great, gardens, Catalonia, Guell, Parc, steep, slopes, landscape design, garden design history

Taking a Step into the New Year… and the Garden

As we step into the new year, the topic of steps is in our mind; not the British pop band from the late 90’s but actual steps! Why have them, where and what are they for?

Steps perform a functional necessity as a means of addressing any level changes but also provides a design opportunity introducing a bespoke and unique approach that links the overall aesthetic,  atmosphere and elements of the garden together.

Steps can be grand, bold and striking, drawing the eye and physical self immediately to them with a clear purpose and intent to arrive upon the designated destination as yet unseen. Or secretive, coquettish and full of intrigue as they transition with a subtle change of direction, partially obscured by rich foliage and planting to be highly rewarded on arriving in the carefully curated space.

Steps have been present throughout the history of garden design and have been evidenced as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the early 6th Century. King Nebuchadnezzar II defied the ‘norm’ and created an array of interconnecting multi-level raised terraces adorned and filled with plants of varied size, shape and form. This feat was driven by the desire to soothe his desperately homesick wife and provide a space that would represent her native mountainous home of Media (now modern Iran). The presence and functionality of steps continue to present themselves in a variety of forms throughout the ages, evolving eras and ranging regions of the globe.

We are lucky to be able to visit and see iconic historical gardens that have been carefully preserved and maintained across Europe, Asia and then some. From grand engineering feats of enormous and intricate staircases, adjoining water fountains, plinths and statues that cut through the landscape dramatically to more romantic, elegant and whimsical invitations leading us into smaller garden rooms or down to secret grottos and pools below.

One of the most iconic examples in Ireland is our very own Powerscourt Estate and Gardens found within the luscious greens and rolling landscapes of County Wicklow. The Italian inspired garden presents a dramatic staircase bringing the visitor gently down through the terraces towards the key focal point of the pond and fountain. From the viewing platform wide and detailed steps branch out in different directions providing a slow and gentle meander taking in the views that have been carefully curated and managed. Bring your eyes down to your feet and take in the intricacies of the detailed cobble design, it is incredible. From its first lain stone in 1843 it is wonderful to see how this fine example of design and execution has resisted thus far the challenges of time to still be appreciated today.

The intricate patterns created on the steps of the Powerscourt House and Gardens.

Modern garden designers continue to take inspiration from these achievements and be influenced to push the creative boundaries providing a bespoke style in new and modern ways that addresses more than just functionality. A recently completed project in Dunmore East is an interesting example that demonstrates how we successfully married need, desire and functionality. More about how this project was approached and achieved can be found on https://www.timaustengardendesigns.com/garden_design_portfolio/garden-near-the-sea/ .

So, take a step back, look at the bigger picture and seize the opportunity to design your garden with a unique and bespoke approach. If you would like to contact us about taking a step forward with your garden, please click here https://www.timaustengardendesigns.com/contact-us/ and we will be in touch.

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