Doreen and Ivan Wilson came to a new house on a hill above Dundonald between Belfast and Newtownards some 36 years ago. It was sitting in a “…barren, wind-swept field”. This is hard to believe today as the garden they have made is filled with unusual shrubs and trees, eye-catching colour combinations, a lushly planted pond and an immaculate, orderly vegetable plot. From the start the garden has been run on organic principles and, in addition to the three large compost heaps, there are comfrey leaves soaking in a butt and a wormery.

Our host, Doreen.

Some of the choice plants we admired included a colourful selection of Roscoea, a very deep blue Iris which sadly had come without a name and several pergolas festooned with scented climbing roses. In addition there was the unusual Weigelia middendorfiana in full flower, a rare Chinese tree Emmanopterys henryi found by and named in honour of Augustine Henry whose large glossy leaves contrasted beautifully with Cornus ‘Porlock, and the exotic-looking Amicia zygomeris which Doreen over-winters in the ground with just a small amount of protection.
Windy – possibly; barren – absolutely not!

One of several Hydrangea paniculata grown by Doreen
Emmenopterys with Cornus.

With thanks to Maeve Bell for images and text.