Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons is just as at home in the garden as on the screen and stage. He finds it grounds him, recalling getting back into the garden after filming one morning in May where the ‘perfumes’ and ‘peace of it’ were like a ‘salve.’
Jeremy and his wife, actress Sinéad Cusak have a beautiful garden to tend at their Regency home in Watlington, Oxfordshire. It’s classically English in style with abundant roses cladding the walls, formal hedging and box balls. There are various garden ‘rooms’ which developed organically, he said, including a sunken garden with a pond and fountain, a parterre with herbs, a beautiful old orchard and well used vegetable patch. Freshly-picked sweetcorn is a favourite. ‘Sinéad puts the water on, cuts the sweetcorn, runs back and puts them in so they’re absolutely delicious,’ he said in an interview with Gardeners’ Question Time.
Within the formal layout, the planting is relaxed, with borders billowing with perennials such as soft blue nepeta, Campanula lactiflora, astrantia, sedum, crocosmia and acanthus. Hydrangeas do well in the garden and the borders are punctuated by the large grass Stipa gigantea. There are yuccas either side of a wrought iron garden gate.
Jeremy gardens when he can. ‘I do like activity, things to do. I’m a good weeder, I like to weed. I’m a Virgo, so I think we like things relatively tidy but the garden’s big enough to never be too manicured,’ he said. A relaxed order seems to be the aim for him and he’s keen on plants such as Erigeron karvinskianus that self-seed everywhere. The couple also have a house in Ireland on the edge of the sea where it’s all about using plants to provide a buffer from the wind, as well as a tiny worker’s cottage in Dublin. ‘Whenever we go back there, I garden,’ he said.
And Jeremy’s a great believer in the right plant, the right place. ‘Someone asked me why we don’t go to America. My roots are here…if something’s doing well in a certain spot you don’t move it…hence I stayed in England!’