Thirty years ago Malaysian nurse Pauline Manders, and her Irish husband Barrie, discovered Silverstream; a silent oasis on Ballywaltrim Lane in Bray. "From the road, all I could see was a window and a tree," says Pauline, "but as soon as I saw the gardens I thought – I have found my own little Mount Usher. "
Indeed, it is the informal planting on the sloping terraces that makes Silverstream a special property. Set over two acres, the gardens blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, and gently roll down to a stream which feeds into the river Dargle.
From the roadside exterior, the property dating from the 1940s, appears to be a modest bungalow, but is actually a 173sq m split-level house set over three floors, with the main living area upstairs to maximise views of the Sugar Loaf.
The gardens were initially developed by a previous owner, and Pauline, who admits to not having any gardening knowledge at the time of purchase, set about completing the wild and natural planting.
“As a lover of art, the gardens became my canvas and the secateurs my paintbrush,” she says. “The names of the plants were unimportant to me, I just loved the organic feel and timelessness of it all.”
The steepness of the site meant tractors and diggers could not access the gardens so most of the work was done by hand. The plantings include a striking Catalpa with its white tulip-shaped blossoms, many Acers and specimen Gunnera all set on carpets of bluebells.
The four-bedroom house, has simple interiors with many picture windows. The Manders painted all the internal walls in off whites, allowing the colours to come from the gardens.
An old 19th-century cottage lies in what was an orchard, it is currently used as a shed and has development potential subject to planning.
While a house can be erected in a matter of months, mature gardens take decades to develop. The result at Silverstream can only be described as enchanting. Through Beirne & Wise asking €850,000.