Originally Wren’s Wood was part of the Dunran Demesne. A deciduous woodland with holly tree’s ferns and large rocks left by the last ice age. It’s a captivating place; stand on the Grandstand and you’ll look out at the Irish sea. On a clear day Wales and Snowdonia may be visible. Look inland and there is Dunran Hill, 1000 feet above sea level. Landscape Architects will refer to this as “borrowed landscape”.
Lydia Mattei was enthusiastic about taking on this garden from the mid 70’s; a large garden with plenty of challenges. The previous owners had set out a scree garden beside the house. Formal hedging of Yew and Box was already in place. Azaleas, Veronicas, Escallonias, Junipers, Crinodendron, Osmanthus, Cordyline, Sorbus, Cotinus, Juglans and perhaps most interesting of all Neopanax laetus.
Exisiting pathways lead through the woodland, connecting with the wild meadow below, the two streams meet at this point. A section of this field was cleared to grow vegetables and soft fruit. The Bramleys apple trees, covered in lichens and moss, remain. Chickens, Ducks and Guinea Fowl were reared, grazing Horses, a Donkey and until a few years ago some Highland Cattle were part of the scene. The lower track leads to a slope of ancient oak trees, some of which are almost 6 metres girth. Oaks cast dappled light in the summertime. This is a good place to see Red Squirrels!
From 1990 plans were underfoot to take the garden to a new level. Lydia’s son Alexander returned and the began its transformation. Much work was needed to restore the exsiting drystone walls. The Ring Fort known as Kiltimon Rath, is an Eartan Monument measuring 150ft x 100ft diameter. Most Raths were built between the 5th & 11th Centuries. In spring time bluebells cover the woodland floor, where Prunus Avium blossom above.
A woodland glade was turned into a large lawn. A practical solution was needed to use up the piles of rocks & stones, so terraces were built. This has given the garden architecture, viewing platforms which are wildlife – friendly. The 39 steps were set into the steep slope leading down to the Millenium pond. Dicksonia antartica, Davidia involucrate, Cydonia oblonga, Magnolia x soulangiana, Purnus padus were planted in this area.
The garden was opened to the public in 1999 and has been opened again every year during the summer months. The owners are passionate about gardening and won prizes in the Shamrock All-Ireland Garden competitions of 1999 & 2000.
Great spotted Woodpeckers have moved in over the past three years, they come to the peanut feeders and bird table.