The two curving, steeply sloping banks- one sunny, one more shady- which rise up from either side of the main avenue towards the house are one of Hunting Brook garden’s best-known features, creating dramatic changes of level that emphasise the theatrical nature of the complex, often extravagantly colourful planting in this part of the garden.
In the damper, shadier bank that lies beneath the house, plants wrap themselves around and right up to the building, as well as under the projecting wooden deck that affords views across the surrounding sloping Wicklow fields where cattle peacefully graze. Key to the Dr Zeuss-like, eccentric and exotic looking planting in this part of the garden are several specimens of the spiny Aralia echinocaulis. This new to cultivation plant was discovered while on Jimi’s planthunting expedition to the Hubei province of China over a decade ago. Their distinctive silhouettes are now an integral part of the ambience of Hunting Brook.
This area of Hunting Brook garden is also home to many other strikingly handsome foliage plants- purple-leaved Ligularia Brittmarie Crawford, Rodgersias, Dryopteris wallichiana , the giant Chinese rhubarb, Rheum officinale, and Cryptomeria araucarioides - through which Jimi has intermingled different perennials and bulbs. Augmented in summer by a small but hardworking cast of flowering annuals, these give pointillist droplets of vivid, long-lasting seasonal colour. Amongst Jimi’s many favourites for spring colour are different species/varieties of primula collections, hellebore, Viola ‘Inverurie Beauty’, narcissus, and tulips, which are followed in summer by bobble-headed alliums, starry-flowered astrantias, plum coloured Lupinus 'Masterpiece', mounds of Geranium ‘Mount Venus’ and ribbons of magenta-flowered Geranium ‘Ann Thompson’.