My bloom journey is underway!

[caption id="attachment_3060" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Giardino della mostra by Tim Austen for Bloom 2013[/caption] I am all of a flutter about Bloom 2013 having just uploaded the details about my show garden on to the official Bloom in the park website and apparently there are only 30 days to go before the event opens! Giardino della mostra or “garden of exhibits,”  - I think it reads wonderfully in Italian and I look forward to hearing it enunciated by Italian visitors to the show - is a County Wicklow inspired garden supported by Gardenworld,...

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Garden design enrichment – get it now!

A timely reminder, if you don’t mind, that the seminal Irish garden design event of 2013 (Bloom in the Park excepted) is taking place this weekend in Blanchardstown, Dublin. If you live in Ireland or indeed the UK and you are interested in what’s new in garden design then I would urge you to attend the Garden and Landscape Design Association's seminar Simply Gardens…Design Inspiration for your Soul’. This is the seventeenth successive annual design gathering held by the GLDA, which is no mean feat in these straightened times. [caption id="attachment_3034" align="aligncenter" width="413"]...

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Spring bulbs! early markers of the garden design year ahead

[caption id="attachment_2975" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Russborough House, Co. Wicklow. Spring bulbs creating a beautiful and colourful floral carpet beneath mature Lime trees[/caption] I was captivated by this colourful display on a weekend break to West Wicklow last week (a garden designers busman's holiday or what?). These beautiful bulbs including snowdrop, winter aconite (yellow) and cyclamen (pink) have been planted in drifts alongside the Lime walkway leading to the walled garden at Russborough House  - a fine Palladian pad, itself worth a visit when it opens from late March. But what a wonderful marker these...

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Tree stakes and ties

[caption id="attachment_2898" align="aligncenter" width="615"] Small tree with adjustable tie[/caption] We are all feeling a bit battered by the recent strong winds here in Ireland.  Spare a thought then for your garden trees, some of which will have felt the worst effects of the wind with branches lost or, worse still, their central leaders (main stems) having snapped. Others may have had their roots torn out of the ground. Good staking of young trees will help to avoid such unfortunate outcomes and will assist a tree through its early establishment years. Although I have...

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Garden hedges using native, wildlife-friendly plants

The weather is a bit windy, wet and wintry here at the moment and maybe the very last thing you are thinking about is the state of your garden.  But if you had been considering a revamp of the garden perimeter with a bit of new planting during the course of last year then you need to know that now is the perfect time of year for planting a new hedge. It’s time to take action because we are currently in the dormant season for deciduous trees and shrubs and this...

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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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‘Tis great to be a garden designer, so it is!

On a beautiful sunny winter's day in Wicklow, it is hard not to be appreciative of the fact that I am a garden designer.  And, it is the variety in my job that I find most fulfilling.  Today, I zipped over to get some paving samples from Ken (from whom I also bought a bag of coal for home), then headed up the road to show these to my client, whose garden we shall be constructing in January. [caption id="attachment_2539" align="aligncenter" width="447"] Plants to be salvaged growing along fence line![/caption] Part of...

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Using perennial flowers in your garden

Autumn is a good time for stocking your garden with new plants.  And when it comes to planting, perennials are the proverbial “box of chocolates” – the choice is almost limitless and they are all so tasty! [caption id="attachment_2451" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Perennial flowers in a client's garden (only one year from planting!)[/caption] There is huge variety in foliage, flowering time and they come back year after year with limited maintenance.  Just cutting back, dead-heading and division.   Perennials can be planted in many different styles – formal contained by box hedging, sweeps and...

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Using trees to create an interesting garden

In my last post I said that I would explain some of the ways in which landscape gardeners use trees in their garden designs.  I have realised that (surprise, surprise) I have got quite a lot to say on this topic! So, I may spread my explanation out over a few posts if that's ok with you? Anyway, let's start with the idea that the reasons for selecting trees for a garden can be broadly attributable to both visual and functional design choices that a designer makes when composing their plan.  The first...

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Planting trees in your garden

[caption id="attachment_2358" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Fabulouos oak tree avenue in Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow[/caption] Yesterday's 'tree day' for schools, organised by the Tree Council of Ireland, got me thinking about how important trees are to the Irish landscape in both a physical and a cultural sense.  Many of our most special trees are part of property boundaries and/or are contained in gardens.  And I feel that it is incumbent on both gardeners and garden designers that we make a worthy contribution to Ireland' stock of trees, whether we are using native or exotic...

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