This year’s Bloom festival featured various virtual initiatives and events including seven garden designs designed by award-winning Bloom show garden designers.
Linda McKeown is a Belfast-based garden designer and horticulturist who has been awarded four medals at Bord Bia Bloom, including a Gold Medal in 2019.
Linda, who was part of this year’s virtual event, shares her top tips on creating a dream garden at home.
- Go for the best you can afford at the time and remember you don’t have to do everything at once. If your budget is limited, start with the trees or other large plants that generally take the longest to mature. Annual flowers from seed are a good way to provide flowers and colour until you’re ready to embark on the next stage of the project.
- It is good to have a plan in place before you start working on your garden, that way you won’t go too far off track wasting valuable time and money. I recommend seeking professional advice from a garden designer if your project is large or complicated — it could save you money in the long run!
- If your garden is small consider planting suitable trees and shrubs in containers as this will restrict or slow their growth. For instance, Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) will grow successfully in a container. An added benefit to planting trees in pots is that they can be moved to strategic positions around the garden so you can gain maximum benefit when they look their best.
Nicola Haines is a partner in Tierney Haines Architects in charge of the landscape design department and has won two gold medals at Bord Bia Bloom.
- Mass-planting groups of the same plant is more effective and less fussy. It also makes maintenance easier than having lots of individual plants with different maintenance needs.
- Form, structure and texture are as important as colour. Alliums have great colour for a few weeks in the summer but the strong stems and heads give great structure all through the winter and the seeds feed the birds.
- Half the year we look at our gardens from inside so consider the rooms you spend most time in and stage views of the garden from them.
- Layer the view by planting in the foreground, mid-ground and background. Planting a small tree near the house creates a framed view of the garden. Winter bulbs planted close to the house will also provide interest in the depths of winter.
Oliver Schurmann is a co-founder, along with his wife Liat, of Mount Venus Nursery in Rathfarnham, Dublin. They have won nine awards for show gardens at Bord Bia Bloom.
- Planting: Generally when planting perennials and trees dig a hole twice the size of the pots, then tease out the potting compost from the roots without damaging them too much. Then mix the rich growing medium with the infill soil. If available, a pinch of seaweed dust will help to reconstitute the soil. Water well with an open hose or watering can and do not compact the soil with your heels.
- Edging: Formal edging between paved surfaces and planting areas is not required. The plants will edge the paths and patio eventually as they spread out.
- Weeding: Use a little hand fork to loosen the soil and the roots of weeds before pulling them out. Disturbing the soil surface will expose weed seeds to the light and encourage germination. Always weed from the plant outwards as the weeds closest to your plant do the most damage. Let weeds grow to a certain size before tackling them, they are then easier to pull and you have less work to do!