Amazing azaleas

At this time of year, no blog on garden design would be worth its salt without a post on Rhododendrons .  Alongside the Magnolias these are some of the plants (both trees and shrubs) that lend a real “wow-factor” to spring gardens. My father has always been a “rhodo-fanatic” and having recently moved from a garden in Wicklow with alkaline soil to one in Kerry with acid-peat soil, he is delighted with the results - his Rhododenrons are romping away and producing spectacular flowers. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="240"] Rhodendron macabeanum in Kerry[/caption] Briefly,...

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Plant power!

Here's a few pics to show the impact that a relatively simple planting design can have on the appearance of a building. Before: During: After: The three multi-stemmed trees are Betula pendula multi-stems, height range 5-5.5m.  These were planted as root-balled specimens.   Being on the nothern side of the building the groundcover plants include those tolerant of shade.  The soil is also somewhat wet.  Plants selected included, amongst others: Alchemilla mollis, Astilbe, Bergenia cordifolia, Helleborus orientalis and Caltha palustris with a selection of  Ferns, grasses including Luzula sylvatica with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Tradescantia ‘Red...

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Garden design clinics

'Clinic' - there's that medical overtone again in regard to garden design advice that I am not sure about; but anyway, that aside, the GLDA are hosting some garden design advice days as part of the Bloom fringe over the coming weeks.  Press release, as follows: "Good news for gardeners in Dublin, Kildare, Limerick and Cork: free design advice from experienced garden designers is being given at selected garden centres who are holding design clinics as part of a new initiative called Bloom Fringe. ‘The Chelsea Fringe is an enormous event across...

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Garden design tip 2: paving

If you are contemplating a garden makeover this spring one of the main items of work could be the renewal of your existing paving or indeed, if you have a new garden design, introducing some paving where none existed before (hope that doesn't sound too obvious!).  Thankfully, there is an enormous range of paving materials available to the contemporary garden designer.  In addition to the huge choice of “ready-to-use” concrete paving manufactured by Irish paving suppliers, imported natural stone has become widely available.  This means that an almost bewildering variety...

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Firebush (ensure correct name when googling)!

In garden design there are certain plants that do it every time for me: the Chilean firebush Embothrium coccineum has to be one of my favourite plants.  Although not successful in my own garden, due to our alkaline soil conditions (this is a plant that does well in gardens that have acidic or peaty soils), there are some superb specimens dotted around my locality in Wicklow and I also come across them on my sojourns in Kerry (where this one was recently pictured).  I dragged a small potted plant back...

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Brilliant bluebells!

A carpet of bluebells in deciduous woodland has to be one of the most enchanting sights, at this time of year.  And even if you are neither interested in the botanical nor the ecological value of these plants then surely you can't but be moved by the sheer pleasure of the visual experience.  Many artists have been. I happened across these English bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta to the side of the N71 road just after it leaves Killarney near Muckross.  Covering a huge area underneath some Sycamore trees they were a brake-inducing sight.  And...

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Garden design tip 1

I am conscious of the fact that I haven't really done a specific garden design post to date.  I have been mulling over how to present these.  Shall I just dispense the information in a prescriptive way, like a garden doctor, if you will?  Perhaps in bullet point format: All gardens should have a design style to them Garden designs can be formal or informal Take inspiration from gardens that you have visited No, I think this could get pretty dull and is never going to satisfy either my need to use words or...

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Potato planting: under St. Patrick’s thumb!

It was with some relief that I managed to plant my potatoes last week.  I know - can you believe it? - they were not planted until the 9th of April! Yes, the fact that they had not been planted by the purported St. Patrick's Day planting deadline had been troubling my mind...

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Garden visits: E.H. Wilson memorial garden

[caption id="attachment_1385" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Entrance to Wilson memorial garden[/caption] E.H. Wilson was born in Chipping Campden in 1876.  A small memorial garden to the great plant-hunter can be found there.  Barely noticeable, the garden is accessed through a small arch, which is not much more than a gap in the wall at the northern end of the High Street.  I stumbled across the garden on a walk whilst visiting my grandparents  a year or two ago - I had not known it was there before that. The garden is simple in design...

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Weather forecasting for the garden

It is not my intention that my blog is used as a long term climate recording tool, but the ongoing variability in our weather is so dramatic that I will continue to comment on it as long as I feel it is impacting on the plants in our gardens.  So for the record, today is dry, sunny, but quite cold at c. 8°C. Sadly, my Amelanchier (Juneberry) blooms were completely removed by yesterday's wind, so it will be interesting to see if there will be any fruit on them during the...

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