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...

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A well placed rock can create a focal point in a garden design, can act as a garden seat or simply complement garden planting

This Rocks!

The humble rock, stones, boulders; whatever you want to call them, we are surrounded by these features daily either as natural or constructed features. Be it the pebbles on the beach or a cobblestoned Temple Bar, rocks have an undeniable omnipresence. However, they are perhaps overlooked as a garden feature. Here are some of the elements that one could consider when planning to use stone in a garden design. Use of stone to create interest and contrast in one of my small garden designs in Dublin The above picture of a garden...

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formal rose gardens, roses, box hedging, pots, paths, stonework

Visit to Ballintubbert gardens

[caption id="attachment_5169" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The grand canal water feature at Ballintubbert[/caption] In the summer, our design studio took a study tour to visit some gardens across the southwest of Ireland.  En route to Cork, we stopped to have a look at a fascinating, complex, garden that has recently been reinvigorated near Stradbally in Co. Laois. Ballintubbert House, is a garden of around 14 acres, consisting of multiple garden ’rooms’ of various sizes, surrounding a Georgian manor house.  It is documented that pilgrimages were made to Ballintubbert (the name comes from the Irish...

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garden, designs, Australian, plants, irish, gardens, acacia

Gardens and plants from down under!

Much of the time, we take our trees and plants for granted, never thinking too deeply about where they are from.  I have mentioned the importance of native plants in several previous blogs but in our modern Irish landscape, we see plants from every part of the world. One of the most striking plant groups are those from the Antipodes (continent of Australia and New Zealand). When we think of Australian plants, possibly the best known is the Eucalyptus for its striking bark and grey-blue foliage and bright flowers.  Many large...

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garden, design, colour, splash, big, blue, pot, feature

Crazy about colour!

It may sound obvious but colour in the garden can come from both the plants themselves but also the materials that we construct the garden from.  The colours that we choose to use in our gardens can have both personal significance related to our experiences, whether obvious or subconscious memories, but may reflect deeper meanings related to the societies in which we live.  There are also historical associations with certain colours and some have political and religious connotations e.g. red for Labour Day or green for St. Patrick’s Day.  Human...

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European gardens, garden, tours, Italian, villas, houses

Taking your Garden to new heights!

Dealing with Levels in Garden Design In a board or card game, sometimes it can feel like you have been dealt the worst possible hand and yet sometimes starting from a seeming position of disadvantage can actually see the game play into your hands; as it unfolds new opportunities arise that you did not think were possible, you get creative, you exploit and then you come out on top.  In garden design, we are sometimes dealt these difficult hands, none perhaps more so than the steeply sloping site.  Yet, with a...

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Seminar Promotion: The Designed Garden – An unfinished canvas

As a full Member of the GLDA,  Tim Austen garden designs are proud to promote the upcoming 22nd International Garden Design Seminar to be held on Saturday 17th February 2018 at Crowne Plaza Dublin, Northwood Park, Santry, Dublin 9.  Synopsis As designers and gardeners, we are very aware that our gardens are only as good as their subsequent maintenance. Every time we prune and clip and cultivate in an effort to maintain control, we are forcibly reminded of the dynamic and unpredictability of Mother Nature. Much focus is given to show gardens and instant makeovers, but...

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concept garden design tim austen irish designer ireland

Plan your garden design

So, you’ve watched the garden makeover programmes on TV, read the garden magazines, you’ve Googled garden designers and famous gardens in Ireland and across the world, you’ve used Facebook and Instagram to find those wow garden images and you’ve put them all together on your Pinterest account.  You know what you want and you’re ready to get the garden designed.  You deserve congratulations at this stage, as you will have put concerted effort and significant time into getting to this point.  What’s next? The next big step will be for you...

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planting design, gardening, plants, design

Keep gardening, the more so in retirement!

A couple of things have made me think about how important gardens and gardening are to the retired. Firstly, looking at the way my parents have enjoyed developing a brand new garden in County Kerry (from scratch) and how this has in many ways defined many of their recreational habits and interests in their retirement, from attending the local garden group, to plant hunting their favourite plants from nurseries in Ireland and the UK to physically spending pleasurable hours in the garden undertaking all sorts of frenetic horticultural activity; it sometimes...

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planting, water feature, garden design, irish, designer, plants, planting

It’s all about the plants, the plants!

One thing that strikes me, when I think of the portfolio of gardens that we have designed and installed this year, is that whilst the practical aspects of the design are of the utmost importance - surfaces, levels, materials selection are all key parts of garden design that I spend a great deal of time pondering about and which are needed to make the garden work - the selection and planting of the gardens at the end of the construction period still remains the most satisfying.  Furthermore, it is this...

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