It is wonderful to see gardens in other countries when we travel. The differing cultures and climates means gardens of many different styles often with exotic plants which we would not see in our own country. As we have to take our holidays in the winter, travelling further south is required to get better weather. As a result, this year we went to Morocco.
We stayed in Marrakech, which is renowned for its beautiful gardens which are often mini oases filled with fountains and beautifully cared for gardens, symbols of paradise. The most famous of which must be Jardin Marjorelle which is very beautiful and filled with lovely fountains, and well maintained plantings of Palms, Bamboo's and Cactus. It is also famous for its use of colour in the garden, particularly the Marjorelle Blue, which is very striking particularly in the strong summer light which creates a wonderful contrast of light and shade. For me, however, it was a bit too busy. I can't image what it would be like during the busy season!
My most favourite garden would have to be Le Jardin Secret, which is difficult to find as it is tucked away in the back of the Medina, amidst the Souks. However, it is well worth the effort as it is a haven of peace and tranquility within a very busy part of the town. The garden is divided into two distinct and very different gardens, the Islamic Garden and the Exotic Garden. The style and planting of both are both very different with the Exotic garden featuring plants from many exotic locations in the world laid out in a seemingly random rectangular pattern. Whereas the Islamic garden is laid out in a geometric pattern with a central Gazebo and rill running through the middle with mini fountains in each of the quadrants. The planting is very simple with Olive Trees, Rosemary hedges, Lavender and ornamental grasses. The effect is amazingly soothing and I could have sat there all day.
The last garden we visited, Anima, was located outside Marrakech,
approximately 45min drive towards the Altlas mountains. However, it is well worth the journey. It is laid out with a serious of paths crossing through well tended plantings of varying styles and amazing garden features set against the snow capped tops of the Atlas mountains. The Features are so colourful, the effect is startling which is particularly good with the strong blue sky of Morocco.
This garden design was completed for a garden in the lovely seaside town of Greystones, Co Wicklow. The house was a new build situated right in the centre of the town so space was at a premium and the house was positioned central within the site with the gardens wrapping around all sides.
A generous parking area was allowed at the front of the house with the parking area finished in permeable paving complimented by granite cobbles edging the flower beds running alongside the house and granite steps at the entrance.
The large patio to the rear of the house was finished in porcelain tiles to compliment the interior decor offset by decorative gravel and raised borders finished in quartz walling stone. A natural water feature was built into one corner over two levels backed up by tropical style planting including tree ferns and bamboo's.
Two lawns softened the hard landscaping, one at each side of the garden which were backed up by quartz finished raised borders running around the perimeter filled with attractive trees and shrubs.
Some level changes had to be incorporated into the design due to the level changes across the site and within the house which worked out well.
This garden was beautifully designed by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Exhibition Landscapes.
This is the ideal garden design for anyone that loves to entertain. If features a wonderful integrated BBQ for al fresco cooking adjacent to a beautiful outdoor fireplace for keeping warm on summers evenings after the sun has set. Built in seating surrounds this part of the garden design so that the cook can have company whilst the guests bask in the heat of the fireplace.
The upper deck is spacious with room for lounging furniture beside a built in jacuzzi. The deck is surrounded by frame less glass balustrading which blocks any winds but allows the lovely views down to the sea to still be admired while enjoying a dip in the jacuzzi.
The upper level of the garden design is finished in grey composite decking which connects directly into the main living areas of this period house and is contrasted with the lower level which is finsihed in grey granite complemented by a gorgeous purple shade to finish the hard landscaping.
This wonderful garden design was created as an addition to an existing garden to more seemlessly connect the house to the garden and to draw you out to enjoy the garden itself and the views beyond.
A small water feature positioned in the alcove of the house, surrounded by a few select plants, added just the right finishing touch to this amazing garden design.
Finally, to cap it all, mood LED strip lighting is fitted at the base of the glass balustrading and under the overhangs of the BBQ, the seats and the steps creating a wonderful atmosphere at night.
This garden was beautifully designed by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by Exhibition Landscapes
This very structured contemporary Garden Design uses straight lines and modern sharp materials to produce a gorgeous Garden Design for a young couple in their first home. The garden is located in a new housing development, near Greystones, in north County Wicklow and was just completed recently. The main paving material used in this garden design is gorgeous oatmeal granite which both finishes the patio adjacent to the house where a dining table is situated and the patio at the end of the garden where built in seating has been provided. The garden design features a rectangular central lawn surrounded by a wide border of oatmeal granite paving to edge the lawn and a stepping stone path to the end patio. Wide borders of flowering plants flank each side of the lawn. A slight rise in the ground level of the garden has been used to create two bullnosed steps within the garden to give interest, one up to the lawn nearest the house and one upto the patio from the lawn at the end of the garden. Raised beds positioned at opposite corners give some additional height to the garden. They are finished in plastered walls and are capped in granite to compliment the patio's. A free standing wall screening a garden shed at the end of the garden provids a backdrop for three pots in a row filled with box balls. Finally, in order to ensure that the garden has a good backdrop, the rear wall has been plastered and painted dark grey to compliment the window finishes of the house itself. Beautifully designed and planted by Willow Garden Design and expertly constructed by DJ Landscapes,
This Garden Design transformed a boring unused rectangular garden, mostly finished in grass, into an attractive contemporary garden which the owner is just dying to sit out in and enjoy. The design is based on inter locking rectangular spaces with two lawns interconnected but separated by a row of cobbles. Travertine is the main paving material used in this garden design, together with portuguese granite cobbles.
The path adjacent to the house is finished in travertine paving together with a small patio, surrounded by low growing plants, in the west facing corner of the garden. A set of stepping stones, which are a feature in themselves, lead through the lawn down the garden to the shed, which is neatly hidden behind a free-standing wall built to its fore. This wall, together with the rear wall have been plastered and painted an off white colour which will be lit up in the evenings with lights from below to give a very attractive view from the house. Three pots filled with black Phormiums, to match the fences and Pergola, have been positioned to the fore of the free-standing wall, creating a beautiful feature within the garden which is viewable from the windows of the house.
A pergola has been built adjacent to the fence nearer the end of the garden on the same side as the patio, which is used to suspend two cocoon style rattan seats to provide a lovely space to relax in and enjoy the garden. Borders have been created around the perimeter of the garden finished in minimalistic contemporary style plantings and surrounded by a decorative gravel mulch to help reduce maintenance. The fences on both sides of the garden have been painted a dark grey shade to provide a good backdrop to the garden and help the boundaries of the garden recede into the background. The pergola has also been painted in the same dark grey to provide a contemporary finish to its design and contrast with wth off white walls.
The owner of this garden is very happy with her garden and is looking forward to the summer enjoying being outside. She said:
"My garden is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful consulting, design, horticulture expertise, support and advise you gave me on totally reinventing my garden. You have done an amazing job, and put so much time into understanding what design and planting would work for me and I am delighted with the tailored end result. It has been a wonderful experience working with you.........Brenda"
This contemporary garden design for a back garden was developed for a family living in a newly built large detached house in an urban area of Co Wicklow, Ireland. The house itself was very modern with large living areas overlooking the garden and the family wanted to be able to enjoy the garden design when viewed from both within the house and when outside. They wanted a garden design which complimented the house and which enticed them outside to enjoy.
The garden design makes use of all areas of the garden by developing a patio adjacent to the house to be enjoyed in the early part of the day and also a sunken patio in the far corner where the setting sun can be enjoyed in the latter part of the day to be used for evening dining. The patio's are finished in tumbled yellow limestone which blends with the brick in the house wonderfully and is both contemporary but warm. The patio adjacent to the house links to garden paths which wrap around the back of the house and link to a path to a shed in the far corner of the garden which is screened by a very attractive cedar lath fence complimented by bamboo's.
A dedicated space was allowed for a BBQ on the patio nearest the house set adjacent to the boundary, which is to be covered with a modern contemporary style pergola to match a similar design surrounding the sunken patio. Raised borders finished in clean rendered off white walls surround the BBQ and the sunken patio to add to the contemporary style of the garden design and to add interest by introducing changes in level.
A water feature set against a stone clad wall and L-shaped raised bed at the end of the garden, together with a fire pit to the fore and built in garden seating provides a wonderful vista to be enjoyed from both within the garden and when viewed from the main living spaces of the house. To break up the lawn and allow access to the features at the end of the garden, a stepping stone garden path was built across the rectangular lawn linking all areas of the garden to complete the design.
Sometimes simplicity is the best approach to Garden Design. There is always the temptation to try to add in too much, which does not always give the best result. This is particularly true for Contemporary garden design, which is often minimal with clean sharp lines and structured planting.
In this garden just outside Dublin in Ratoath, the house was been extended and took over most of the previous garden, leaving a garden which was not very deep but still had good width. The new extention to the house had windows to the rear overlooking the garden across most of its width, leaving a garden which was going to be on complete view from the main living areas of the house all year around.
The clients wanted a garden which was an extension of their home which would look good all year around and which included a lounging area, a lawn and a children's play area. We designed a very structured contemporary garden based on simple rectangular shapes for them which flowed seemlessly from the house. It features a patio area at the sunniest end of the garden for lounging and dining finished in gorgeous egyptian limestone to give a clean sharp look. A rectanglar lawn was created adjacent to the patio which was also surrounded by a border of limestone to give a clean edge and to create an attractive feature in itself to be admired from the house. The border of limestone continues adjacent to the house blending into a path runnning along the side of the house creating a pattern of rectangular shapes within the garden.
A raised border and adjacent wall at right angles in the corner of the patio created an attractive backdrop for the lounging / dining set. The clients wanted to keep as many of the mature trees / shrubs at the end of the garden as possible for screening, so a long narrow border was created along the rear of the garden. Additional screening was also provided by adding some height to the top of the wall with cedar laths running horizontally, which together with rendering the concrete block wall provides a lovely back drop to the whole garden. Two spaces have been left along the back boundary of the garden for the positioning of some garden sculpture at a later date.
Finally, a children's play space was created at the other end of the garden which was finished in brown rubber mulch. This gives a lovely natural finish to this area and an appearance very similar to bark mulch. The plan for this area in the long term when the children are grown is convert this space into another complimentary lawn.
A sloped garden may at first appear to be a difficult situation, however, slopes when taken advantage of in a Garden Design can create possibilities and great interest. They are challenging but force you to create designs which exploit them to build features into a garden which may otherwise not have been possible. It is difficult to use areas in a garden which are sloped so for patio's and other areas which require a flat surface terracing is the only option.
In this garden, constructed this year in Dalkey, Co Dublin, the slope was significant creating a very challenging garden to both design and construct. The house itself was upside down, with the living space on the 1st floor, which due to the slope had direct access to the rear garden via a balcony and patio finished in lovely warm, yellow limestone. The garden was divided into three levels, seperated by donegal quartz curving stone walls which supported each level and connected by a set of steps up one side of the garden which were also finished in yellow limestone, beautifully complimenting the quartz stone. Even with the three retaining walls, the lawns were still sloped slightly to take up some more of the difference in levels. A number of other features were added to the garden to create further interest including a pergola to span the steps mid way up and a recessed seat set into the highest of the walls to create a lovely feature at this level.
Coupled with gorgeous planting, there is no doubt that as a result of these challenges, a very beautiful garden was created which will give years of enjoyement to the new owners.
Using traditional bricks in a garden design gives a lovely warm finish which works very well in lots of settings, from built up urban areas to larger traditional country gardens. We designed this garden which was completed recently in the Crumlin area of Dublin. The owners were keen gardeners but their existing garden was a garden of filled with pots of flowering plants.
They wanted to build a new garden with lots of room for plants which was not only warm and inviting but functional as well, so that they could enjoy their hobby of gardening. So, we gave them lots of raised borders for plants and also an outdoor sink for washing those pots and space for a greenhouse.
They wanted to use bricks on the walls and ground. However, using traditional bricks on the ground is not recommended by the brick manufacutures as water lying on the ground can cause damage to the bricks over time. So, we choose a lovely brick for the walls and then matched it with a paving block suitable for the ground. It worked reallly well and the owners are very happy with their new garden which arrived just in time for the summer!
Winter is a quite time in the garden and a lot of people would not think that there are many plants worth looking at during this time of the year. However, there are some plants which look their best during the winter and if you want to have a garden with all year around interest then you should consider adding some of these to your garden.
I visited recently the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, UK which it claims has the largest winter garden in Europe. It has been designed to display attractively plants which are at their best between November and March. This is the time of the year where form and texture in the garden can be most appreciated and evergreen plants are essential to maintain a backbone. Plants which have beautifully coloured bark, like Cornus (Dogwood) and Betula (Birch) can be set off attractively against a carpet of evergreen low growing foliage. One of the best flowering perennials for the winter is Helleborus (Hellebores) and in a winter garden you cannot be without at least one of these, however, they come in many colours and if you have space a large swath of Hellebores in winter is a wonderful sight.
Shrubs which flower in the winter include Hamamelis, Daphe, Viburunum and Sarcocca. Some of these have wonderful scent which is best appreciated if they are planted adjacent to a path. Bulbs are essential in late winter including Snowdrops and Cyclamen which are wonderful under planting mature deciduous trees where little else will grow. Heathers are a plant which some people do not like, however, they are evergreen, flower in winter, are available in lots of colours and when planted in mass can produce great structure and colour in the garden in winter.
Come late winter some of the best flowering shrubs are at their best, including Camelia's, some Magnolias and Rhododendrons.
Every garden should have at least a few plants which are planted for winter interest, however, make sure you plant them where you can see them in the winter. Do not plant them at the end of the garden, as you won't venture that far when the weather is not good. Plant them, near the house, maybe in the front garden, where they can be appreciated when they are at their best.