Gardenwise | Curl up this Winter with a Garden Classic

Tue, Dec 08, 2020

When I’m not at the drawing board you will find me with my head stuck in a book. If it’s remotely fine and I have time, I’ll be in the garden with a book and a beverage, and surely wood burning stoves were invented for curling up beside in winter with a volume or three?

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Gardenwise | Gifts for Garden Lovers

Mon, Nov 30, 2020

Good news this week if you’re wondering what to buy for the gardener in your life this Christmas– there are lots of lovely things available locally that would be not just useful but very welcome, and with stores opening up you can choose to visit or shop online.

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Gardenwise | Seasonal scents to lift the spirits

Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Anything that makes the garden more inviting in winter has to be a good thing, am I right? So this week I thought we might look at plants with attractive scents for winter – easily overlooked, but worth exploring if you believe, as I do, that a garden should work hard for you for twelve months of the year. Most of the favourites on my list are winter flowering shrubs that will sit quietly in the wings for months until it’s their time to shine – so placing of them needs careful thought. If possible, you want them near the front door, or near a path where you can enjoy the fragrance as you pass – but you might want to combine them with something more decorative for the rest of the year.

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Gardenwise | Winter Stars Get Ready for Their Close-Up

Mon, Nov 16, 2020

This week it feels as though deciduous garden plants are really getting serious about bedtime. The wind and rain of the last few days have brought leaves cascading down, and those still clinging on have turned yellow overnight, as though to signal their intentions. It’s an untidy season, which is probably one of the reasons I don’t like it very much – but it was still good to get outside for an hour at the weekend to begin the clean-up. You need to keep moving outside at this time of year to keep the cold at bay, so I gathered several buckets of fallen leaves to add to the leaf mould pile beside the shed.

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Gardenwise | What’s in A Name – Feeling Sorry for a Tulip...

Wed, Nov 11, 2020

You might remember me mentioning last week that I’d been ordering tulips, so just to remind you, you still have several weeks to plant the bulbs if you haven’t already. As they originate in the Middle East (not in Holland – the Dutch are just brilliant at growing and breeding them), they really need baking heat in summer, after the flower and foliage has yellowed and died down, in order to flower the following year. (Don’t we all.) This not always being forthcoming in Northern Europe, for every dozen you plant you could be lucky if two or three bother to show up in year two. That said, nothing else makes such a colourful display in late spring – so if you’re thinking of indulging, here are a few suggestions.

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Gardenwise | Carried away by a Catalogue

Mon, Nov 02, 2020

It’s time to plant the tulips – at least it will be once they arrive. An email informs me that my bulb order has been shipped, but in these strange times who knows what adventures they will have before they arrive safely at my door?

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Gardenwise | Finding hope in Falling Leaves

Wed, Oct 28, 2020

As far as I can make out we’ve only had one bank holiday since New Year’s Day without a lockdown in place. History will judge whether the damage caused was justified, but for now one thing at least is certain: damage is being done. This week I’d like to encourage you, if you possibly can, to let nature help you undo at least some of that damage; or if that’s not possible, to help you cope with it and give you hope for the future.

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Gardenwise | Pots of Cheer for Darker Days

Wed, Oct 21, 2020

It’s been a particularly lovely autumn and just now the leaf colour on the trees is a sight to behold. The sunny weather and blue skies we’ve been enjoying help to make the landscape – and the garden – sing with colour. But thoughts are turning now to the weeks and months ahead- how can we keep the garden looking cheerful over winter, until the spring bulbs arrive?

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Gardenwise | Sorbus – They’re Super!

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

I’m feeling a lot of love for Sorbus at the moment – they are such a super little tree. Our native Sorbus aucuparia is also commonly known as the rowan or mountain ash, which confuses people a lot – this is the kind of confusion that the use of botanical names, as opposed to common ones, helps to avoid. Anyway. You’ll know Sorbus aucuparia by its pinnate leaves – small leaflets arranged either side of a common stalk – and its abundant bunches of scarlet berries, visible from mid to late summer onwards. It’s a small, dainty tree, and this, as well as its long season of interest – bunches of creamy blossom in spring and good autumn leaf colour – make it a good candidate for a small garden. It’s also good for exposed locations, being completely unfazed by poor soil and strong winds.

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Gardenwise | The Benefits of Going Under Cover

Thu, Oct 08, 2020

No matter how lovely your garden is, you must admit that sometimes it would be really convenient if you could just add a roof. Fresh air is all very well and we need the rain for sure, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could enjoy the garden without the rain actually falling on us while we do it?

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Gardenwise | Stretching the Seasons

Wed, Sep 30, 2020

Since that decided nip arrived in the air last week, it feels as though autumn is definitely here, although the golden sunny days might hang around for a little while yet if we’re lucky. It can be easy to give up on the garden at this time of year and I’ve definitely been guilty of that myself over the last month or so. As summer ends and growth slows, things tend to get overgrown and a bit neglected, plants sprawling and looking past their best – just like humans do at the end of a party. Not that anyone can remember what a party’s like just now, obviously.

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Gardenwise | Berry Nice Indeed

Tue, Sep 22, 2020

It’s getting to the time of year when berries abound on plants both wild and cultivated. This is when they can be enjoyed in the ornamental garden and hedgerow – visually, at least. A few weeks further on and a cold snap will see them stripped off by hungry birds, but just now, as the season turns and the leaves begin to do likewise, the jewel like clusters still adorn the branches.

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Gardenwise | A Sense of Place for Perfect Paving

Mon, Sep 14, 2020

One of the more important principles of garden design is good flow – a well designed garden will fit in and sit well, not just with the home or building to which it belongs, but with the wider environment outside, whether that be town or country, seaside or city centre. It’s well worth keeping this in mind before you make your final choice of paving, as your patio or terrace, steps and paths are probably your largest investment in terms of outlay when you are planning changes to the garden or indeed creating a new one.

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Gardenwise | What’s In a Name?

Tue, Aug 25, 2020

When I’m discussing planting plans with clients they’re sometimes nonplussed by the botanical names of plants, and it’s hard to blame them - after all, not many of us are familiar with Latin in the twenty first century. There’s a very good reason for using them, though, and it’s not just to baffle you with hard to pronounce tongue twisters.

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Gardenwise | Late Summer Blues

Wed, Aug 19, 2020

Nature, for reasons best known to herself, seems to favour shades of yellow and pink. That is, I am sure there are botanists and scientists who know why this is, but I only know that it is so. Check out the wildflowers growing by the roadside or in fields – they are still looking fabulous even in late August here in the west of Ireland – and you’ll see what I mean. There are plenty of pinks, yellows and whites, but apart from the odd vetch scrambling up a blackberry bush, blues are few and far between. And even the vetches are mostly mauvey - purple.

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Gardenwise | Rain , Rain Go Away…..

Wed, Aug 12, 2020

Regular readers of Gardenwise might remember me mentioning, earlier in the summer, that I always dread hearing about a hosepipe ban, because nothing is more guaranteed to result in torrential rain shortly thereafter. I’ll leave you to judge for yourself whether that observation has this year been justified, pausing only to point out that the ban has, for some weeks, been lifted.

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Gardenwise | The Aromatic Herb that Won’t be Forgotten

Wed, Aug 05, 2020

We were roasting lamb the other day and I headed out to the garden for a few sprigs of rosemary, as you do. For ages after cutting, the gorgeous aroma clung to my hands, reminding me yet again what a super plant this is – so much so that I think it deserves a Gardenwise column all to itself.

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Gardenwise | Doing the hard work – so you don’t have to!

Mon, Jul 27, 2020

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a garden designer must have a great life altogether, wafting about among pretty flowers, stopping here and there to smell the roses, and smile as a butterfly flutters past. Sure it’s hardly a job at all! Except, of course, that’s not quite how it works in real life, so today ladies and gentlemen, a behind -the -scenes glimpse of one part of the design process, the Site Assessment. The parameters of this can be vary from a thorough walk through with observations and photos taken from every angle to a complete site survey with measurements.

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Sounds of the Sea Part II – Plants for a Coastal Garden

Wed, Jul 22, 2020

Last week we looked at some of the garden design issues facing those lucky enough to have a garden close to the coast. This week I’d like to share with you some of my favourite plants for growing in these challenging locations. The great benefit to living and gardening close to the sea is that frost is very rare, so you will get away with a wider variety of tender plants without winter protection than you would further inland. The downside, of course, is that strong, salty winds will be almost constant unless your garden is very sheltered, so plants need to be chosen with this in mind.

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Gardenwise | Sounds of the Sea

Tue, Jul 14, 2020

A coastal garden is usually a challenge, and being based on the western edge of our beautiful island, a lot of my clients have gardens by the sea. The biggest challenge is usually the wind – not just its strength and frequency, but the salt it carries with it which can be so harmful to sensitive leaves and flowers. Being the west of Ireland, rainfall is high and soil by the sea often tends to be sandy, full of rocks and low in nutrients. But there are few amongst us who don’t love the sea – and that can often lead to the biggest challenge of all – how to create a sheltered garden without losing your view of the rolling waves.

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