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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Tim to open the northwest’s gardening extravaganza!

[caption id="attachment_2799" align="aligncenter" width="504"] Tim and Diarmuid Gavin open the northwest garden show in 2011[/caption] I'm heading up to the northwest again this weekend to visit the wonderful and vibrant North West Garden Show that is held in Castlefinn, Donegal (and I have to say that this is one of Ireland’s most dynamic communities - it is fantastic what they pull together each year mainly through the work of a dedicated hardcore of volunteers). [caption id="attachment_2800" align="aligncenter" width="504"] It's not all about plants at the garden show![/caption] This will be the third year...

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Garden design tip 4: paving, part B

When it comes to picking stone for your garden personal choice and taste is important but you should also consider how the stone will fit in with what you already have. [caption id="attachment_1907" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Front garden design (by Tim Austen) featuring granite setts and kerbs to tie-in with the granite windowsills of the house.  Colour of gravel also complements the red-brick of the house.[/caption] A good starting point is your house: the colour and finishes on your house should be used as a guide for materials selection for the garden.  For...

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Bee-friendly garden design

[caption id="attachment_1886" align="aligncenter" width="491"] Tim's bee pic. from his biodiversity study[/caption] Having undertaken a  study of biodiversity in Dublin's gardens a few years back,  I am a fan of any garden design that encourages more wildlife habitat in to our gardens.  So, I am looking forward to seeing the University of Leed's bee-friendly garden at Chelsea this year.  Their top-tips for encouraging bees in to your garden are given on their website and include: Bees love to nest in logs, crumbling walls and woody undergrowth Resist the urge to clear away rotting wood,...

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Garden design tip 3: Surveying your plot

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480"] The Big Year (Image source Film Ireland)[/caption] Under our current spell of weather with its punishing, blustery winds and sharp rain, the least likely thing to be on your mind is the thought of carrying out a survey of your garden.  But if you are mulling over the idea of a garden redesign this summer, then it is something you are going to have to do.  I find having a plan of the existing garden is really the only way to visualise what sort of design changes are...

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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 design clinics

'Clinic' - there's that medical overtone again in regard to garden design advice that I am not sure about; but anyway, that aside, the GLDA are hosting some garden design advice days as part of the Bloom fringe over the coming weeks.  Press release, as follows: "Good news for gardeners in Dublin, Kildare, Limerick and Cork: free design advice from experienced garden designers is being given at selected garden centres who are holding design clinics as part of a new initiative called Bloom Fringe. ‘The Chelsea Fringe is an enormous event across...

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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...

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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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