Sammy the Seal’s 20th Birthday Party and Plant Sale!

This weekend (Sunday the 19th July), we are opening the garden design studio as part of the Wicklow seafood festival to be held on the South Quay, in association with the South Quay Trader's group.   Aside from fabulous fish and seafood delights that will be cooked up by local chefs, we will be having a plant sale. There will be range of perennial flowers and grasses that I frequently use in my garden design projects available for purchase at discount rates.   I will also be offering free garden design consultations from 2-5pm should you...

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Plan a new planting scheme

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="An area of planting can be reworked to create a new garden scene "][/caption] Now is a great time of year to rework an existing planting scheme if you have an established garden.  Quite mature shrubs can be relocated and used as the structural elements in a new arrangement.  This can give tired or mundane parts of the garden a new lift. Plan it out carefully so that the heights and shapes of the main plants work together giving symmetry across the area to create an interesting...

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Fresh foliage provides fabulous effects in the garden!

At this time of year when new shoots are starting to emerge from the soil as bulbs and perennials push skywards, it is good to think about the kinds of effects we want to get from leaves, branches and stems as part of our planting overall compositions; how these might serve to highlight the flowers.   [caption id="attachment_3855" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Foliage combination in one of my show gardens at Bloom (2008)[/caption] Ask a good florist and they will tell you how important the foliage can be alongside the key blooms in any given arrangement; the...

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A garden anywhere

After spotting this planted roof to a bus shelter on Zaragoza's Paseo Independencia, it made me realise (again) that it truly is possible to grow a garden anywhere.  All it takes is a little imagination, some basic horticultural innovation and possibly (as with most gardening scenarios) some perseverance. What's good about this feature is that it adds a new dimension to the street scene.  The additional greenery is a visual bonus, it I am sure helps to a degree with rainwater catchment (reducing the volume of run-off) and the vegetation will...

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Emeralds and the gathering

Gardening trends Gardening, like other design-related professions has its trends.  Sometimes these are created by the horticultural industry itself through clever marketing campaigns.  At other times these fashions reflect wider shifts in the way society is thinking, an example being the recent move towards gardens with a grow-it-yourself element, something of which I am very supportive of as you are well aware. Have  we missed an opportunity with Ireland's "The Gathering" to celebrate our greeness? One thing I am surprised about is that the Irish gardening profession, as a whole, has not capitalised...

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Construction story at Bloom in the park – Giardino della mostra

Ok, so things just got way too busy at Bloom to give you the rest of the updates on construction.  Apologies!  We obviously finished on time, thanks to huge efforts and ridiculously long hours over many days from all the team involved - I think we broke my previous record for length of time on site at Bloom on any one day with a cracking 17 hours of work put in by 12 people on the Thursday - but it was all worth it as we had a great show with...

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Coppicing trees in the garden and coppice woodlands

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="615"] Mature coppice in Herefordshire[/caption] Whilst I was working with the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) a number of years ago (quite a number actually!), I completed a super training course in woodland crafts at the Greenwood Trust in Ironbridge, Shropshire.  Since then, I am in the habit of advocating coppicing not only as a useful and productive way of managing woodlands (of all sizes) but also as a method for controlling the size of trees  in small gardens, especially where space is at a premium but the...

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Building a show garden at Bloom in the Park, Dublin

This day, three years ago, I finished my second large show garden at Bloom in the Park at precisely 8am in the morning when all garden designers are firmly ejected from the build area by exhibition staff. Show gardens are huge undertakings involving serious personal commitment by the garden designer and also by the close team of people that they have around them during the build stage and also during the show.  It’s a mammoth task for all involved and I know that I am eternally grateful to all those people...

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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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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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