Situated on the sunny, south-facing flanks of the Lamb Hill in the foothills of the lofty Wicklow mountains, Hunting Brook garden is the boldly idiosyncratic creation of Jimi Blake, the noted Irish horticulturist, teacher and plantsman who first came to prominence during the 1990s as the head gardener of the historic Airfield Gardens in Dundrum, Co Dublin.
At the heart of this excitingly contemporary Irish garden lies Jimi’s Wicklow home, a modest timber house that he built in 2002 and where he now lives with his partner Trevor and their friendly Old English sheepdog, Doris. Not just a home, the house is also the informal headquarters and classroom for the many different gardening and health and wellbeing workshops held at Hunting Brook, as well as the highly regarded plantsperson’s courses that he runs there twice a year.
Surrounding his home are many examples of the fiercely colourful and theatrically beautiful, large-scale planting combinations for which Jimi has become so well known, and which fill Hunting Brook’s sunny beds and steep banks and tumble down along the edges of its curling pathways.
Hidden at the bottom of a secret, shady gorge that lies just west of the house is the chattering mountain stream that gives Hunting Brook its name and which runs through it like an artery, tumbling its way over granite boulders and through a tranquil woodland that Jimi has begun to clothe with an understorey of choice shade-loving plants. From here, a zigzag of rough-hewn forest paths and a simple wooden bridge lead visitors across the stream, before winding steeply upwards into a sunny hillside and a wild meadow where a solitary Bronze Age standing stone keeps watch over the watery west Wicklow landscape.