leonie cornelius

Hi Pól, How are you? My name is Leonie Cornelius and I am a fellow Irish Independent Weekend Magazine columnist where I have had a weekly 'In Bloom this Week' article. I believe we are connected on twitter. I really enjoy your columns in the magazine every week. My own column is currently on hiatus due to advertisement reasons but should be back soon according to Leslie-Ann. In the meantime I am keeping myself busy with plenty of other work though like presenting the National Ploughing championships next week for RTE and lots of writing too. You can check out a bit of my previous and current work on my website http://leoniecornelius.com/category/writing/ I wanted to get in touch with you regarding an article I am writing about Rio de Janeiro, provisionally entitled 'Rio de Janeiro -The Green city'. I will be travelling over there in October and am aiming to write a detailed article about exploring the city from an urban garden perspective. From the Jardim Botanico, a stunning space at the heart of the city, to urban greening projects in the favelas I think Rio is a fascinating, and particularly green city to travel to. It's a city of great contrasts too and would make for a great story about how, despite having over 6 million inhabitants, the city is so lush in planting. My brother and his wife live in Rio and after my first visit last year I have wanted to go back and explore more of its many green areas. With the preparations for next years Olympics I think this article could be particularly relevant as well as interesting to the readers. I was wondering if you would be interested in me writing it for the travel section in the Independent? I have the bare bones of it written already but on my trip over am hoping to get lots of great shots of each area I will explore. Also, I will be fleshing out the story with many more details and can work to any word count you may need. I could forward you over an initial outline of how and what I will cover generally if you are interested. Have a look at some of the shots from last years trip which I took when I went over. (They were taken on an iphone so this years shots will be far better as I will be using a professional photographer over there). It does give a slight impression of the amazing flora that exists over there though they do it no justice. Let me know if this is something that interests you and I would be delighted to chat on the phone when it suits or send through my outline, Kind Regards, Leonie Leonie Cornelius Blume Design House +353877552159 leoniecornelius.com

Shady Gem

In late July every year, well planted borders everywhere are brimming over with colour and foliage. Having enjoyed masses of Spring bulb splendour and early summer Iris and Aquilegia, we come into a more substantial phase in the garden. In a symphony this phase would be called the crescendo, the time in a piece where everything comes to a dramatic climax.

I think many gardens have this feel in August and September. Before the plants start to develop seedheads for wildlife, there is one last explosion of colour and bloom. Sedums bloom in cushions of red and pink and yet green grasses have tall plumes of feathered foliage.

On a recent trip to the wonderful Birr castle, Lord Rosse, a true plantsman and collector, took us on a fascinating August tour of the many beautiful areas of the grounds. From borders exploding with late summer colour to many unique tree specimens, this garden really is beautifully planned, planted and maintained.

We studied the flowers and foliage of trees such as the exceptionally rare Carrierea calycina and photographed the worlds oldest Box hedges in the formal gardens. Here native Chilean plants grow happily next to Tazmanian specimens and all look as though they belong here. In Spring, the gardens of the estate are alive with special Birr Violet shrubs and a noted collection of Magnolias. At this time of the year however, the shady river walk is where you really want to be.

After crossing over Ireland’s oldest suspension bridge, Lord Rosse lead us through massive cushions of pale pink hydrangea to a more delicate and subtle variety of the shrub. The stunning Hydrangea aspera ‘Villosa’, or ‘Lacecap’ Hydrangea, he tells us, was a real favourite of his mother, Anne, Countess of Rosse and she planted many specimens throughout the demesne.

This variety is one of the more unusual ones and does so well in a shady spot such as this. These lovely loose shrubs have velvety soft deep green leaves and when in flower have beautiful tightly packed purple centres which are surrounded by the palest pink florets, which almost seem to glow in the light.

The Hydrangea plant has had a bit of a hard time in landscape design in the near past but has thankfully had a massive resurgence in the past few years. And no wonder, It’s notable thriving in shady spots and masses of showy flower mops mean that this plant is a trusty selection for any garden and from a design point of view can fit into both formal schemes as well as more loose country garden styles.

Interestingly the Villosa is one of the only Hydrangeas that have a reliable colour. You see, most Hydrangeas colour shading relies on the acid pigmentation for their blue hue, turning even the most striking blue specimen into a pink in normal soil.

I think Hydrangeas are incredibly rewarding and if you can get your hands on one of these specimens then it would really brighten up a shady spot in the garden. For a plant that is both subtle and yet truly captivating in flower and leaf, this shrub is a wonderful choice.

For more on Birr Castle go to the Birr Castle website

Photo By: colin gillen

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