The Garden of George and Rose Sevastopulo
By Pauline Gavin
Since 1977 George and Rose have lived on their sloping, ten by thirty metre sandy site in Howth. At first, it had only soft fruits, but over the years these have been replaced by herbaceous planting and alpines. Nothing of the original garden remains, and I’m sure the previous owners would be pleased at the result.
Did the garden come about by design or did it evolve naturally?
It’s been changing all the time. We had to dig out the patio from the original slope. The slope came all the way down to the back door. We dug that out and terraced the rest of the slope with quartzite from Howth Summit. The back garden is on the south. Our soil is neutral, but this is not the original soil. Its pure sand under the soil put down by the builders, and we’ve added to it with manure and hops.
It’s very lush now. Is it always so green?
No. It’s bare in winter. The year starts in October with bulbs and autumn flowering cyclamen hederifolium. November is the deadest month. In late December the snowdrops start. We have lots of snowdrops and other bulbs for early colour. We make year round colour with bulbs in terracotta pots which we lift and dry over summer.
Have you any plant recommendations for year round colour?
Besides the bulbs we have an acer aureum with bright yellow leaves throughout summer and red in autumn. Rosa nutabilis is great; it blooms almost all year with red buds and apricot flowers.
There’s a lot going on here. These are the babies.
Yes, we sow seedlings into small plastic pots and use recycled supermarket containers as covers. We like to use terracotta pots as they keep the plants cool; the moisture evaporates from the side of the pots.
We’ve gathered pipes and odd shaped pots over the years. In the urn is dianthus Valda ‘Wyatt’
Have you any stubborn pests or weeds you’d love to be rid of?
There is a great big fuchsia at the end of the garden. It’s a vigorous bully. We have a viola which self seeds without flowering, a white geranium and an oxalis with yellow flowers. Besides that there are brambles and sycamore.
This is a lovely combination here. Who all have you growing in this area?
Furthest left is cytisus battandieri with the yellow flowers; its not like other brooms. Then the famous rosa nutabilis in the middle. The golden privet to the right of the rose is actually next door and not a part of this garden. Beneath the rose and the privet is phormium Platt’s Black and Geranium x magnificum. The seed heads are of Bowles’ Golden Grass.
It all looks very natural and unplanned. Have you any plants self seeding or sprouting in places they are welcome?
We have lots of silver saxifrage. It’s easy to grow.
And what about wildlife? Who else lives here?
We have a compliment of small birds, sea gulls, tits and sparrows, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, finches. We feed and have a bird bath. There’s usually something nesting somewhere. Robins are nesting above the back door. We also have hedgehogs and frogs occasionally.
Is this a high maintenance garden?
The soil was very sandy to start with. We’ve added compost and hops over the years. We make a large amount of compost. The compost bins are well hidden behind the shrubs.
Jasminum nudiflorum needs to be pruned every year and the irrigation system needs maintainance too. We have alpine troughs and pots. This one is made using New Zealand plants growing on greywacke rock which is found in the southern Alps in New Zealand. Pimelea prostrata is the plant on the bottom right. In the centre is Celmisia ramulosa hybrid and the silvery white plant to the left of it is a Raoulia hybrid.
Here we have the same plants in a trough. Behind the trough on the left is Erigeron karvinskianus.
It is a slipper orchid. I bought it, as Cypripedium guttatum, at Binnies Nursery in Scotland in 2009, but it is much whiter than typical guttatum, which is a plant of peat bogs and damp ground with a circum arctic distribution.