With TV ratings for the Irish reality show Super Garden skyrocketing - we recap this year's eclectic designs and share each designer's advice for your own garden.
The idea: Each area of the garden is like a different room and created with different materials. There's a sunken family area with artificial grass, a waterfall and stone wall. Another spot has a graffiti-ed wall and play area, while the pergola arches over a romantic eating space.
He says: "Design is in my DNA [he's a ninth generation horticulturalist], I love all aspects of design and fashion, really anything creative."
If I could change one thing … "I would have liked to put in more garden decor to finish it off but most shops were closed because of Covid-19."
The tricky bit was … "I always design a planting scheme to last through the growing season and beyond. But this build was in February with judging in early March which meant no leaves on the trees and very little colour for judging and camera day. But I took the option to plant the garden for the client, not the judges, as a Bloom Garden would have a whole different colour palette and scheme."
Top tip: "Be creative, be bold there are no boxes for good design."
The idea: It's all about sustainable gardening in an urban setting and edible plants. There's a hydroponic vertical grow wall for herbs and vegetables, rainwater collection for watering plants and even an aquaponic system that uses fish to grow herbs. There's a patio area with built-in seating, a play pod and sensory planting.
She says: "Growing up, my mum was, and still is, a passionate gardener. I would go and visit different gardens and learn plant names from an early age. This definitely shaped my own passion for garden design and love of plants in general. I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry and in particular the idea of designing green spaces such as rooftops sparked an interest. Green buildings can enhance an otherwise unused space into something people can enjoy."
If I could change one thing ... "If I had more time and experience in delivering garden builds, I would have removed the concrete pathway and used paving around the house to link the house to the garden more."
The trickiest bit … "Managing my time in the garden while working full time."
Top tip: "Anyone can incorporate edible plants into their garden. Fruit trees and herbs are low maintenance and can add a functional and beautiful element to any sized space."
The idea: Mark wanted to create a sanctuary with the focus on mental health, and he turned the garden on the diagonal to give it a sense of space. He installed four "reflective" black pools of water, floating flower beds and used granite and cobbled paving for access, as well as building a copper-faced garden room and a living roof to shade the BBQ area.
He says: "I love gardening because of the freedom it gives you. You have a blank canvas and you can create whatever your imagination allows. There's also the variety in it, no two gardens are the same so there's always something new and interesting."
If I could change one thing … "I'm not sure there's a whole lot I would do differently really. I'm happy with how the build went and although at times it didn't seem like we would, we got there in the end."
The trickiest part was … "Finding that starting point, that big idea that the garden centres around. Once you get that usually things start to flow."
Top tip: "Keep things simple. Don't try to put everything into one garden."
The idea: Architect Siobhan is all about simplicity, and a pared-back natural look. Her garden focuses on planting, with tall trees and grasses, ferns and herbaceous plants. It aims to look like something between wild countryside and a beautiful painting in muted shades. Architectural elements include a larch archway, a bench and corten steel water bowl as well as plenty of seats with a view.
She says: "As an architect I've always been interested in design. I also love being outdoors. After a very difficult time for my family, I began to spend more time working in the garden and found it very therapeutic. Making plans for what to do next in the garden led to an interest in thinking more seriously about garden design."
If I could change one thing … "I would have liked to have given myself more time - trying to design and build this garden in Dublin while still working full time in Cork was a challenge."
The trickiest bit ... "I was restricting myself to designing something that I knew I could deliver, with only friends and family to help as there was no budget to hire professionals."
Top tip: "Focus on what you love in a garden and what makes you feel good, don't worry about trends or perfection."
The idea: Fran mixed different styles in one small garden with Moorish-style colours and contemporary seating with structured planting. A hanging table in the seating area doubles as a water feature that funnels water through mosaic tiles. There's a sunken trampoline, a second seating area with a view of the local steeple. And plenty of woodland-style planting with grasses and mature trees.
He says: "My father worked in the Botanic Gardens. I have fond memories of him arriving home each evening between April and May with his lunch bag filled with tiny annuals, carefully wrapped in newspaper. I would help him plant out the flowers. Our home garden was an oasis of perennials, shrubs, annuals and trees. Each year, with the influence of my father, my knowledge of gardening grew to the extent that, by the time I was 12, I began work on my first garden in my hometown."
I've learnt ... "Just how important family and friends are. Doing this garden gave me real time with them. I found you have to stand by your ideas, ideals and always smile no matter what the situation."
The trickiest bit … "Was convincing a client that the design will work for them. They could hate a colour that I suggested but then love it when I eventually used it."
Top tip: "Be happy. Love life. It's a beautiful journey."
Super Garden airs on RTE One, Thursday, June 25, at 8pm.
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