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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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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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 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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Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

The garden has been battered by near gale force winds for the past twenty- four hours. The blossom has been stripped from the trees, foliage has been flattened and debris lies scattered across the garden. I am residing indoors nursing my cold; doing some garden design sketches, at least. Nonetheless, I have not been able to avoid making a couple of trips to the community garden/allotments, where I am supervising a man with a digger. So, I have felt the full force of the wind on my face and this has...

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Joys of Juneberry!

As a garden designer, one has to have a store of ready answers to often asked gardening questions.  These need to be confidently rolled off the tongue, without hesitation, to instil client confidence in your abilities.  I find that some practice is required here as the right answer may differ significantly between gardens, depending on the particular conditions found there, and with variance in client likes and expectations.  I also find that my answers change with experience so a review every now and then is worthwhile. [caption id="attachment_980" align="alignleft" width="600"] Snowy...

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How to plant bare-root trees

http://youtu.be/l7mdP1KDN_Y Since it is now the bare-root tree planting season, I thought I would post a video demonstrating this planting technique that I made with the residents of Harbour View in late winter 2010. We carried out the tree planting using young trees called whips and transplants, which means that they are relatively unbranched and are only a year or two old.  Bare-root means that the roots are hanging loose without soil and not in a container or root-balled so they have to be fully dormant at planting.  That is why the...

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Mossy marvels on an Irish woodland floor

As a garden designer, I seek to take inspiration from nature whenever I can.  Last weekend, I took these photos on a lovely walk through a coniferous woodland in Wicklow.  Although the wood was predominantly commercial evergreen species, there were some deciduous species, such as, Birch and Beech  present and understory trees like Holly here and there.  But the most striking thing about this woodland was the beautiful carpet of spongy moss spread throughout. [caption id="attachment_477" align="aligncenter" width="574"] Mossy woodland floor[/caption] [caption id="attachment_484" align="aligncenter" width="594"] Moss close up[/caption] It reminded me that I...

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