In Pictures: Secret garden in the heart of red-brick Dublin can be yours for €2.95m
64 Palmerston Road Rathmines, Dublin 6, €2.95m
The pretty planting in the front garden of 64 Palmerston Gardens is the first sign that there is a serious gardener in residence. Alliums, lavender, roses and maples of different varieties collaborate to create a soft purple haze of blooms against the lush greens. But this is just an appetiser. Cut through to the back garden and you're in a beautifully planned space, divided cleverly into a series of sitting areas shaded by huge sun parasols that, says owner Sylvia Harrison, has been the scene of "many a good party".
The path down the centre is gravelled and features a wrought-iron fire basket, while herbaceous borders of palm, acers, allium, olive and bay trees, box and bamboo run along the boundary walls and separate each outdoor 'room'.
It is stunning and full of surprises - there's a water feature that runs down a slab of mirrored glass and rows of metal buckets hung on the outside kitchen wall are home to an easy-to-access herb garden. Designed by well-known landscape architect David Ryan, it is also deceptively low-maintenance. "I love secret gardens," says Sylvia, "and I've tried to make it feel a bit like that."
It comes as no surprise then that the ground floor is centred around the garden, with the kitchen and reception rooms opening onto it through a series of folding doors. It is one of the changes that Sylvia, who works in international recruitment, has made to the house since she bought it in 2002 for roughly €1.9m.
No 64 had been totally refurbished by the previous owner, a builder/developer, and was in turnkey condition. "It had also been gutted and completely replastered," she says, "I just walked in, brought my bags and my bed and that was it."
The house runs to 279sqm over three storeys, with four bedrooms, one en suite, spread over two floors. A large family bathroom, with Jacuzzi bath and a walk-in airing cupboard, fills the top floor, while on the first floor return, there is a study that could be repurposed as a fifth bedroom or bathroom. It is decorated with flair, showcasing Sylvia's art collection against white walls and wide-plank floorboards stained black - a colour scheme that is continued throughout the house. "The older I get," says the owner, "the more minimalist I get."
Granite steps lead up to the main entrance hall with fine decorative cornicing and two interconnecting reception rooms, both with Georgian-style fireplaces and period features.
On the ground floor there is a separate entrance under the granite steps. The space under the steps is lined with granite and so naturally cool and here a wine cellar has been incorporated.
The hub of the house is the kitchen. "It had a very expensive kitchen, perhaps worth €80,000, when I bought it," says Sylvia, "but it was country-style and I replaced it. I also took out the kitchen island." Instead she installed a fire engine-red high gloss fitted kitchen and a dining table in place of the island.
"You can have your breakfast here, sit out, watch the garden during the day," she says. A large squishy sofa is set so she can soak up the view outdoors.
No 64 is on the market for €2.95m, with selling agent Peter Kenny of Knight Frank. The property next door at No 65, which was in flats, sold last July for €1.8m and Hadleigh, a semi-detached house at the Palmerston Park end of the street, is currently on the market asking €3.25m.
There is no doubt that property in the area is rising in price, but it still has some way to go before it reaches the boomtime figures of €6m plus.
Palmerston Road is close to Rathmines and Ranelagh village, home to many an upmarket restaurant, with a wealth of private schools such as Rathgar Junior School, Sandford Park and Gonzaga College as well as two Gaelscoileanna, all within walking distance. The Luas is around the corner on chi-chi Dunville Avenue where the new owner will also find upmarket supermarket Mortons.
"I'll miss the garden and the kitchen," says Sylvia, but her two daughters are grown up and she is now "semi-retiring" and downsizing.
But she has big plans. She is off to the country to devote more time to painting, photography - and of course more gardening.
Agent: Knight Frank (01) 237 4526
Viewing: By appointment