When the first guests arrived at Harvey’s Point in March 1989, it was really a building site set in a swampy but stunning location on the shores of Lough Eske. I have fond memories of that time when Mammy McGlone and Jody would head off for the day to buy shrubs and plants for the newly opened hotel. As the years passed, the gardens took shape and colour, especially when Jody and Marc’s sister Gaby arrived from Switzerland. Gaby brought an amazing energy to the ‘gardening team’ of that time, a team that consisted of two easy going, charming old famers called ‘The Love Brothers’. Used to working at their own pace and always having time to lean on the spade and have a good chat with anyone passing by, they were real Irish characters who have sadly since passed away. Later on, we were joined by Tony Waugh, an English gardener living locally. Tony planted most of the climbing plants around the hotel as well as establishing the rose beds. Other family members who have played their part in making Harvey’s Garden special are Renate, wife of Jody and my sister Eilis.
In the past 9 years, Pat Murphy has been at the helm of the gardens of Harvey’s Point. Bringing with him his years of experience in horticulture, Pat manages to keep our gardens well-maintained and constantly developing. He does this on a fairly tight budget and without an army of gardeners.
Pat is always happy to share his passion for and knowledge of gardening and enjoys the interaction with guests on a daily basis, whether it is with people who just like what they see or the keen gardener who enjoys a chat about the glory of gardens, so I thought it would be a good idea to invite him to help me write this blog.
Here is a snapshot of our chat.
How would you describe Harvey’s Garden?
“The gardens are not too formal but are designed to be in keeping with the natural beauty of our magical location. It is a blend between structured topiary and cottage garden colour. We are blessed to have so many mature trees around us with the theatrical backdrop of lake and mountains”. It has been described as a “Gardeners Garden” as I strive to keep a balance between utility planting and planting something a little different to catch the eye”.
What is your favourite time of year?
“I love springtime, when seeds have germinated and transplanting begins, we grow on thousands of seedlings and I take great pride in planting out beds and borders with “homegrown”plants”.
What challenges do you experience?
“The soil around the hotel is fairly diverse with deep, poorly drained peaty soils and shallow boulder clay over limestone along with fairly decent pockets of topsoil lain over concrete or builders rubble! The lake shore is exposed to the prevailing south westerly winds whilst the front of the hotel in north facing and is in deep shade.
Like all gardens, we are influenced by the weather to a large extent. For example, this year our hanging baskets and window boxes were up to 3 weeks late going out due to an exceptionally cold Spring”.
Do you follow trends in gardening?
“Not really. I prefer to see our gardens interacting with their magnificent setting and providing an ever changing spectacle around the year, rather than following ‘what’s hot in Chelsea’! However, it seems that we set the trend at Harvey’s Point as lupins have been the mainstay of our herbaceous borders over the past few years and they are an “in “plant at Chelsea this year”
What is your Vision for Harvey’s Garden?
“My long term goal is to continue to create new and beautiful areas around the grounds for people to enjoy during their time at the hotel. We would love to designate an area of the grounds for planting trees for guests who want to mark a special occasion or in memory of a loved one. Guests would receive a certificate with records about the species and location of the tree”. We also hope to include a tour of the gardens as part of our special Midweek Breaks”.
Join us in the Autumn for the next “Harvey’s Garden” Blog.
The Gardens at Harvey’s Point – Gallery
Gardens in Donegal