An Irish Garden

Dubliner Helen Dillon's Magical Mix of Random Colors, Shapes

The grand canal

The grand canal, edged with silvery gray Kilkenny limestone, used to be a classic English lawn. Photos: Ketzel Levine, NPR News hide caption

itoggle caption Photos: Ketzel Levine, NPR News
The grand view

Down a flowering path as the shadows lengthen on a late Dublin afternoon. hide caption

itoggle caption

NPR's Ketzel Levine recently visited the grand garden of Helen Dillon, in Dublin, Ireland. On Morning Edition, she describes what she found. Levine shares some of her impressions of Dillon's color-filled world with npr.org:

"See how the colors glow?" asks Helen Dillon, as we stand in front of her pulsing blue perennial border. "I'd say it's the way the plants themselves look that make this an Irish garden."

Certainly the light in Ireland does astonishing things to the color of plants. The near-constant presence of clouds and the near-certain absence of sun make flower colors throb and beckon. It's the kind of light that turns a lowly pink cosmos into an achingly beautiful poem.

But the light needs something to play with and that's where Helen Dillon comes in. The woman is a conjurer, mixing plants, colors and shapes in seemingly random combinations, as if she waved a wand and said, "Go!"

Of course any gardener knows it doesn't just happen. As Dillon herself admits, "The whole method to this garden is to wait till it annoys you and then start again." Her tastes are always evolving, her plants combinations always changing.

It would appear, in Dillon's case, that there is nothing so restless as a contented gardener.

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