There was one of the largest ever attendances at a garden visit locally when more than  70 members and their guests visited Terry and June Irwin’s garden in Belfast on Saturday 31st August with everyone thoroughly enjoying its thoughtful design and subtle colour combinations. A huge bonus was that our tour of this good-sized (one-third of an acre) suburban garden was led by the designer, Barbara Kelso, who is also a leading member of the Society.

Unlike many gardens we visit which are well established, this is a very young garden with the house being completed only towards the end of 2012 and the garden being built early the following year. We were fascinated to see the before and after photos: from earth-moving equipment, mud and a lone birch tree to the immaculate lawn, cedar greenhouse full of tomatoes, tiered vegetable beds, tree house and adventure area for the grandchildren.

Already, some 700 plants have been planted in the garden, including many Irish cultivars. Among the latter were Pseudowintera colorata ‘Majorie Congreve’ with the crimson-bronze edges to its leaves echoing the bark on Acer griseum, Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’ with its fruits just starting to colour and the variegated holly, Ilex ‘Lady Valerie’, which also promised a rich harvest of berries but later in the season.

While the rain at the beginning may have dampened our clothes, it didn’t dampen our spirits and half way through the afternoon we were rewarded with warm sunshine.

Text and photographs from Maeve Bell.