Reaping a golden harvest

IRISH horticulture is in rude health at the moment. We are still coming down from the excitement and buzz of Bloom and Mallow shows and there are more to come.

Reaping a golden harvest

Garden Trails and Open Garden events are happening all over the country with private and public gardens of the highest standard open for everyone to peruse, enjoy and gain inspiration. The WAFA World Flower Show took place in the RDS last weekend featuring top exhibits from 31 countries.

Dare I say that there is a bit of optimism poking its head up in Irish society? This is certainly the case in Irish horticulture. There is a bit of a feeling that the world hasn’t ended and we’ve got through the worst of times and now it’s time to be proud once again of what we do. And to underline that optimism one of our top garden designers, Paul Martin, is once more off to the Hampton Court Flower Show in July representing not just himself and his successful design company but Irish horticulture in general.

Paul has been designing gardens for over 20 years, having qualified in the National Botanic gardens in Dublin in 1986, where he gained a real passion for plants and plant combinations. He is no stranger to Hampton Court Flower Show, having exhibited first in 2006 with a garden inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and called after his iconic house, “Falling Water” — a silver gilt medal was the result.

In 2011 he designed a garden entitled “Gray’s Garden” with inspiration from Eileen Gray, the famous interior and furniture designer from the early 20th century. The planting was different in that the plants were planted in interlocking blocks, with shades of cool blues, and off whites. It won a gold medal, and paved the way for Paul to be invited to participate in the Singapore Garden Festival in 2012, alongside top UK designers Sarah Eberle and Andy Sturgeon, all of whom won gold, the first time in the history of the show that there were any European gold medals.

In 2013, Paul designed the “Jardin du Gourmet” with Vestra Wealth, winning critical acclaim for a smart contemporary garden with edible plants. Paul is back at Hampton Court this year, with sponsors Vestra Wealth again, with a garden called “Vestra Wealth’s Vista”.

A was a smart modern garden for a contemporary home owner, Paul uses various levels and layers in planting and hard landscaping to surround a dining terrace with a cedar cantilevered table.

Gabions are clad in copper and packed with split timber, which helps to encourage wildlife. It is little features like this that make an imaginative garden and I am glad to see this eco-awareness becoming more important in show gardens.

Clipped box lawns are used as alternatives to grass with one of the lawns supporting a cedar water channel which cascades into a copper pool beneath. The planting has large drifts of Verbena, Nepeta and Lavender with the colour palette of purples and blues used to calm down a hot summer’s evening.

As this design shows, a garden should be more than just a work of art and a collection of well-chosen and well-produced plants. It needs to be a living creation.

If you’re travelling to this show then keep a close eye out for Paul’s creation, if you’re not then be sure in the knowledge that Ireland is being well represented. Hopefully he’ll bag another gold for himself and for Irish garden design.

Paul Marin will talk at Carlow Garden Festival next month.


Sky TV are coming town and they’re looking for Cork’s best gardens.

Welcome to my Garden is a new TV series being made by Outline Productions — the makers of BBC’s The Great British Garden Revival. It’s a new Sky 1 prime-time series with filming planned for six regions across Ireland and the UK to explore and showcase some of the most stunning, imaginative and unique gardens, no matter what shape, size or style.

They’re looking for green-fingered fanatics to take part and compete alongside other non-professional gardeners and to compare and critique the best garden/ gardening skills and hospitality in their region.

The production team are looking for a variety of people with a range of gardens to come forward and apply. You might own a national collection, or want to share your pristine tranquil retreat.

Whatever your plot, if you’re looking for an opportunity to showcase your garden and air your honest opinion on other gardens too, contact Outline Productions for more information and details on: or call 0044-207-4247645.

Filming takes place in August, and they are looking for people to apply as soon as possible.


With the beautiful warm weather we’ve been enjoying, do be aware that the garden needs plenty of water for plants not to suffer from drought damage. The ideal time to water the garden is early in the morning before the temperatures are too high and, failing that, after high temperatures in the evening. Very soon we will all be paying for the water that comes out of our hosepipe and with the amount of rainfall that we get in this part of the world, our gardens should never go without. Fitting a standard water butt to a down pipe on your house is a straightforward enough task. You can take it further and have a series of connected butts providing you with a substantial amount of rainwater which can the be used in the garden either through a tap or pumped through a hose.

It is also good practice, and I recommend mulching your plants with some well rotted manure, compost, bark or gravel. Not only will this mean less weed growth but will help reduce water loss through evaporation.

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