Butterstream, County Meath

On the opposite side of the Rose Garden lies another even smaller compartment, the Red and Yellow Garden, also delimited by tall clipped beech hedges. This little area has been reserved for all the vibrant colours - the reds, scarlets, yellows and strident oranges that are rather difficult to mix in borders to good effect. Some of the most startling come from the day lilies - the golden-yellows of Hemerocallis 'Golden Chimes' and the brilliant reds of H. 'Stafford'. Here the tiny vermillion flowers of the Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica), the large daisy-like bright orange heads of Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona', and masses of heleniums all provide vivid colour from midsummer to autumn, while the sword-shaped erect leaves of a variety of crocosmia instil an exotic touch. The tropical feeling is increased by bronze-leaved phormiums and yellow grasses. Towering above is a lovely Robinia 'Frisia' whose leaves catch the light spectacularly even on a dull day.

The Woodland Garden occupies a sizable area beyond the Red and Yellow compartment. The emphasis here is on foliage variations and hostas predominate with no less than sixty-five varieties represented. They are grown in great masses and give a wave-like effect beneath the trees. An exotic wooden structure surmounted by a pineapple has been built at one end of this garden, while a handsome Gothick bridge bends across the adjacent stream, its banks planted with drifts of primulas. The centre-piece of Butterstream is the large Herbaceous Garden. This has an oval island bed with a surrounding grass path and is planted magnificently - a rare sight in Ireland these days. The large beds, thirty feet wide and one hundred-feet long, contain a wide choice of herbaceous perennials such as lobelia, mac leaya, kniphofia, allium and phlox, all yielding a good succession of colour from late June to late October. They are planted in bold clumps and arranged in marvellous colour schemes that range from yellows to blues to mauves, pinks and plenty of whites, with the more severe colours left out. Some plants to note are the thistle-like Eryngium x zabelii 'Slieve Donard', the violet blue-flowering Salvia nemorosa 'East Friesland', the lovely pink-flowering Potentilla nepalensis 'Miss Willmott', and the tall branching spikes and pink-buff flowers of the coral plume, Macleaya microcarpa, at the back of the borders.

A large rectangular lawn extends beyond the herbaceous borders with flanking shrubs, tall trees, deep purple hedges and a rustic bower, providing a contrast to the strong colours and confined spaces of other parts of the garden. Close by a laburnum-clad pergola leads into the cool atmosphere of an Italian garden, reflected in a rectangular pool replete with water lilies and carp. Here in the little classical pavilion visitors can relax and - in late summer - watch the white flowers of Epilobium angustifolium album dance beneath this sylvan scene.

Located just outside Trim on the Kildalkey Road. NGR N 797572.
Open daily, May to September, except Mondays.
Plants for sale.
Suitable for wheelchairs. Admission charged.