roses grow. Other rose trees cover the balustrade along the house. At the end of the summer nasturtiums invade the soil in the central alley.
Claude Monet did not like organized nor constrained gardens. He married flowers according to their colours and left them to grow rather freely.
Always on the look-out for rare varieties, he bought young plants at great expense. "All my money goes into my garden," he said. But also: "I am in raptures."
In 1893, ten years after his arrival at Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighbouring his property on the other side of the railway. It was crossed by a small brook, the Ru, which is a diversion of the Epte, a tributary of the Seine River. With the support of the prefecture, Monet had the first small pond dug ; even though his peasant neighbours were opposed. They were afraid that his strange plants would poison the water.
Later on the pond would be enlarged to its present day size. The water garden is full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly.
In this water garden you will find the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, other smaller bridges, weeping willows, a bamboo wood and above all the famous nympheas which bloom all summer long. The pond and the surrounding vegetation form an enclosure separated from the surrounding countryside.
Never before had a painter so shaped his subjects in nature before painting them. And so he created his works twice. Monet would find his inspiration in this water garden for more than twenty years. After the Japanese bridge series, he would devote himself to the giant decorations of the Orangerie.
Always looking for mist and transparencies, Monet would dedicate himself less to flowers than to reflections in water, a kind of inverted world transfigured by the liquid element.
Monet had it built by a local craftsman. By the time the garden was restored the bridge was too damaged to be saved. It had to be rebuilt by a firm from Vernon. It is made of beech wood. The wisterias were planted by Monet.
If you're interested in visiting Monet's garden with Dermot, he will be taking a trip this summer with the travel department, which is booking now. For more details, visit www.thetraveldepartment.ie
One of Monet's favourite flowers were water lilies, which he loved to paint. To grow water lilies, you need a reasonably large pool. May is the ideal time for buying and planting water lilies. They come in a wide range of colours. A good place to visit to look at them and to purchase is the National Garden Exhibition Centre in Kilquade, Co. Wicklow. Also, Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre in Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, and Johnstown Garden Centre on the Naas Road are good sources. They also sell water lily baskets, which are essential for growing lilies correctly, along with a wide range of aquatic plants that will help you to get your own version of Monet's lily pond off to the right start.
Colchicums also feature in Monet's garden, where they have been allowed to naturalise under trees. These look like giant crocuses. Dermot refers to them as being a plant which was well known for the treatment of gout, as colchicine. They are planted in summer to flower in autumn. Mr Middleton Garden Shop is a good source for different varieties www.mrmiddleton.com
Growing against the house and surrounding the window of Monet's bedroom is the large rambling rose called 'Mermaid'. This has beautiful large single yellow flowers and is known for its rather nasty sharp thorns. It's not always available from garden centres and may have to be ordered for planting in the autumn. You need plenty of room if you're planning on growing this beautiful, old-fashioned rose.
In Clondeglass, plants sown in the tunnel were beginning to crop. These included tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, among others. Because of the large glut of tomatoes, Dermot was keen to use the them and decided to make chutney.
Place 1kg of chopped tomatoes into a saucepan with 1kg of peeled and chopped cooking apples and 0.5kg of chopped onions. Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes.
Add 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, 1 chilli (also finely chopped) and approx. 1 inch of fresh ginger (finely chopped), along with 1stp ground mixed spice, 300g of brown sugar, 400ml of cider vinegar and 300g of raisins. Simmer for 2 hours. Transfer into jars and seal. This will keep for up to 1 year and is a great way to deal with a glut of tomatoes from the garden.
The variety 'Gardeners Delight' is one of Dermot's favourite tomatoes. It produces small tomatoes of excellent flavour and is generally easy to grow under cover of a polytunnel or greenhouse.
While waiting for crops to mature, there are often gaps and it's very handy to use a 'catch crop' in between. Useful catch crops include lettuce, and varieties Dermot likes to use are 'Little Gem' - which has very good flavour and forms a neat plant - along with 'Nymans', which helps to add colour to a salad. These are easy to grow from seed and sometimes it's possible to buy young plants at a garden centre.
Another crop saving method Dermot showed on the programme was to take advantage of fresh growing herbs. By using an ice cube maker, which can be found in most domestic freezers. In this, Dermot placed a mixture of chopped herbs including basil, parsley, chives, etc, filled it with water and froze them into ice cubes, which could be used at a later stage when there was a lack of fresh-growing herbs in the garden. They can simply be added to stews and casseroles to add a touch of fresh flavour to winter cooking.
Clondeglass is situated in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom mountains in Co. Laois. Dermot was keen to explore the local countryside and he met up with expert Dr John Feehan of UCD, who took him on one of his favourite walks through the forest of Glen Barrow in the Slieve Blooms, where they looked at wild-growing mushrooms and the abundance of nature to be found in the area.
This week, Dermot took delivery of the new gates that he had ordered from CJ Sheeran in Mountrath. These were handmade using traditional methods and have been treated - though Dermot does plan on painting them. www.timberfencinggates.ie
The newly-restored and reduced in size fireplace was installed by Sean O'Meara www.marblefireplaces.ie
Dermot leaves fading flowers of sunflowers, amongst others, for the birds to take advantage of the seeds before winter really takes hold. When the seeds have all been removed by the birds, the plants are cut down, chopped up and added to the compost heap.
Dermot received some bare root roses which he had ordered earlier in the year. Among these were some special roses that he had been looking forward to including in the garden. The variety Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' is one which he had admired on Isola Bella while visiting Lake Maggiore one one of his trips to the Italian Lakes with The Travel Department. The plants arrived bare root in November and a hole was dug in the vegetable garden where the bare roots were protected with soil being placed over them until he was ready to plant them. Dermot planted this beautiful rose on the programme and is looking forward to it flowering in the summer of 2011. To see more detail, check out Dermot's book on roses 'Roses Revealed', published by Kyle Cathie and available now in paperback in leading bookshops nationwide.