A garden is no place for sentimentality, Helen Dillon once said: “Good gardening is a constant process of editing. Really what it boils down to is not what you put in, it’s what you take out.”
Maybe it should have come as no surprise. After 45 years in a grand house on the south side of Dublin where she created Ireland’s most famous garden, Dillon woke up one morning and told her husband, Val, that it was time to move on. “The first thing Val said was ‘absolutely not.’ The next morning he said, ‘Do you know, I think you’re right,’ which is extraordinary, as normally there’s an argument over everything,” she recently told The Independent.
Within months, the couple had moved to a cottage by the sea, where Dillon set out to create a garden from scratch. “If you are a gardener, getting a new garden is the most exciting thing that can happen. It’s an empty palette,” she said.
Her new garden on a quiet lane is hidden from the street, surrounded by gray granite walls built in the 1800s when the property served as an orchard. But thanks to a lovely collection of images taken last summer by photographer Richard Johnston, we can stroll around–and see why House & Garden dubbed Dillon “the undisputed queen of Irish gardening.” (See more of Johnston’s photos: @theirishflowerfarmer.)
Photography by Richard Johnston.
See more ideas for designing a cottage garden in our curated guides to Garden Design 101. Read more:
- Steal This Look: Irish Cottage Garden
- Required Reading: The Irish Garden
- Everything You Need to Know About Cottage Gardens
- Tour Dillon’s previous garden at Garden Visit: Helen Dillon’s Garden in Dublin
- Garden Visit: At Home with June Blake in Ireland’s County Wicklow