planting, gardening, gardens, plants, planting, design, special shrubs

Good garden design can be as simple as getting the right plant in the right place

Whilst last week, we looked at some of the graceful floral forerunners of the spring, such as Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis and Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis, if we design our gardens carefully there are other specialist plants that occur naturally at other levels and locations, which can provide us with charming sights and scents. [caption id="attachment_5054" align="alignnone" width="903"] White Helleborus orientalis in bloom in February[/caption] A plant that has been “on-the-go” for quite some time in milder gardens, but which is about to enter its key bloom period, is the Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis...

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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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Catch Helen Dillon in Kenmare!

The fabulously friendly and go-getting Kenmare garden club are having Ireland's premier gardener, Helen Dillon, to speak at their evening event to be held this Thursday, March 6th at 7.30pm sharp in the Carnegie theatre.   I would thoroughly recommend this talk to anyone who is either a keen gardener or who would like to hear an excellent speaker or both.  This is a real treat for all gardening fans, as Helen has been leading the way in Irish gardening with her garden at 45 Sandford Road for quite some time.  An...

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Great autumn perennial plants – Joe Pye Weed

I was delighted to catch Carol Klein extolling the delights of the Eupatorium plant on BBC's Gardeners' World this week having just selected the fantastic variety Eupatorium purpureum subsp. maculatum 'Atropurpureum' or Purple Joe Pye weed for a client of mine. [caption id="attachment_3341" align="aligncenter" width="585"] Eupatorium purpureum (Purple Joe Pye Weed) - pic. taken at Gardenworld[/caption] I was looking for an autumn flowering perennial with impact, suited to a heavy (wet, slightly acidic) soil.  This seems to be the ideal tall flowering perennial.  The flowers are pinky-purple in colour, slightly unusual (not...

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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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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 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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Thoughts on planting design

When it comes to planting design, I respect the view of the nurseryman and horticulturalist.  They know what plants need to grow and be healthy and how they should be handled to best effect.  I do have knowledge in those areas - I have a masters degree in landscape management and a background in landscape contracting and I have done my fair share of garden maintenance (including €0.70p per hour summer jobs in my youth) – and I keep this knowledge in the back of my mind when I am...

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‘Planting Design’ A Garden Designer’s Perspective 15th September, Powerscourt Garden Pavilion Wicklow

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="442"] Image from powerscourt.ie[/caption] In support of Bord Bia’s ‘Autumn Time is Garden Time’ campaign, I will be giving a complimentary talk at the Powerscourt Garden Pavilion on planting design and what plants to choose for your garden this autumn. Did you know that trees, shrubs, roses, heathers, spring bulbs and most flowering plants are best planted in the autumn? I will be sharing my experience of garden design and offer advice on the type and size of plants to use and how to space them to create a...

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Design inspiration, on an Olympic scale!

Garden designers are always looking for design inspiration for their next project.  Most design ideas are stimulated by something a designer will have seen or experienced whether directly related to garden design or not. Another thing that garden designers ought to be doing is keeping on top of developments in the overall profession of garden design.  This can be done by reading garden design books and journals or spending time browsing relevant websites.  Otherwise, visiting constructed garden projects, whether public spaces, private gardens or indeed showgardens, is always a great way of...

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