Garden Design Online

25 Mar 2020

We can design a garden for you without the need to visit your garden. In the current partial lockdown due to the Coronavirus, you could use this time to start planning your ideal garden. Give us a call, text or email to start the process for your garden. We recently completed such a project for a garden in Co Kerry and as we are located in Co Wicklow visiting the garden was not an option. The clients sent us photos and videos of the garden on email, to show us the current state of the garden. They also completed our customised Garden Design Questionaire and took all the measurements themselves. Once we had a garden design proposal ready we emailed them lots of images of the proposal and then discussed it over the phone to agree the final proposal. They were very happy with the final garden design plan and we look forward to recieving photos of the completed garden.

Natural Garden Design

15 Aug 2019

This garden design is located quite close to the centre of the town of Bray in Co Wicklow. That may be difficult to believe as the garden is not overlooked and does not at first appear to be set in the middle of a busy town centre. The garden was an unusual shape with high walls on a number of sides and we used soft curving lines to soften the shape of the garden and the hard edges of the walls. Natural granite walls were built along two side of the garden to create raised beds which reduced the visual height of some of the walls. The granite walling stone was complimented by granite paving and cobbles which created the curves around the garden edging the lawn and paving. Lovely curvaceous lawn and stepping stone path A lovely curvaceous lawn was set off by a surrounding natural granite walls and traversed by a stepping stone path leading through the garden. The granite wall allows the creation of a semi-circular raised pond adjacent to it with a small waterfall cascading into Granite rock wall with semi circular raised pond and cascadethe pond from a spill stone set in the granite wall behind. A granite patio is set into the corner of the house which is finished at the edges in a soft curving lines of complimentary granite Patio overlooking the Gardencobbles. These granite cobbles are also used in randomly placed squares of cobbles throughout the patio to enhance the natural appearance. Borders filled with flowering plants wrap around the other sides of the garden. On maturity all the planting will create an enclosed lush and very private oasis in the middle of a busy town. Curvaceous Lawn Beautifully designed by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Davidstown Landscaping.

Kilruddery House & Garden

2 Aug 2019

I had the opportunity to visit the Kilruddery House & Garden yesterday evening and get a guided tour of the gardens. It was a really beautiful evening which after the rain earlier in the day was a bit of a surprise. This is really a hidden gem which is unexpectedly close to Dublin and it is amazing that it is not more widely know and overwhelmed by visitors. The gardens were originally designed in the 17th century and have had additions in the subsequent two centuries. They have many beautiful areas to explore and admire including the most spectacular Long Ponds which are twin canals 187 meters long! There is a formal sunken garden with a fountain in the centre beside which is a tea room. A giant Beech hedge encloses another much larger circular pond which is encompassed by a number of statues and provides some lovely vistas from its focal points. The Angles is another area consisting of a number of walks laid out at angles flanked by hornbeam, lime and beech. This is just a sample, there is many other features to the garden to see and enjoy. I would therefore recommend a visit before it becomes too well known and busy!

Garden Design for a Small Garden

12 Jun 2019

This garden was completed earlier this year in a new development in the coastal town of Greystones. The house was already finished with a generous paved area adjacent to the back of the house which stepped up into a lawn via wooden sleepers. However, the boundary lines were finished in a mix of fencing and a wire mesh structure designed to hold back the ground as the entire estate was built on a significant slope. The boundaries were the most difficult aspect of this design as they were not attractive and some means of camouflaging them was required to provide an attractive backdrop to the new garden design. We decided to work with the existing hard landscaping of the garden and created a new semi-circular lawn with a stepping stone path leading to a new circular patio offset into the top corner of the garden. The stepping stones and patio were finished in black limestone to compliment the existing black edging stone around the paving adjacent to the house. A grey limestone wall was built behind the circular patio running along the rear of the garden. The wall was Garden Before new Garden Designdesigned to take some of the visual height off the rear boundary and finishes in a higher section of wall set at an angle in the far corner where a mirror was mounted to add interest and reflect views of the garden. The wire mesh boundaries were planted with various alpine and trailing plants designed to cascade down the wall and eventually colonize the mesh structure so that it will be smothered in flowers and greenery and will become invisible. To help integrate the new garden design with the existing patio, we worked with the wooden sleepers to create some new staggered and layered sleeper beds on both sides which both interjected into the existing patio and the new garden at the lawn level thereby pulling both together. Finally, to add the finishing touch a self contained water feature was placed in the lower of the sleeper beds nearest the existing paving so that the sound of water could be enjoyed within the garden. This garden was beautifully designed and planted by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Think Outside.

Moroccan Garden Design

26 Feb 2019

It is wonderful to see gardens in other countries when we travel. The differing cultures and climates means gardens of many different styles often with exotic plants which we would not see in our own country. As we have to take our holidays in the winter, travelling further south is required to get better weather. As a result, this year we went to Morocco. We stayed in Marrakech, which is renowned for its beautiful gardens which are often mini oases filled with fountains and beautifully cared for gardens, symbols of paradise. The most famous of which must be Jardin Marjorelle which is very beautiful and filled with lovely fountains, and well maintained plantings of Palms, Bamboo's and Cactus. It is also famous for its use of colour in the garden, particularly the Marjorelle Blue, which is very striking particularly in the strong summer light which creates a wonderful contrast of light and shade. For me, however, it was a bit too busy. I can't image what it would be like during the busy season! My most favourite garden would have to be Le Jardin Secret, which is difficult to find as it is tucked away in the back of the Medina, amidst the Souks. However, it is well worth the effort as it is a haven of peace and tranquility within a very busy part of the town. The garden is divided into two distinct and very different gardens, the Islamic Garden and the Exotic Garden. The style and planting of both are both very different with the Exotic garden featuring plants from many exotic locations in the world laid out in a seemingly random rectangular pattern. Whereas the Islamic garden is laid out in a geometric pattern with a central Gazebo and rill running through the middle with mini fountains in each of the quadrants. The planting is very simple with Olive Trees, Rosemary hedges, Lavender and ornamental grasses. The effect is amazingly soothing and I could have sat there all day. The last garden we visited, Anima, was located outside Marrakech, approximately 45min drive towards the Altlas mountains. However, it is well worth the journey. It is laid out with a serious of paths crossing through well tended plantings of varying styles and amazing garden features set against the snow capped tops of the Atlas mountains. The Features are so colourful, the effect is startling which is particularly good with the strong blue sky of Morocco.

Garden Design By the Sea

11 Apr 2018

This garden design was completed for a garden in the lovely seaside town of Greystones, Co Wicklow. The house was a new build situated right in the centre of the town so space was at a premium and the house was positioned central within the site with the gardens wrapping around all sides. A generous parking area was allowed at the front of the house with the parking area finished in permeable paving complimented by granite cobbles edging the flower beds running alongside the house and granite steps at the entrance. The large patio to the rear of the house was finished in porcelain tiles to compliment the interior decor offset by decorative gravel and raised borders finished in quartz walling stone. A natural water feature was built into one corner over two levels backed up by tropical style planting including tree ferns and bamboo's. Two lawns softened the hard landscaping, one at each side of the garden which were backed up by quartz finished raised borders running around the perimeter filled with attractive trees and shrubs. Some level changes had to be incorporated into the design due to the level changes across the site and within the house which worked out well. This garden was beautifully designed by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Exhibition Landscapes.

The Great Entertainers Garden Design

14 Nov 2017

This is the ideal garden design for anyone that loves to entertain. If features a wonderful integrated BBQ for al fresco cooking adjacent Outdoor Fireplaceto a beautiful outdoor fireplace for keeping warm on summers evenings after the sun has set. Built in seating surrounds this part of the garden design so that the cook can have company whilst the guests bask in tDeck with Jacuzzihe heat of the fireplace. The upper deck is spacious with room for lounging furniture beside a built in jacuzzi. The deck is surrounded by frame less glass balustrading which blocks any winds but allows the lovely views down to the sea to still be admired while enjoying a dip in the jacuzzi. The upper level of the garden design is finished in grey composite Built in Seatingdecking which connects directly into the main living areas of this period house and is contrasted with the lower level which is finsihed in grey granite complemented by a gorgeous purple shade to finish the hard landscaping. This wonderful garden design was created as an addition to an existing garden to more seemlessly connect the house to the garden Jacuzzi and Deckand to draw you out to enjoy the garden itself and the views beyond. A small water feature positioned in the alcove of the house, surrounded by a few select plants, added just the right finishing touch to this amazing garden design. Finally, to cap it Water Feature and Stepsall, mood LED strip lighting is fitted at the base of the glass balustrading and under the overhangs of the BBQ, the seats and the steps creating a wonderful atmosphere at night. This garden was beautifully designed by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Exhibition Landscapes

Modern Garden Design for a small Garden

31 Jul 2017

This very structured contemporary Garden Design uses straight lines and modern sharp materials to produce a gorgeous Garden Design for a young couple in their first home. The garden is located in a new housing development, near Greystones, in north County Wicklow and was just completed recently. The main paving material used in this garden design is gorgeous oatmeal Three Box Balls in Pots in A Rowgranite which both finishes the patio adjacent to the house where a dining table is situated and the patio at the end of the garden where built in seating has been provided. The garden design features a rectangular central lawn surrounded by a wide border of oatmeal granite paving to edge the lawn and a stepping stone path to the end patio. Wide borders of flowering plants flank each side of the lawn. A slight rise in the ground level of the garden has been used to create two bullnosed steps within the Built in Garden Seatgarden to give interest, one up to the lawn nearest the house and one upto the patio from the lawn at the end of the garden. Raised beds positioned at opposite corners give some additional height to the garden. They are finished in plastered walls and are capped in granite to compliment the patio's. A free standing wall screening a garden shed at the end of the garden provids a backdrop for three pots in a row filled with box balls. Finally, in order to ensure that the garden has a good backdrop, the rear wall has been plastered and painted dark grey to compliment the window finishes of the house itself. Beautifully designed and planted by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by DJ Landscapes, Save

Small Contemporary Garden Design

4 May 2017

This Garden Design transformed a boring unused rectangular garden,Small Contemporary Garden Design mostly finished in grass, into an attractive contemporary garden which the owner is just dying to sit out in and enjoy. The design is based on inter locking rectangular spaces with two lawns interconnected but separated by a row of cobbles. Travertine is the main paving material used in this garden design, together with portuguese granite cobbles. Small Contemporary Garden DesignThe path adjacent to the house is finished in travertine paving together with a small patio, surrounded by low growing plants, in the west facing corner of the garden. A set of stepping stones, which are a feature in themselves, lead through the lawn down the garden to the shed, which is neatly hidden behind a free-standing wall built to its fore. This wall, together with the rear wall have been plastered and painted an off white colour which will be lit up in the evenings with lights from below to give a very attractive view from the house. Three pots filled with black Phormiums, to match the fences and Pergola, have been positioned to the fore of the free-standing wall, creating a beautiful feature within the garden which is viewable from the windows of the house. A pergola has been built adjacent to the fence nearer the end of the garden on the same side as the patio, which is used to suspend two cocoon style rattan seats to provide a lovely space to relax in and enjoy the garden. Borders have been created around the perimeter of the garden finished in minimalistic contemporary style plantings and surrounded by a decorative gravel mulch to help reduce maintenance. The fences on both sides of the garden have been painted a dark grey shade to provide a good backdrop to the garden and help the boundaries of the garden recede into the background. The pergola has also been painted in the same dark grey to provide a contemporary finish to its design and contrast with wth off white walls. The owner of this garden is very happy with her garden and is looking forward to the summer enjoying being outside. She said: "My garden is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful consulting, design, horticulture expertise, support and advise you gave me on totally reinventing my garden. You have done an amazing job, and put so much time into understanding what design and planting would work for me and I am delighted with the tailored end result. It has been a wonderful experience working with you.........Brenda"

Contemporary Garden Design

10 Jan 2017

This contemporary garden design for a back garden was developed for a family living in a newly built large detached house in an urban area of Co Wicklow, Ireland. The house itself was very modern with large living areas overlooking the garden and the family wanted to be able to enjoy the garden design when viewed from both within the house and when outside. They wanted a garden design which complimented the house and which enticed them outside to enjoy. The garden design makes use of all areas of the garden by developing a patio Patio & Covered BBQadjacent to the house to be enjoyed in the early part of the day and also a sunken patio in the far corner where the setting sun can be enjoyed in the latter part of the day to be used for evening dining. The patio's are finished in tumbled yellow limestone which blends with the brick in the house wonderfully and is both contemporary but warm. The patio adjacent to the house links to garden paths which wrap around the back of the house and link to a path to a shed in the far corner of the garden which is screened by a very attractive cedar lath fence complimented by bamboo's. Sunken PatioA dedicated space was allowed for a BBQ on the patio nearest the house set adjacent to the boundary, which is to be covered with a modern contemporary style pergola to match a similar design surrounding the sunken patio. Raised borders finished in clean rendered off white walls surround the BBQ and the sunken patio to add to the contemporary style of the garden design and to add interest by introducing changes in level. A water feature set against a stone clad wall and L-shaped raised bed atWater Feature & Fire Pit the end of the garden, together with a fire pit to the fore and built in garden seating provides a wonderful vista to be enjoyed from both within the garden and when viewed from the main living spaces of the house. To break up the lawn and allow access to the features at the end of the garden, a stepping stone garden path was built across the rectangular lawn linking all areas of the garden to complete the design.

Contemporary Garden Design

7 Dec 2016

Sometimes simplicity is the best approach to Garden Design. There is always the temptation to try to add in too much, which does not always give the best result. This is particularly true for Contemporary garden design, which is often minimal with clean sharp lines and structured planting. In this garden just outside Dublin in Ratoath, the house was been extended Simplicity in Garden Designand took over most of the previous garden, leaving a garden which was not very deep but still had good width. The new extention to the house had windows to the rear overlooking the garden across most of its width, leaving a garden which was going to be on View from main living areacomplete view from the main living areas of the house all year around. The clients wanted a garden which was an extension of their home which would look good all year around and which included a lounging area, a lawn and a children's play area. We designed a very structured contemporary garden based on simple rectangular shapes for them which flowed seemlessly from the house. It features a patio area at the sunniest end of the garden for Children's Play Space finished in Brown Rubber Mulchlounging and dining finished in gorgeous egyptian limestone to give a clean sharp look. A rectanglar lawn was created adjacent to the patio which was also surrounded by a border of limestone to give a clean edge and to create an attractive feature in itself to be admired from the house. The border of limestone continues adjacent to the house blending into a path runnning along the side of the house creating a pattern of rectangular shapes within the garden. A raised border and adjacent wall at right angles in the corner of the patio created an attractive backdrop for the lounging / dining set. The clients wanted to keep as many of the mature trees / shrubs at the end of the garden as possible for screening, so a long narrow border was created along the rear of the garden. Additional screening was also provided by adding some height to the top of the wall with cedar laths running horizontally, which together with rendering the concrete block wall provides a lovely back drop to the whole garden. Two spaces have been left along the back boundary of the garden for the positioning of some garden sculpture at a later date. Finally, a children's play space was created at the other end of the garden which was finished in brown rubber mulch. This gives a lovely natural finish to this area and an appearance very similar to bark mulch. The plan for this area in the long term when the children are grown is convert this space into another complimentary lawn.

Garden Design on a Slope

10 Aug 2016

A sloped garden may at first appear to be a difficult situation, however, slopes when taken advantage of in a Garden Design can create possibilities and great interest. They are challenging but force you to create designs which exploit them to build features into a garden which may otherwise not have been possible. It is difficult to use areas in a garden which are sloped so for patio's and other areas which require a flat surface terracing is the only option. In this garden, constructed this year in Dalkey, Co Dublin, the slope was significant creating a very challenging garden to both design and construct. The house itself was upside down, with the living space on the 1st floor, which due to the slope had direct access to the rear garden via a balcony and patio finished in lovely warm, yellow limestone. The garden was divided into three levels, seperated by donegal quartz curving stone walls which supported each level and connected by a set of steps up one side of the garden which were also finished in yellow limestone, beautifully complimenting the quartz stone. Even with the three retaining walls, the lawns were still sloped slightly to take up some more of the difference in levels. A number of other features were added to the garden to create further interest including a pergola to span the steps mid way up and a recessed seat set into the highest of the walls to create a lovely feature at this level. Coupled with gorgeous planting, there is no doubt that as a result of these challenges, a very beautiful garden was created which will give years of enjoyement to the new owners.

Brick Garden Design

1 Jun 2016

Using traditional bricks in a garden design gives a lovely warm finish which works very well in lots of settings, from built up urban areas to larger traditional country gardens. We designed this garden which was completed recently in the Crumlin area of Dublin. The owners were keen gardeners but their existing garden was a garden of filled with Brick Garden Designpots of flowering plants. They wanted to build a new garden with lots of room for plants which was not only warm and inviting but functional as well, so that they could enjoy their hobby of gardening. So, we gave them lots of raised borders for plants and also an outdoor sink for washing those pots and space for a greenhouse. They wanted to use bricks on the walls and ground. However, using traditional bricks on the ground is not recommended by the brick manufacutures as water lying on the ground can cause damage to the bricks over time. So, we choose a lovely brick for the walls and then matched it with a paving block suitable for the ground. It worked reallly well and the owners are very happy with their new garden which arrived just in time for the summer!

Plants which look their best in Winter!

1 Mar 2016

Winter is a quite time in the garden and a lot of people would not think that there are many plants worth looking at during this time of the year. However, there are some plants which look their best during the winter and if you want to have a garden with all year around interest then you should Birch under planted with Cornus 'Midwinter Fire'consider adding some of these to your garden. I visited recently the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, UK which it claims has the largest winter garden in Europe. It has been designed to display attractively plants which are at Hamamelistheir best between November and March. This is the time of the year where form and texture in the garden can be most appreciated and evergreen plants are essential to maintain a backbone. Plants which have beautifully coloured bark, like Cornus (Dogwood) and Betula (Birch) can be set off attractively Heathersagainst a carpet of evergreen low growing foliage. One of the best flowering perennials for the winter is Helleborus (Hellebores) and in a winter garden you cannot be without at least one of these, however, they come in many colours and if you have space a large swath of Hellebores in winter Snowdropsis a wonderful sight. Shrubs which flower in the winter include Hamamelis, Daphe, Viburunum and Sarcocca. Some of these have wonderful scent which is best appreciated if they are planted adjacent to a path. Bulbs are essential in late winter including Snowdrops Evergreen Winter Borderand Cyclamen which are wonderful under planting mature deciduous trees where little else will grow. Heathers are a plant which some people do not like, however, they are evergreen, flower in winter, are available in lots of colours and when planted in mass can produce great structure and colour in the garden A sea of Cyclamen and Snowdropsin winter. Come late winter some of the best flowering shrubs are at their best, including Camelia's, some Magnolias and Rhododendrons. Every garden should have at least a few plants which are planted for winter interest, however, make sure you plant them where you can see them in the winter. Do not plant them at the end of the garden, as you won't venture that far when the weather is not good. Plant them, near the house, maybe in the front garden, where they can be appreciated when they are at their best.

Contemporary Garden Design with 'Wow' Factor!

11 Jan 2016

The Client for whom this garden was designed for, wanted a garden with the 'Wow' factor. She didn't just want a patio but wanted something out of the ordinary which stood out from the crowd. She wanted to use the best materials to make something special of her garden. It was a really beautiful large house and garden in a lovelyWalls with openings around raised patio area with wonderful views out to the sea but the garden, neither front nor back did it justice. The existing garden was filled with old fashioned island beds set in lawns with sandstone patios surrounded by mixed hedges. They did nothing to enhance or compliment this lovey house. Deck Connecting PathwayThe garden design created a contemporary outdoor living space, extending the house out into the garden with with dedicated areas for lounging, dining and relaxing. The garden design used Egyptian limestone to create a design of sharp lines with seperate areas linked together with varying materials to produce a wonderful compliment to the house whilst at the same time taking advantage of the natural setting by opening up and enhancing the views beyond. The planting was structured in line with the overall design wtih large blocks of the same plant repeated throughout the design. The design divided the patio into three main areas, the first directly Raised Bedadjacent to the sun room of the house for lounging which then drops down into another patio surrounded by an L shaped low wall, positioned to allow wonderful views out to the sea. An insert of decking in this patio compliments another patio linked to the first by a pathway of decking. This patio is raised slightly and surrounded by two walls at right angles creating an enclosed dining area, with openings in the walls allowing views of the garden beyond. The planting in this garden design needs to mature to compliment the hard landscaping but even without the full effect of the planting the patio already has the 'Wow' factor that was requested.

Enclosed Contemporary Patio in a Large Garden

27 Oct 2015

Gardens near the sea or in open rural locations can sometimes be quite exposed to winds, making it difficult to enjoy the garden. These gardens often have lovely views of the countryside and it is such a shame that their owners cannot enjoy their gardens and the surrounding views more. One solution to the problem is to try to cut out the wind and create enclosed Patio surrounded on two sides by wallsareas where the garden can be enjoyed out of the wind. In the long term tree screening can prove very effective, however, trees can take some time to grow and not every one wants to wait a few years to be able to enjoy their garden. An alternative approach is to create an enclosed area adjacent to the main living areas of the house surrounded by some type of wind barrier. Enclosted Contemporary Patio In this garden we created an enclosed patio surrounded by walls on two sides which still allowed a vista of the best view out to the sea. The walls were softened by adjacent raised borders finished with chunky granite capping and beautiful planting. The walls were also broken along there lengths by sections of stone panels to add interest. Water Wall A sunken L shaped sitting area was created in the corner to further decrease the wind providing a wonderfully snug place to enjoy a morning coffee or evening glass of wine! The patio was finished in grey granite but was broken by a rectangle of decking in the centre to accentuate an outdoor dining area. Sunken Lounging AreaTo add that something special to the design a water feature was built against the wall directly opposite the main living area of the house. The feature was made using a water blade which creates a perfect sheet of water cascading from one of the rock panels into a rectanglur pond below. To finish the design and further soften the surrounding wall, an espalied Stone Panelshedge was planted behind the wall. This is basically a hedge on stilts which has a branched structure starting about 1.8m from the ground. It therefore rises above the wall and provides further wind resistance but in a softer manner and should the reduce wind Garden Before turbulance created by the wall itself.

Growing Your Own

2 Sep 2015

My daily crop! I am very pleased this year with the veg tables I am growing in my Greenhouse, particularly so with the peppers. I normally grow Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers and Courgettes. They have all done well this year but I think I have finally cracked it with the Peppers, producing peppers as good as you would get in the store. The tomatoes were a bit late to ripen and the cucumbers are still quite small, although delicious. Apart from planting in good compost with plenty of organic matter, plus regular liquid feeds I believe the secret is regular watering. This year i have an automatic watering system, so I am not running out to water them every day. The only daily problem I now have to address is making sure that the green house is ventilated, particularly on warm or sunny days.

Cherry Blossom

6 May 2015

I love Cherry Blossom trees but i have heard some complaints over the years about the cherry blossom petals and the difficulties they cause. I never really understood the problem as surely the beauty of these trees would surpass any inconvenience they cause once a year. Some clients of mine have said that they wouldn't even consider a Cherry Blossom tree in White Cherry Blossom Treetheir garden because of this. However, I recently came across this garden and parked car in a south dublin estate which was absolutely covered in the petals. The sight stopped me in my tracks and I just had to take a photo. I had never seen a garden so covered in the blossom. I was left wondering how come I never saw such a sight before? Maybe some Cherry Trees have more blossom than others? Maybe, I was always so transfixed by the beauty of the tree itself I never saw the blossom on the ground? I did then have to reconsider my previous opinion and I now understand the problem. However, I still think that the beauty of the tree is worth it, in fact it even has a beauty of its own, covering the ground in such a lovely carpet of pink blossom!

What to do in the garden in Winter

15 Jan 2015

It is easy to think that as the garden is dormant in winter there is not much to do. However, there is a number of jobs in the garden which are better done in winter. So, when the weather is bright and dry, get out there and get a few of these jobs done. It will be good for both you and the garden. 1) Planting - Some plants, including a lot of trees and hedges, are available bare rooted in winter. These plants are generally cheaper than their potted versions available at other times of the year and are also easier to plant as there root systems are not as bulky as when in pots. So if you need to plant a hedge or some trees do it now before spring starts. 2) Rose Pruning - There is always some debate as to when to prune Roses, some say November and others late winter or early spring. I like to do mine in February. I find that if you leave it too late, the buds are already breaking and cutting them off seems cruel. 3) Tidying / Cleaning - After last years busy gardening season, there is always work to be done in tidying up those sheds and garages. Sort out the tools and gardening ancillaries. Clean and sharpen the gardening tools. As this can be done inside the shed or garage it is a great activity for a wet day. 4) Pruning Trees - Most trees are better pruned in their dormant period when they have no leaves on. You can see there branch structure and therefore you can see what needs to be done. However, do note that if the tree is grown for its spring flowers this activity could cut off their flowers, so in this case it may be better to leave it to just after flowering. Also, it is better to do this job earlier in winter as nearer to spring the sap will start to rise in the trees and any cuts made then could bleed sap. To start with cut out dead, diseased or crossing stems and then prune branches which are low hanging if they are in the way or dangerous for passers by. However, if the job is too large for you do not do it yourself, please consult a professional as tree surgery can be dangerous. 5) Planning - A great activity for beside a big fire on the worst days of winter. Consider your garden, consult Garden books, decide on new plants you would like, browse through seed catalogues and think of the year to come!

Colour in the Garden

28 Nov 2014

Using colour in your garden design dosn't have to be limited to the colours we select in the flowers. Strong colours can also be used on some of the hard landscaping elements in the garden design, for instance, on garden fences, walls, furniture, sheds and even by introducing strong coloured garden features. In a garden design which we completed for a garden in Charlesland near Blue Fences in Garden DesignGreystones, Co Wicklow over the summer, we introduced a strong blue shade as the backdrop to the garden on the fences and on the shed. It helps to lift the garden out of the ordinary and will provide a wonderful backdrop to the plants when they grow and establish. In another garden design we recently completed in Stepaside, Co Dublin, we painted the raised planters in very bright pink and blue shades. This was a much bolder move with very strong contrasting shades but it worked and the Client loves it! Colour can be a very personal choice and what one Blue in Garden Designperson loves another might not. To make it work the colour you use needs to be repeated in the garden a few times or picked up in something else in the garden design, for instance a garden feature. In this garden design, notUsing Bold Colours in Garden Design only did we repeat the colour on diagaonally opposite raised planters and the shed but we also chose plants which had flowers of a similar colour to add to the effect. Note also, that we mixed in some white on the shed and rear wall so as no to overdo the effect. There was also a lot of surrounding fences visible from this garden, so we stuck with a strong wood colour on these fences so as to provide some continuity to the surroundings and not break it up too much. The availability of paint colours for the garden has improved greatly over the last few years with a number of major suppliers providing off the shelf products for use outside in a much wider range of colours than was there in the past. We are often afraid of using strong colours in the garden but it can be worth the risk and if we get it wrong or get bored with the colour, don't worry, it can easily be re-painted. Go on, don't be afraid, take a chance and have a go!

Garden Design for a Garden in Charlesland, Co Wicklow

11 Jul 2014

Construction has just started on a Garden Design we completed for a Garden in Charlesland, near Greystones, Co Wicklow. The design of the new garden has a circular patio offset into the south west facing corner overlapping an existing rectangular paved area. The patio will be made with granite cobblestones backed up by a border filled with attractive planting and finished with an edging of cobblestones laid slightly higher than the patio. This border will continue down the east side of the garden flowing in line with a curving path made from cobblestones which will link the patio to the shed. A small offset semicircle of decorative gravel adjacent to the circular patio will enclose a space for a Chiminea which will be encircled by a low wall making it a key Garden Design with curved bordersfeature within the garden. Another semicircular border will be cut into the existing patio nearest the house on the west boundary to balance the design. The same cobble stone will wrap around the outside of all borders and lawns linking all sides of the garden together and providing a nice finish to the existing paving and helping to pull it into the overall design. A border will continue along the east side of the garden, finished in cobblestones, set at the same level as the lawn for ease Raised Sleeper Borderof maintenance. The border will finish at a raised upright sleeper border curving around the north east facing corner of the garden. A feature of the clients choice will be set into the raised border surrounded by lush foliage and shade loving plants. The cobblestones will continue at the base of the sleepers to flow into another border set at the same level as the lawn, wrapping around the shed to allow for sufficient planting to aid in camouflaging the shed.

Garden Design for an L Shaped Garden

20 May 2014

It is hard sometimes to decide what is the best garden design for an L-Shaped garden as it is easy to lose some of the garden around the corner if not designed well. This garden design is for an L shaped garden and was completed for a garden in Naas. It had an existing patio which the clients wished to keep in the part of the L shape nearest the house. The rest of the garden was in grass with a shed and children's play equipment. The client's wanted to make the most of the garden and to transform it into a place that they could enjoy and make use of during the day and in the evenings. They were also adding some extra feature windows into the house overlooking the garden and wanted to make the view from these windows into a feature in itself. Although they liked the garden, they were not big gardeners and so, they wanted a garden which could easily be kept. The proposed garden design transforms the existing garden into an attractive space for both outdoor entertainment and when on view from within the house, whilst still allowing space for the children to play and for some play equipment. The new garden design is based on interlinking rectangular spaces for the patio, gravel area, lawn and children’s play house, which draw the user around the corner of the garden thereby making use of all the garden. The existing patio is being enhanced by surrounding it on the two sides adjacent to the house with decking. This decking will run adjacent to the house providing an attractive path which will form an interface between the house and the rest of the garden. Raised beds and an integrated rectangular seat will run along the north east facing fence partially enclosing the patio whilst at the same time allowing views out into the garden. The seat is being finished in the same wood as used for the decking thereby complimenting each other and drawing the design together. The borders are being finished in Donegal quartz walling stone with a capping of Indian sandstone, which will compliment the existing paving on the patio. A section along the boundary fence adjacent to the integrated seat will be allowed for the placement of a BBQ to allow for outdoor cooking. The garden is being opened up with views down the garden via a step of stepping stones leading the eye to another integrated wood finished seat in the east facing corner of the garden. This area will also be backed up by a raised rectangular shaped border wrapping around the corner and finished in the same manner as those around the patio, making it a very attractive place to be within and to view from the house. A rectangular lawn is to be surrounded by an edging of soft tumbled buff colour granite cobbles backed up by a row of bamboo against the rear wall. It is proposed to finish the soil surface in this border and a number of other borders within the garden with large Scottish pebbles to reduce maintenance whilst at the same time providing an attractive finish. The bamboo itself will provide essential screening from the houses to the rear. The Birch tree in the north facing corner will be maintained which together with one of the trees in the other corner along the north west facing wall will provide a frame for the children’s play house which will be moved to this boundary. The play frame will be positioned centrally along this boundary in a bed of gravel with just a few stepping stones to the fore. The play frame itself will be re-painted and some planting in the gravel adjacent to the play frame will soften this area and integrate the play frame into its new home, making it a lovely space to view from the sitting area in the opposite corner of the garden. Two raised borders will be built adjacent to the rear side of the extension with a central set of steps linking the decking to the lawn. This will provide access to the garden from the garage and it will also provide a nice view from the extension windows when completed. The borders will be finished with Donegal quartz walls and capped in sandstone to compliment the patio. The garden design will integrate the side alley into the garden by enhancing it through the installation of borders against the boundaries on alternate sides of the lane, partially screening the view down the alley and allowing a view of a set of stepping stones in a gravel bed which will run through the centre of the alley. These stepping stones will echo and compliment the stepping stones used through gravel down to the rectangular seat in the opposite corner of the garden. To provide a finishing touch to the Garden Design the boundary walls will be painted cream and the fence will be painted black to provide an attractive backdrop to the garden.

Garden Design for Entertaining

24 Jun 2013

This Garden Design is ideal for entertaining. It will extend the house out into the garden, with an expansive patio, integrated built in BBQ and sitting areas, a curvaceous lawn and a dedicated children’s play area. The design will have a cottage like feel which will come from the use of reclaimed bricks and paving intermingled with decorative gravel and coupled with a soft cottage style planting scheme. Garden Design with Built in Seat The sandstone patio will flow out from the house to finish in a rectangular built in cedar finished sitting area positioned in the south facing corner of the garden. The sitting area will be set at the same level as the existing paving and will be surrounded on three sides with soft planting set in a raised planting bed surrounding the seat with an overhanging Pergola. Garden Design with built in BBQ A built in bespoke BBQ area with adjacent seating will be positioned in the east facing corner of the patio nearest the kitchen for ease of access. The built in BBQ will be made from reclaimed bricks with space for the BBQ in the centre and counters each side. There will be dedicated shelving and cupboards provided under the BBQ for storage. It will be flanked by a raised bed on the right side and connect seamlessly to a complimentary built in rectangular seat on the left side. The seat will be finished in the same design as the seating in the south facing corner. A Pergola will be positioned in this corner of the garden which will back up the seating and extend over the BBQ. This will provide an attractive backdrop to this area as well as providing a partial canopy over the BBQ. Borders finished in a reclaimed brick edge will provide a back drop to the patio which will be set off by a new reclaimed brick wall at the rear supporting a lawn set 400mm above the paving. A rock water feature will be positioned within this border on direct view from the picture window of the house. Garden Design with garden bench Steps, offset from the house and curving in line with the connecting walls will be positioned off centre and will connect the patio to a new lawn. The new lawn will be edged in reclaimed bricks to provide an easily maintained edge for the surrounding border and a mowing strip. A raised border supported by a reclaimed brick wall, designed in shape to match the curve of the lawn in this area will be positioned in the far corner of the garden. There will be an inset built into the wall to allow the positioning of a garden bench to avail of the evening sun. A children's play area will be backed up by a row of bamboo and finished on the outside with a low row of soft planting to provide a partial screen. The ground surface will be finished in bark mulch for safety. A three pronged strategy is employed to reduce the visual impact of the surrounding fences. To help them recede into the background, the fences will be painted a very dark shade. The new features in the garden, including three new pergolas positioned in the corners of the garden, will assist in distracting the eye from the boundaries. Attractive planting on the boundary, including climbers clambering over the pergolas will finish and help to disguise the boundaries. Some small trees will be positioned strategically in the borders surrounding the garden to provide more screening and height in the borders and a row of bamboo will be planted behind the rear fence to screen the views beyond. Finally, outdoor lighting will be essential to light up the garden at night and make it both an attractive place to be within and to view from the house during cooler evenings.

Great Planting Plans

8 May 2013

Sometimes it takes time to see the results of all the planning that goes into creating good Garden Design Plans and Planting Plans. A good garden design plan relies on the maturity of the plants in the planting plan and when one first plants a garden the planting is normally very immature and the scheme initially can look very scarce. Depending on the type of the plants in the Planting Plan this can resolve itself reasonably quickly or take quite some time. Most perennial plants can take upto a year or two to be at their best but shrubs can take a lot longer. So, if you want a scheme to mature quickly usePrevious Planting before work started on Garden Design Plan mostly Perennial Plants. However, having a few shrubs to provide a backbone to a scheme in the winter months is also very important, particularly if you don't want the garden to look empty during the colder months of the year, as a lot of perennials die back underground during winter. This planting plan was planted last May and is now looking great. It was based on the use of mostly perennial plants, bulbs, some grasses, Roses and small number of shrubs. This planting plan was for a garden in the Carrickmines area of Dublin and was based around a colour scheme with a lot of Purple and White. The Planting Plans uses two structural white flowering Cherry trees at each end of the border, Prunus 'Shirotae', coupled with the shrubs Lavender and Daphne for their evergreen nature and flowers in summer and winter respectively. Just after Planting in May 2012 The purple and white tulips coupled with the white Daffodils are looking great at the moment with a big impact from the Iberis sempervirens at the front. This perennial is also evergreen so is a great plant for all year around structure as well as providing a massive blast of white blossom in the spring. As spring fades into summer, the lavender will come into flower with the billowing purple of the Nepeta 'Six Hill's Giant' to compliment them at the front with Allium 'Purple Sensation and white Rosa 'Iceberg' to the rear. To extend the season into late summer and early autumn there is also some white Agapanthus 'albus' and purple Salvia 'Ostfreisland'. Finally, to add a frothy texture to the Planting Plan three different grasses are used, Calmagrotis 'Karl Forrester' and Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails' at the back and mid border and Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue' at the front. I think this is a great scheme for any garden with an average size narrow long border which receives light for at least half of the day. It has great colour and is designed for all year around interest with enough structural and evergreen plants to hold the scheme together but allow for the more floriferous plants to shine when their time comes.

Contemporary Back Garden Design

17 Apr 2013

We have just finished a design for a back garden in Greystones, Co Wicklow which has a contemporary twist. The exisiting garden is generous in size but completely unkempt, with a deck adjacent to the house connected to an area of paving. The centre of the garden is mainly in grass surrounded by poorly shaped shrub borders. There is also a significant slope in the garden upwards of about 1.26m in difference between the house and the wall at the end of the garden. Renovations are underway in the house and the owners decided to take this opportunity to upgrade the garden as well. Existing Greystones Garden, Co Wicklow The new garden design will take advantage of the difference in levels within the garden and divide the garden into two levels, the patio level adjacent to the house and the lawn which will be set 500mm higher than the patio. This will enable the slope on the garden to be reduced over the remaining area which will be finished in lawn and planted areas. The division between the two levels will be facilitated by attractive plastered curved walls which will wrap around the rear of a sandstone paved patio edged in cobbles. These walls which are a key feature of the design are shaped asymmetrically in a convex and concave manner around the new patio. Curving Garden Steps The walls will lead seamlessly into a set of curving steps which will be positioned at an angle to the centre line of the double doors into the main living area of the house. To add to the effect the walls at the side of the steps will rise in height as the steps go up, finishing 400mm above the highest step. The planting above the walls will enhance the design with feature trees to the left and right and ball topiary along the top of the wall which will be softened by attractive perennial planting. At night time blue LED ground lights positioned at the bottom of the wall will cast upwards a blue hue onto the walls creating a lovely view from the main living areas of the house during the evening.Visualisation Greystones Garden Design The lawn will rise in height gently from 500mm higher than the patio to 1.2m at the end of the garden. It will be re-shaped into attractive flowing curves and edged in camel dust cobbles to provide both a definitive edge for the borders and a mowing strip for grass cutting. The existing garden shed has been moved to the rear of the garden and will be well camouflaged by planting. Additionally, an area at the end of the garden has also be set aside for vegetable growing . Greystones Garden Design The only plants to be maintained in the garden will be the large tree on the north west facing boundary which will be enhanced by surrounding it with low growing flowering plants. The oil tank adjacent to the patio will be screened by a new plastered wall fronted with bamboo style planting. All the walls surrounding the garden, which are currently covered in ivy will be cleared , plastered and painted. They will then provide a very attractive back drop to the garden. This design is both simple and unfussy. It makes the new concave and convex walls into the key feature within the garden, playing on the asymmetry of the design and clean finish to provide a very stylish garden. Its simplicity will be the secret to its success.

Greystones Garden - Turf laid

21 Jan 2013

The turf was laid in the Greystones garden just before Christmas. Unfortunately, the weather was not the best for the job with a lot of rain having fallen over the previous days. As a result the ground was very wet making the job very difficult to complete. However, as the Client wanted a green lawn in the garden for the Christmas period we went ahead with the job. Laying turf instead of sowing grass seed really does give an instant finish to a garden. Instead of having to wait weeks for germination and further still for a significant green sod, turf is instantaneous. However, you still have to manage the turf after laying, avoiding walking on it and watering regularly until it has established. Additionally, the decorative gravel was laid on the driveway and surrounding the stepping stones and paving. A few other jobs are left to do, including the planting which will really be the finishing touch to this garden.

Greystones Garden Construction cont

7 Jan 2013

Construction of the garden in Greystones was nearly completed before Christmas. The layout of the garden had become apparent on the ground with the natural coloured sandstone patio at the lowest level completed and the walls which were designed to support raised lawns constructed. These walls, partially clad in Grey Donegal Quartz to flank the steps, looked great capped with the sandstone to match the patio. The remaining walls were to be plastered to a smooth finish which should make a very attractive contrast when completed. A huge amount of soil had to be removed from the site to set up the levels which caused some delays in the project. Additionally, due to weather conditions the ground was extremely wet over the entire site which slowed progress down. Another problem encountered was due to the availability of the natural coloured sandstone which had been selected from the Tobermore range well published in its catalogs. However, on ordering it became apparent that getting the right quantity in the required sizes was an added complication which had to be resolved and delays were experienced. Stepping stone paths which will be surrounded by decorative gravel run across the front of the house. The line and spacing of the stepping stones was very important to the overall design and a number of manhole's got in the way of the run of steps. Recess manhole covers were used to camouflage these manholes and keep the spacing even. Remaining work includes laying the granite cobble edging to the flower beds, laying turf for the lawns, putting in the decorative gravel and finally making and planting the flower beds.

Greystones Garden Construction

20 Nov 2012

Construction has started on the new Greystones garden. The areas of lawn, paving and paths have been laid out with the differing levels becoming clear on the ground. This was probably the most difficult and time consuming part of this project due to the existing complicated levels within the garden and the proposed design. It is well worth spending extra time on this activity as mistakes made in this area will be costly to correct later on. The walls delineating these areas are under construction. Once these have been completed progress on the other elements of the design will fall into place quickly. The only complication found during this phase was that the front of the house was not completly flush and striaght with the porch area adjacent to it. As the design relies on a rectangular arrangement of walls / lawns and patio all in line with the facade of the house this caused a complication which had to be addressed by a slight re-alignment of the walls.

Front Garden

22 Oct 2012

It can be difficult to design a Front Garden and make it into an attractive space when a large amount of the area is to be used for car parking. Often the car parking area takes over and there if little area left for plants or a lawn to soften and balance the area of hard landscaping. I just completed a design of a front garden in Rathfarnham in Dublin where there was a need to park three cars. The front garden was in poor condition with some cobble lock, bare earth and overgrown planting. It is a lovely house but the front garden did it no justice and there was a need for a major upgrade. I have designed a garden based on a geometric layout of rectangles edged in granite cobbles with borders directly against the house each side of the front door to integrate the house and garden. The front door is set off by a new set of generous granite steps surrounded by an area of granite paving. The borders to the left and right of the front door will also be filled with topiary and an attractive planting of soft perennials surrounded by box which will really set off the front of the house. The paving will continue around the garden to surround rectangular shrub borders on each side and across the front. There is already three beautiful mature Birch trees in the garden in one of these areas and these will be incoporated into the design and enhanced by an underplanting of spring flowering bulbs and white Foxgloves.

New Garden Design Greystones

18 Sep 2012

I have just finished a new design for a garden in a lovely area of Greystones. The area to be landscaped is the front garden. However, due to the layout of the house, with a new extension and kitchen opening directly onto this area, the garden will be developed to include a patio, lawn and flower garden which will be adjacent to, but seperated from a driveway and car parking area. As a result of the recent extension being built, the garden is currently finished in rough bare soil, weeds and gravel, with an area roughly marked out for a patio wtih raised sleepers. The garden is surrounded on two sides by a mature hedge which needs filling out and a large shed adjacent to the hedge. The garden is currently a mixture of complex levels with the gradient varying across the whole garden by nearly 1m. New entrance to gardenThe proposed design divides the garden into two parts, the driveway and parking areas and then a patio and leisure garden. The division between the two areas is completed with an attractive Beech hedge and entrance steps flanked by topiary and ground cover roses which will lead down to the porch, front door and garden. The main garden is divided into three levels of adjacent interconnecting rectangular areas providing spaces for a patio and lawns. At the lower level, attractive regular stepping stones lead from the entrance steps through gravel to an Indian Sandstone patio, which is directly adjacent to the glass doors opening into the main kitchen area of the house. Surrounding the patio there are lawns set at two different levels and supported by attractive Donegal quartz walls. The patio has steps leading to a top lawn which is directly opposite the doors of the kitchen and across from a semi-circular border adjacent to the hedge. This border will contain a garden feature which will form an attractive vista when viewed from the kitchen. Patio & PergolaAgainst the side hedge a Pergola will be sited with an attractive bench underneath. This bench will allow enjoyment of the evening sun as it will be west facing. The shed will be integrated into the design by surrounding it with an attractive flower border supported by Donegal Quartz walls which will wrap around this side of the garden to meet the entrance steps.

Front Garden in Foxrock

15 Aug 2012

We just completed the installation of a new design for a front garden in Foxrock, Co Dublin. The house is in a lovely well maintained development but the front garden did no justice to the house itself. The planting, hard landscaping and overall finish was very poor Front of House Beforefor such a lovely house in one of the best areas in south county Dublin. The Client wanted to radically improve the front garden and as a result the overall appearance of the front of the house. However, one challenging aspect of the design was that they still wanted to be able to park up to 4 cars which limited theFront door after available possibilities. View from gate after The proposed design has transformed the existing garden into an attractive compliment to the house, giving the garden a more contemporary finish with cleaner lines using View from gate beforesharper materials and defined planting and parking areas. Granite was chosen as the main Right Boundary Beforematerial in the design which has the perfect balance of strength, beauty and endurance and is a great choice for a driveway. Right Boundary after The design dramatically improves the entrance to the garden with the introduction of a Front Wall and Pillar Afternew wall and donegal quartz pillars capped by graniteFront Boundary Before and that of the front doorway, by enhancing it with a new curved generously sized steps flanked by granite finished curved beds and attractive planting. The outer beds were planted with pink flowering evergreen Azalea's with the two beds each side of the front door flanked by standard topiary bay balls under planted with perennials with an edge of low box hedging thereby enhancing the front door. Granite Edged Flower beds to the left and right of the house after Privacy was improved by the planting of a beech hedge under planted with white ground cover Roses along the left and right sides of the garden. The border to the front of the garden was planted with a scheme of mainly purple and white perennialFront wall of house befores, small shrubs and grasses giving a lovely gentle scheme to compliment the backdrop of the newly plastered wall. The wall was plastered using a new acrylic finish which is very long lasting and won't need to be repainted regularly. The wall and associated donegal quartz pillars were both capped in the same granite as was used for the steps and to surround the borders, bringing the whole design together. To finish the parking area granite cobbles Parking area afterwere used at the entrance, down the side passage ways and as a detail a single row to compliment the granite edging stone. The main parking area was then finished in 10mm ballylusk gravel which complimented beautifully the rest of the materials in the design.Parking area before

Circular Lawn Garden Design

23 Jul 2012

I have just finished a garden design for an urban garden in Blackrock, Co Dublin. The garden is rectangular in shape and quite large for an urban garden with a beautiful old granite wall as a backdrop at the end of the garden. There is an existing patio adjacent to the house which will be kept but the remainder of the garden which is mostly finished in grass with some borders at each side will be transformed. Existing Garden The proposed design will transform the garden with a circular lawn in the centre surrounded by granite cobbles and a stepping stone path in decorative gravel. Kota blue limestone which is a wonderful grey blue colour will be used for the stepping stone path which will provide access to the shed and a sitting area at the end of the garden. This will create a garden with both softer lines and more structured planting areas. Existing GardenThere are two existing very attractive Prunus serrula trees in the garden but the path has been designed to work around the trees and they will therefore not have to be moved. Raised beds will be created to the left and right of the garden in a circular shape to compliment the lawn which will be finished in Donegal quartz. The borders will wrap around the shed at the end of the garden which will be camouflaged by trees, beech hedging and planting. The beautiful granite wall at the end of the garden will be enhanced by another border which will be planted in a lush jungle style with one of the clients own terracotta Urns used as a feature in the planting. A sitting area within the gravel at the end of the garden will be set against this backdrop where the clients own existing love seat will be used as the centre piece creating a feature in itself.

Chelsea Flower Show 2012

31 May 2012

We were really lucky this year and had the opportunity to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. It was a great experience which I enjoyed both on a professional and social level. The gardens were as usual gorgeous with a very high standard achieved and lots of gold medals were awarded. As an extra plus the weather was glorious. You could not have wished for more. You have to admire Diarmuid Gavin's Magical Garden for its creativity, however, when you are there all you can see is a gigantic metal pyramid structure covered in plants. Unfortunately, you were not allowed in and from the outside you could not see very much except the perimeter planting. From an audience perspective therefore I thought it was a disappointing. I had to wait til I got home and saw a recording I had made from the TV which showed what was on each floor and it was amazing inside. It is often quite difficult to admire the show gardens from the perimeter and you expect this, however, this brought the problem to a new level. So much inside was not visible that you were really better off seeing it on the TV. I loved Adam Frost's garden 'A rural Muse. I felt that the garden had a lovely relaxing atmosphere about it and I would have loved to light the fire pit and sit beside it on a warm evening. Andy Sturgeon's garden was inspired by the Arts and Craft era and it was as usual beautiful, contemporary and well executed at the same time. Cleve West won 'Best in Show' and it was a beautiful garden using old materials with topiary, beech hedging and wonderful planting. It had the feeling a grand old English garden but with a contemporary twist. The Satoyama garden won 'Best in Show' in the Artisan category and it was well deserved. It was my favorite in this category too. You just had to stare and admire the detail in the design and how well it was executed. In the Fresh Garden category, I loved the Rainbows garden with its bright orange seats and carpet of Gallium. Unlike some of the other gardens in this category you could see this garden actually been used as a Garden! Joe Swift's garden had wonderful wooden structures overhanging the garden which contained a plants with warm colours which reflected the wood beautifully. There was definitely a number of trends running through the show this year including water conservation and sustainability. It was also more about the plants as opposed to the hard landscaping and architecture of the show gardens. The planting in general was very soft with plants mingling together like in nature punctuated by structural plants including trees, formal hedges and topiary.

Design for a Front Garden

16 May 2012

I completed a blog post on a Design for a Front Garden 15/2 this year. Work on this project has now started and I thought I would do a blog post showing progress on the construction work. The photo on the left shows the front garden before any work has started. All the boundary planting has now been removed and the concrete wall has been built across the front of the garden. The proposal's included donegal quartz pillars each side of the gate and at the far end of the wall. These have proved to be more difficult than expected to build to specification. This is a natural stone and each piece has to be hand cut to its exact position making the build very slow. However, the expert stonemason on the job, Barry, who is still working on them is managing to achieve a near perfect finish. It has taken much longer than expected though.....but worth the effort I think. These pillars will be capped with buff coloured granite when finished. To add privacy across the side two boundaries of the garden we have just planted Beech hedging. It was bare rooted and only just coming into leaf but when it leaf's up and fills out it will look great. Due to delays in starting this project I was very concerned that we would miss the last date for planting bare rooted hedging. It was close but we made it. I had ordered the hedge some time ago and had dug it in to a spare patch in my own garden to keep it safe. It was getting very late but at last it is planted. May would not normally be recommended! As a hedge of this size (175cm/200cm in height) is very expensive we will be shortly installing an automatic watering system to ensure the hedge establishes well. This should only be needed for the first few years but is well worth the effort considering the expense of the hedge itself.

Great Planting Combinations

26 Apr 2012

Creating great planting combinations must be one of the most challenging aspects of gardening which requires one to consider many aspects of each plants characteristics, including leaf, flower colour, form and season of interest. Plant combinations which work well all year around can be difficult to put together. This combination in my own garden looks absolutely brilliant at the moment with the Iberis sempervirens tumbling over and out of the natural stone wall but it also looks good at other times of the year too. The year around effect works because it has great structure with a good amount of evergreen plants. The upright conifer is Thuja smargold and adds height to the composition with the tree Betula 'Youngii' overhanging the planting beautifully in the background. The other star in this composition at the moment is Pieris Forest Flame with its reddish leaves turning to pink. What cannot be seen at the moment is the Roses just to the right of this photo beside the steps which will flower in the summer and the Hebe 'Black Beauty' to the back of the tree. Hebe's are evergreen but the what I like most about this Hebe is the dark coloured foliage which provides a great foil for other planting, it also has purple flowers in summer.

Planting on Banks

10 Apr 2012

One of the most difficult places to plant is banks or slopes. They tend to produce very dry and difficult positions for plants to thrive. It is very difficult to water them as the water tends to run off the bank as opposed to sink in. Additionally, it is even difficult to improve the soil with a mulch or garden compost because, dependent on the extent of the slope, during heavy rain the mulch/compost can be washed to the bottom of the bank. As in most cases one of the secrets of success it to choose plants which can survive in those conditions. Plant them well ensuring that you add lots of garden compost or farmyard manure, leave a small well/dip around the base of each plant to help get any water that falls directly into the root system. Finally, initially at least, look after the plants by watering regularly and weeding around them until they become established. If you can afford it an automatic watering system can help in this task. The banks in this photo are covered in a good mass of shrubs. The shrubs which are doing well include Photinia 'Red Robin', Cistus, Phormiums, Forsythia, Viburnum tinus. Ribes and Spirea. The banks on the very top photo were planted approximately two years ago and are starting to come together. They have been planted with plants which would generally be considered smaller than the larger shrubs above. Those that are doing well include Heathers, Sedum, Grasses including Hakonechloa and Carex, Juniperus horizontalis and Convolvulus.

Kerb Appeal

20 Mar 2012

It is amazingly easy to make a garden look better from the roadside with a little effort. Follow these simple steps to give your garden 'Kerb Appeal': 1. Tidy Up. Firstly, the most obvious but sometimes neglected thing to do, tidy away any unwanted items in front of the house. 2. Hide the Rubbish Bins. We often store our rubbish bins in front of the house and they are the most unsightly items. Find a place out of sight to store them, if neccessary create a new space and camaflague the bins with planting. Bamboo is a great plant for this. 3. Weeding/Pruning. Do a bit of garden maintenance. If you have borders weed them and cut back any overgrown shrubs and hedges. 4. Cut the lawn. Fertilize and apply weedkiller and mosskiller if neccessary. 5. Clean cut edges make a difference. Cut along the edge of any walkways or drives where they intersect with the lawn. Make sure the edge of the borders are clean and sharp by using a spade or edging tool. 6. Mulch the borders. Top dress the borders with a mulch of farmyard manure or bark chippings. This has an amazing effect on the appeareance of the borders. It is like a facelift! 7. Clean hard landscaping. Ensure all hard landscaping is free of weeds by removing the weeds by hand or applying a weedkiller. Power wash hard landscaping if very dirty. 8. Plants in Pots surrounding the front door. Finally, the finishing touch is to place plants to the left and right of the front door and plant up with seasonal plants during the summer or topiary for an all year round impact. Good Luck.

Design for a Front Garden

15 Feb 2012

I recently completed a design for the front garden of a house in Dublin. The existing front garden served mostly as a parking area and was finished in gravel with some paving near the house. The gravel was surrounded by uninteresting planting and low wooden posts which provided minimum privacy and the no real entrance into the house and garden. The proposed design will transform the garden into an attractive compliment to the house and improve the overall appearance of the facade of the house. To improve the visual impact of the front door of the house, new curved borders surrounded by granite curbing and granite steps will lead up to the front door. Oatmeal Granite was chosen to be used as the main material in the design as it has the perfect balance of strength and beauty and is suitable for a driveway. Granite cobbles will be laid around the driveway surrounding a central area of decorative gravel for parking. The garden will be surrounded by a new wall and entrance pillars to the front and borders filled with Beech hedge under planted with ground cover white roses along the sides which together will provide more privacy and a more attractive entrance.

Garden Design for a Small Rectangular Garden

30 Jan 2012

I recently completed this garden design plan for a small rectangular garden in Co Wicklow. The current garden is completely undeveloped with only some paving against the house, a shed and a lawn in bad condition, as you can see in the next photo. The Client wanted a plan which would give her a low maintenance yet attractive garden at a low cost. She planned to build the garden over a number of years as money became available. However, she saw the advantage of getting a plan drawn up which she could work to and thereby avoid any expensive mistakes. The design uses kota blue limestone in mixed rectangular sizes to create a patio nearest the house in the sunny west facing corner. This links to staggered pathways of the same limestone running around the garden, surrounded by a finish of glenview decorative gravel. Continuous paths were agreed upon instead of stepping stoned to reduce the drift of the pebbles up on to the surface of the stones which tends to happen with stepping stones in gravel. To add interest to the garden a number of features were included. A wooden arbour was placed against one side of the garden under which the client will be able to place her own bench. A U-Shaped raised wooden sleeper border at the end of the garden against the concrete block will surround a raised rectangular pond. A row of bamboo was proposed along one boundary to improve screening from neighbouring houses which will be balanced by more bamboo on the other side of the garden, each side of the door into the shed. This will assist in screening this necessary garden accessory too! The gravel surrounding the patio is softened by the addition a mixture of rocks, stones and pebbles of varying sizes inter planted with grasses, lavender and other plants. To finish it was proposed that the shed, arbor, and surrounding fences were painted complimentary shades. The overall effect should be a welcoming attractive garden, enjoyable to sit in and enjoy but also low maintenance.

Cistus In Flower

19 Jan 2012

This Cistus is in flower in my garden at the moment, peeping over a wall I can see directly from my Kitchen window. I don't remember ever seeing a Cistus in flower before in January in my garden. It is a summer flowering shrub, intended to be at its best from June to August. It would normally be recommended as a drought resistant sun loving easy care shrub as its origin's are Mediterranean. It should not be in flower now but obviously due to our current mild winter it is! Funnily enough, nice as it is to see, I would prefer if the seasons did what they were meant to, cold in winter and warm in summer, with flowering following suit, but I forget that we are living in Ireland.

January Garden Maintenance

10 Jan 2012

You may think that there is nothing to do in the garden now as you are not out in it regularly. But there is lots to do, particularly during the relatively mild weather like we are getting at the moment. Work completed now will ensure that the garden is under control early at the start of the growing season. Here is just a short list of some things you can do in the garden at the moment: Old pots which have last years bedding plants still in them can be cleaned out ready for use in the spring or summer. Pots of bulbs which you planted up last autumn can be checked, weeded and top dressed if necessary. Garden sheds, lawnmowers and tools can be sorted and cleaned ready for use. A general tidy of the borders around the garden to remove all dead plant growth from perennial plants, weeds and last years bedding will greatly improve the appearance of the garden and prepare it for spring. Planning the garden is a great activity for those wet or cold days when you are stuck indoors. I know it is hard to get out and start working in the garden during the winter. There is always the inclination to stay indoors when the weather is not good. However, if you wrap up well and get out there you will be delighted with the results particularly later in the year when you realise the fruits of your early efforts.

Planting in Greystones garden is maturing

6 Oct 2011

I was back in the garden in Greystones this morning to do some maintenance. I designed and planted this garden late last year and over that time the planting has matured nicely. During the summer the summer flowering perennials flowered beautifully but now the structure of the planting is showing as the perennials are dying away. The screening of the garden shed is working well with the Bamboo's establishing well. It was looking very attractive (for a shed!). The very wet area that was adjacent to the shed seems to have dried up with the help of the additional drainage and planting. One of my favourite plants was still in flower, Verbena bonariensis which was planted amongst grasses and Nepeta. It has a light and airy struture which mixes well with grasses.

Chaumont-sur-Loire Festival of Gardens 2011

2 Sep 2011

During our recent holidays in France we stopped in the Loire valley to visit the Chaumont sur Loire Festival of Gardens 2011. Every year this wonderful Chateau hosts a contemporary Garden Festival. This festival is a display of over 24 gardens built each year on a different theme within the grounds of the Chateau's gardens. The Chateau and associated gardens can be visited separately and in themselves are worth a visit with sculptures set within the beautifully landscaped grounds. The festival has a theme each year and this year it was 'Gardens of the future or the art of happy biodiversity. The 24 gardens, all about the size of an average back garden are set within beautiful landscaped grounds with wonderful flower borders and perfectly manicured lawns creating walkways between the display gardens. The style of the gardens is mostly very contemporary and on theme with wild colours, unusual objects and interesting designs. Most would not be suitable for your own back garden but are meant to stimulate thought about where gardens are going in the future and the issues surrounding biodiversity and maintaining this within our gardens. In the garden on the right water represents our most valuable resource in a 'pixelated' technical world! In the garden on the left every label represents an extinct plant giving a graveyard appearance! I have to say that the two gardens which I loved best were both more like traditional gardens, the Mediterranean Garden and the Jewel Garden, shown below. For young children the gardens can be fun, with interesting items within the gardens providing entertainment for them and leading them on. My son liked best the garden entitled 'Between the Sky and Earth' which had ribbons of blue and white hanging all over the garden which were intended to give a misty appearance. The elements within the garden were mean to represent the constants of water, sky, earth and clouds. The garden to the right had glass balls suspended all over it representing pollen and the possibilities of new life. The festival continues until October and is well worth a visit, if not a journey. It is also re-invented every year with a new set of gardens on a different theme, if you want to build a visit into your plans for holidays next year.

My Own Garden

20 Jul 2011

The summer has finally hit my garden and all the perennials which are at their best in mid summer are doing their thing now, making an exuberant display of blooms. I love this time of year in the garden as all the work you have put in earlier in the year pays off. This photo is one of my favorite views of my garden showing Penstemon's and Crocosmia in the fore and large Daisy plants with Lavender to the rear. All in exuberant flower. There is also Agapanthus in this shot but it is only coming into flower now. Agapanthus are always late to bloom, needing more warmth than the rest. They also take a longer time to make a decent clump and like to be congested but once they bloom the flowers are worth the wait. This photo shows the pond in my garden surrounded by Geranium palmatum, Hosta's and Phormium, to name but a few. Finally, ornamental grasses and the foliage of other plants massed together may not be big on colour but are just as nice to appreciate in all their glory as the other more showy colourful plants. This composition shows, Phormium 'Alice Blackman', Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails, Hemerocallis, Ligularia, Melianthus major and Euphorbia mellifera.

Rathdrum Garden

21 Jun 2011

The client in this case had an existing garden which she felt needed improvement. There was a number of hard landscaping issues which needed updating, the patio was dis-coloured and attractive planting was lacking. When she called us in she had already made a lot of decisions as regards what to do with the hard landscaping and where she wanted new borders. What she really wanted was our advice and help with the planting. She needed help pulling the planting together. She was creating two new raised borders each side of the patio which she wanted planted with a jungle look. She was also creating two long low borders each side of the main part of the garden using gentle curving lines with a larger border nearer the raised deck beside the patio. The long border to the right had already been planted some time ago along half its length, however, there was serious congestion in some areas. This would require re-arranging existing plants to make the best use of these plants. Additionally, there were some plants which had died over the last hard winter or which were not growing well which needed to be removed. Finally, there was a bank at the end of the garden which was planted with beautiful Birch trees and mulched in gravel. She wanted more plants in this existing border. This border had a beautiful view out to the fields beyond, so choosing low growing planting was important. We devised a planting plan for her after a number of meetings where we discussed and agreed on particular plants. We also tested her soil and considered the various conditions in each of the areas to be planted. This is necessary as all plants have preferred conditions and it is important to choose plants to suit each situation to ensure they will thrive. Work is still not finished in this garden as the walls supporting all the raised borders need to be finished, however, you can see the overall improvement in the garden in the photo's even without the finish of the walls. BeforeThe jungle look nearest the house was created by planting Bamboo'After walls & Plantings, Ferns, Fatsia japonica, Bergenia, Sarcocca and Hosta's. The pictures here show the areas before and after the planting, however the walls still have to be faced with slate which was going to be completed next. Some trees, including Malus and Crateagus and standard Photinia topiary balls were added to the long borders to give some height to the sides of the garden. These are all considered to be small trees and will not shade the garden by any major degree over the long term. The bank at the rear was planted with Aubretia, Iberis sempervirens and Heathers to add colour and interest in this area without screening the view or taking from the beautiful existing Birch trees. shady border beforeThe border to the left was quite narrow so it was important to choose plants which did not grow too wide which would result in major pruning in theshady border after long term to keep them to their space. It was also more shady so planting included, Hebe's, Penstemon's, Achellia mollis, Viburnum davidii, Crocosmia and Hypericum tricolour. beforeThe border to the right was wider and we added sun loving ground cover Rosa 'flower carpet', Lavender, Stipa 'pony tails', Choisya ternata 'Sundance' and Santolina. We also did a lot of work re-arranging plants in this border. This is not the best time of year to move plants but it needed to be done and the client excepted that this was risky but agreed to water everything profusely to help reduce possible casualties. There was a dead Cordyline in the border which was cut down but it had begun sprouting at the base, so we decided to leave the lower stem in situ. Additionaly, thereRight Border After is an oil tank half way down the border which needed screening. The existing Photinia should do the trick after we coupled it with a few Bamboo. You might also note that the fence was painted black, this is a great colour for the perimeter of a garden as the colour fades into the background and is a great foil for green foliage. The last border, is the one adjacent to the deck and here we planted more heathers around the edges with Hydragea's, Hebe's and Azalea's. This border was awkward as there was a number of existing shrubs in the border which needed to be pulled together into a more cohesive planting plan. Introducing too many more plant aftervarieties would just have confused the overall arrangement more. We have in this garden made best use of the plants the client had, rearranging where necessary and working around and setting off other shrubs. When the new shrubs mature to be in scale with the existing shrubs this garden will look great. The client can't believe the difference the planting made to the garden already and said she was absolutely thrilled with it! She still has a lot of work to do finishing off the walls and when this is done it will offset the plants beautifully.

Planting of Wicklow Garden

15 Jun 2011

We recently finished the planting of the Wicklow garden. We wereFront of House delighted with the results. All it needs now is for the planting to establish and the grass to grow. It is amazing how a beautiful green lawn can provide a wonderful foil to set off other elements and planting in a garden. Septic Tank BeforeThe upright sleeper wall does a great job hiding the unsightly septic tank. The planting behind the wall includes Sorbus aria 'Lutescens' which make a lovely lollipop shape with attractive leaves which Septic Tank hidden behind Wallare silver on the underside. Under the trees, shrubs which should rise above the wall, so that they can be seen from the house, are planted including Ribes and Cotinus Septic Tank hidden by Sleeper Wall'Royal Purple'. In the gravel area in front of the wall, low growing herbs are planted including Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender. The old pond has been transformed into an attractive water featureOld pond with borders which will overflow with luxuriant growth when established and with an adjacent patio where you can sit to enjoy the pond and garden. A pebble beach has been added to the pond on the patio side to enable wildlife to get into and out of the pond easily. New pond & borders The planting includes Ligularia, Primula's, Ferns, Hosta's, Phormiums, Japanese Maples, Arum Lillies and much more. Before long borderA large border was created on the side of the garden surrounding the existing trees into which paths were created to allow you to walk amongst the plants. The planting included a mix of shrubs including Fuchsia, Abelia, Choisya, Hebe, Viburnum, Hypericum and Cistus. These are all easy shrubs to grow which should establish quickly and not require too much maintenance. Long BorderOnce the grass is established it should provide a wonderful foil for this border. Keeping weeds at bay in the meantime will be the only problem. However, this problem has been reduced as a weed suppressing membrane has been fitted under a finish of bark mulch. This is a beautiful cottage set in wonderful countryside which now sits in an attractive garden which has been designed to blend into the countryside. All that needs to happen now is for the grass to establish and the plants to grow. However, the most important result is that the client is very happy enjoying her new garden!

Bloom 2011

7 Jun 2011

We visited Bloom 2011 this Bank Holiday Monday. It was a lovely day, sunny in part but not too warm and it didn't rain! It was an enjoyable day out, however, I must admit I was a bit disappointed at the show gardens. I know everyone makes a big effort in the design and construction of their gardens and I don't want to be too critical but there appeared to just too many gardens using recycled materials or natural wild looks. I am not sure how practical or attractive it would be to have one these gardens in your own back gardens in the long term. I know that a lot of show gardens would not be designed to be usable for the ordinary back garden but I would have hoped that they would show some aspects that the ordinary gardener could use. The use of recycled materials is definitely in vogue and a great idea however, some of these gardens just didn't have the finished look that you would expect from a designed garden. The natural wild garden is also a wonderful idea, however, the planting in these gardens will have to be managed very well if it is not too run too wild, leaving the garden looking more wild than garden! I loved the River Run City of Literature Garden which made great use of a small space and was well planted. The Portach garden was amazing. It was a stunning piece of artwork as well as a garden designed to bring to our attention the issue of the use of bogs in Ireland. The Hidden Cube Garden also deserved its medal, it was an interesting yet practical garden. Finally, I would have to say that the Woodies display probably did more to show the ordinary garden owner how to design their gardens than any of the show gardens. Simple designs which were practical but included some interest with planting using plants which are available in the Garden Centres without too much searching. A great addition to Bloom.

Blessington Garden & Bamboo Screening

27 May 2011

We were asked recentlyl to help a client in Blessington who according to her "was not not very good at gardening and it took her two years to realise that the garden was still the same as the day she tried to do something about it!" She had two raised beds at right angles supported by sleepers against two concrete block walls and had finished the entire ground space with imprinted concrete. Most of the planting in the beds had died with just a few shrubs remaining. There was obviously a limited budget so it was a real challenge! On visiting this garden one had to worry that there was just two much hard landscaping with the concrete walls and ground. However, we came up with a planting plan for the borders which would transform them into lush green borders, which we reckoned would help to offset the harshness of the imprinted concrete. We also agreed that we would cover the walls over the raised beds with Bamboo screening, again reducing the visual effect of the hard landscaping. We were very pleased with the results, as was the client who is now the very happy owner of newly planted borders who now "just can't get enough of admiring her beautiful garden". The planting will mature into lush borders and the bamboo screen is a very economical but attractive way of covering concrete walls. A very happy result all round.

Rathmines Garden 1 month later

5 May 2011

<p class="plain"><img width="204" align="left//>' style="margin: 15px 15px 15px 0px;float: left" bmargin="15" height="123" border="0" daid="7371025" title="" tmargin="15" lmargin="0" rmargin="15">We visited the Rathmines garden we planted a month ago and as you can see from the photo everything has grown considerably. &nbsp; (compare to photo in previous blog entry) &nbsp;Very soon it will be in full bloom. &nbsp; The plants were thriving and growing beautifully. &nbsp; The quality of the soil preparation in this garden has contributed to the great growth and healthy appearance of the plants. &nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p class="plain">&nbsp;</p> <p class="plain">We were there to fill up a dozen or so of the clients existing pots with fresh summer bedding. &nbsp; It was a lovely job to do on a beautiful sunny day and we planted lots of bedding including Geraniums, Nemesia, Senetti's, Lobelia, Begonia's, Antirrihium, Impatiens, Alyssum, Petunia's. &nbsp; I have to say that the one bedding plant I could not do without is the Surfina Petunia's.&nbsp; Two of these in a medium sized trough and within a few weeks they will completely fill the trough and be in beautiful flower. &nbsp; They will then flower all summer long. &nbsp; What more could you ask for?</p>

Rathmines Garden

31 Mar 2011

We visited the Rathmines garden we planted a month ago and as you can see from the photo everything has grown considerably. (compare to photo in previous blog entry) Very soon it will be in full bloom. The plants were thriving and growing beautifully. The quality of the soil preparation in this garden has contributed to the great growth and healthy appearance of the plants. We were there to fill up a dozen or so of the clients existing pots with fresh summer bedding. It was a lovely job to do on a beautiful sunny day and we planted lots of bedding including Geraniums, Nemesia, Senetti's, Lobelia, Begonia's, Antirrihium, Impatiens, Alyssum, Petunia's. I have to say that the one bedding plant I could not do without is the Surfina Petunia's. Two of these in a medium sized trough and within a few weeks they will completely fill the trough and be in beautiful flower. They will then flower all summer long. What more could you ask for?

Wicklow Garden Planting

7 Mar 2011

We were out planting a garden in Rathmines yesterday. The garden had previously been constructed and we were asked to complete the planting. On the sunny side of the garden the Clients wanted a bright and colourful border full of flowering plants. They wanted virtually the colours of the rainbow in the border and were not at all concerned if this caused a clash of colours. We planted mostly Perennials plus some Roses. Roses are really the best flowering shrub and great for colour too. The border was really too narrow for any other shrubs. The perennials planted included Asters, Aubretia, Rudbeckia, Lavander, Lupin, Penstemon, Salvia, Achillea, Nepeta, Phlox and Dianthus. I always enjoy devising planting schemes as many aspects of the plants have to be considered, including flower colour and season, evergreen, decidous etc.

Wicklow Garden Under Construction

7 Feb 2011

I visited the Wicklow garden during the 2nd week of January. All lot of work had been completed, however, there was still much to do. Due to the bad weather conditions work had stopped. The ground and pond were still frozen making it impossible to finish the work. The large bank to the west of the garden was completed and had been finished in bark mulch with an underlying weed suprresion membrane. Due to large size of this area it was felt that a liner was required to keep weeds down while the shrubs grow. Snaking and intersecting paths of gravel had been designed to wind throughout the border to allow for access and to wander amongst the plants. The area behind the upright sleeper wall was also finished in a similar manner and when the plants are mature should screen the top of the septic tank effectively. The lawn has yet to be laid and considering the current weather conditions it was felt it would be better to leave lawn seed sowing until the weather had warmed up in March. Water was lying on top of the current soil due to the frozen ground conditions just below the top of the soil. Work on the pond and associated beach could not be finished as the surface was frozen. The level of the pond still had to be raised to hide all signs of visible liner and the waterfall tested. Gravel had been added to the areas surrounding the pond and the adjacent patio, however, the borders directly to the left and right of the pond were also covered in gravel. This was a mistake made by the contractor which would have to be rectified. It was also felt that the beach contained too much grey stones and not enough buff colour which therefore did not blend as well as was desired into the associated gravel area. Some upright sleepers were positioned to screen the boiler to the rear of the pond. As access had to be maintained to allow maintenance at a future date, they seem very high and exposed but it is intended to plant high bamboos and grasses to the left of the right of the sleepers which should help them settle into there surroundings more naturally. The garden seems very stark at the moment due to the lack of a lawn and planting. Unfortunately, due to the continued cold weather it was felt that it would be better to also delay any planting in the garden until the weather improved.

Wicklow Garden Under Construction

24 Jan 2011

Work on the garden in Wicklow began just before the bad weather arrived in November. About a weeks worth of work was completed and then work had to be abandoned until after Christmas. As it is located in an inland area of Wicklow the roads proved inaccessible in the snowy conditions and additionally, it is very difficult to construct a garden when there is such a major covering of snow. The upright sleeper wall had been constructed, it is an S-shaped wall intended to camouflage the top of the septic tank which is located behind the highest part. There was also an ESB pole in this area directly in sight of the house. As this problem was going to take years to camouflage with trees it was agreed with the ESB to move the pole to the back of the site behind and then bring in the cable underground. The landscaper agreed to provide a duct for this purpose during construction. This additional work was obviously expensive, however, well worth the expense involved. On the topic of electricity note in the photo to the left a line of small stones on the ground. I asked the owner of the garden to mark the route of any existing electrical cable to ensure that the exact location was visible to the landscaper. It is very important to always be aware of electrical cable while construction work is in progress. Good progress was also made on the construction of the sandstone patio which is located at the rear of the garden beside the pond. It is to be surrounded by a bed of gravel and will allow one to enjoy the the sunshine whilst admiring the waterfall and pond.

Garden Design for Wicklow Garden

17 Jan 2011

The design creates a garden in sympathy with its surroundings and blends it seamlessly into the beautiful countryside beyond with no visible additional boundaries. The existing elements in the garden will be enhanced and integrated into the new design and all the elements of rock, water, wood and plants will be used to create a garden which is in balance with itself and its surroundings. A curving sinuous lawn wraps around the centre of the garden surrounding an S-shaped upright sleeper wall which decreases in height. This sleeper wall camouflage's the top of the septic tank and creates two planting areas in its curves. A wide shrub border is proposed on the western boundary through which snake a number of gravel paths to enable access into the border for maintenance and to admire the plants. It is intended in the longer term that garden sculpture can be placed at the intersections of the paths to create focal points. This will be mainly planted with attractive low maintenance shrubs and will blend the garden into the western countryside. A set of indian sandstone steps laid in a gravel bed wrap around the back and eastern side of the garden, leading down to a patio, pond and waterfall at the rear of the garden. There will be scattered planting of grasses and small groups of rocks throughout the gravel to soften the effect. The pond and waterfall will be surrounded by lush planting to integrate these features into the backdrop and make them appear natural. The existing pergola and deck will be removed from the garden.

Wicklow Garden Under Construction

11 Jan 2011

Work on this garden was started before Christmas but progress has been slow due to the weather conditions. The Garden is located in a beautiful area in the Wicklow countryside with wonderful views on the west side of the surrounding countryside. The cottage central to the garden has been renovated and is finished in stone and brick. The immediate area to the front of the garden had been finished in sandstone and slate walls and a natural stone wall had been built along the east side and end of the garden to support a bank creating a reasonably flat garden in the rear. Additionally, a deck had been completed on the west side of the cottage overlooking the wonderful views. These features were all good, creating a good base to work from, however, an unattractive pergola and underlying deck with associated round pond had been built at the end of the garden. They looked like they had just been dropped into the garden with no thought of integrating them into the rest of garden. The rest of the garden was rough ground or overgrown grass with an ESB pole and septic tank clearly visible and central to the garden creating quiet an eyesore. The challenge of creating a design for this garden involved integrating in the existing features, including deciding what to keep and what to remove, camouflaging the septic tank and ESB pole and making the best of the wonderful surrounding countryside. Proposed Design The proposed design creates a garden in sympathy with its surrounding which blends seemlessly with the landscape beyond, creating no artificial boundaries. The elements within the existing garden will be enhanced and integrated into a new design using the elements of rock, wood and water to create a garden which is relaxing to be within and in harmony with it surroundings.

Greystones garden under construction - Standing Stone installed

11 Jan 2011

We added one of the last features to the Greystones garden just before Christmas. It was a standing stone made of granite positioned directly outside the conservatory doors. A very attractive feature in this part of the garden which is on direct view from the conservatory, particularly at night when it will be up lit from below. However, we feel that the stone is very stark at the moment and intend to add some grasses around it to soften its effect and blend it into the rest of the garden.

Greystones Garden Under Construction

30 Dec 2010

We just about got this garden planted before the big snow arrived. I couldn't believe it was so cold at the time of planting but definitely did not expect snow with 1 day of having completed the planting. As it has never snowed in November in my recollection I am hoping that the effect on the plants will be minimun. This garden is very close to the sea and that should keep it milder. Additionaly, most of the plants planted are hardy in this country. The only plant I am worried about is the Dicksonia antartica, a tree fern. These ferns have survived many winters in Irish conditions when planted near the coast but technically they are not hardy in this country. The planting in this garden was designed on the basis of different themes depending on the area of the garden. The raised bed surrounding the BBQ was planted with plants which should survive dry and sunny conditions as raised beds are often very well drained. Plants included Lavender, Convolvulus and Aubretia. The border from the raised bed towards the shed starts as a sunny herbaceous border with Agapanthus, Delphiniums and Lupins and becomes more tropical nearer the shed with Bamboo's and Ferns. The shed is surrounded by bamboo's to screen it and the area to the right of the shed behind the deck has a grassy planting scheme with some complimentary plants including Verbena bonariensis and Nepeta. Finally, to the right of the garden the border there is very shady and small shrubs have been selected for this area including Azelea's and Viburnum davidii. The garden is not yet finished as a standing stone has been ordered for a prominent position directly opposite the double doors into the conservatory and Bamboo screens have also to be provided to provide a backdrop for the grassy area behind the curved deck.

Greystones Garden Under Construction

22 Nov 2010

We wanted to paint the deck in the garden in greystones a very dark shade and had searched many deck stains. It was difficult to find such a shade and in the end we used the Cuprinol colour 'Cedar Fall'. It is perhaps, from what we had in mind, a touch too red as opposed to nearly black which was our original intention but we are still pleased with it. It is important to note that it can always be re-stained darker if we do find an better colour later whereas it would be a lot more work to try to lighten a darker stain later if we found it too dark! The raised walls have been cladded in grey slate and the slate capping is in prgress. The Ivy which is on the fence was causing some discussion as we were proposing to remove it and paint all the boundary walls black. Black is a wonderful colour as a backdrop on walls and fences in gardens, I know it sounds horrifying, but after a while when the plants in the garden start to grow it sets them off beautifully and in the long term will fade into the background. Meet Barry who is doing most of the (hard!) work in this garden.

Greystones Garden Under Construction

16 Nov 2010

Despite the wet weather, progress is good on the garden in Greystones. The deck has been fitted in the centre of the garden and the blocks for the outer wall of the raised border have also been completed. The raised bed adjacent to the conservatory was originally made from sleepers but had eroded badly over the years. A matching slate clad wall was also been built to replace this. It was used originally as a herb bed but had been overtaken by mint which is very invasive. Never plant mint in a border, to keep it under control always keep it in a pot. A problem had arisen beside the shed where water was sitting on the surface even after a day of no rain. This is a sign of a lack of drainage and will make it very difficult to grow any plants in this area. As this was to be planted with bamboo's and grasses this problem needed to be resolved. It is often caused simply by compaction but to be ensure the problem was definitely overcome, two large holes were dug and filled with gravel to provide a sump for the water and the whole area was well dug. This solution appears to have reduced the problem considerably.

Greytones Garden Under Construction

9 Nov 2010

Work has started on the Garden in Greystones. All the existing large shrubs have been removed and physical construction of the hard landscaping has commenced. Work on the raised bed which is proposed to provide a designated area for the BBQ is underway. This raised bed has been set at 400mm high and will be capped in liscannor which will enable the person bbqing to use the wall as a rest to sit on. It will be faced with grey slate panels to blend with the liscannor capping and paving. The base of the deck is under construction and is starting to show its shape. It is very important for the base to be absolutely level to ensure a good foundation for the decking. Granite cobbles are proposed as edging between the borders and the gravel and are been built to the same height as the deck which will be 100mm higher than the gravel and existing liscannor paving.

Greystones Garden Under Construction

4 Nov 2010

In this blog I intend to show the progress on gardens I have designed. Existing Garden This garden is in Greystones, Co Wicklow and was originally built some years ago. The original design and structure were quiet good, however, over the years the shrubs and trees in the garden have overtaken a lot of the space and the garden appears much smaller than it is. The clients wanted to reclaim some space in the garden and update the design. Proposed Garden Design The proposed design will use the existing design as a base and enhance it by the addition of a new deck, backed up by a bamboo screen, bamboo plants and soft grass like planting. The design simplifies the current design and makes it appear more spacious by removing all the large shrubs with the exception of the wall shrubs. It will become more contemporary with cleaner lines and more structured planting areas. The area around the shed has been reclaimed by rerouting the access to the back of the shed via a step of stepping stones around an existing tree. A feature standing stone will be added to the garden directly opposite the double doors into the conservatory to add a focal point in this part of the garden. A dedicated BBQ area will be provided surrounded by a low slate cladded wall which will be planted with soft shrubs and perennials to effectively screen this area.