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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Garden colds

Environmental conditions have changed abruptly: day time temperatures have tumbled to below 10°C in a spell of unseasonable cold weather, skies are in the main dull with some sunny spells, the wind has picked up, and we have even had a spot of rain  - although, this is welcome to thirsty plants.  Fortunately, being in a coastal garden, we have had no frost but, under this new weather forecast, my Amelanchier blossom is starting to drop in protest. And, to top-it-off, I have come down with a cold that has kept...

Read More

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...

Read More

Parched March

If someone had told me that I was going to be out with my watering can before the end of March this time last year, I would have told them to go indoors and take a strong dose of a reality pill, extra strength brand for crazy gardening folk!  But what a contrast between this year and last! The Irish spring heat wave has continued and yes, last night, I was out-watering both newly divided perennials recently planted and plants in containers that were starting to wilt in the heat due...

Read More