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A collaboratively created garden, a haven for nature.

I was invited by Denis Healy, one of Ireland’s pioneer organic vegetable gardeners, to design new flowering gardens for the family. Denis had bought thousands of organic perennials, some rare from Gert Stam of Caherhurley organic nurseries, and needed to plan out areas on the land to grow these. In addition Henrike, his partner and their children Melvin and Ashling all have a great interest in different aspects of the gardens.

The Healy’s garden has a special significance for me because it’s the first place I worked, as a teenager on school holidays. By osmosis I begin to understand the subtle interconnected nature of life on land. Working with Denis is where I developed a deep and lasting respect for organic farming through awareness and observation.

For the gardens we developed a highly collaborative process where the family codesigned the six gardens. Using drone imagery and measured drawings taken on site, we built scale maps and aerial views of the areas for our design. We looked at these maps together and broke out the space into six distinct garden areas.

Breaking the gardens out into six areas so they can be built one at a time to suit the family.

From our initial meetings everyone had many ideas such as spiral gardens, with paths for fun and easy maintenance, a hut in a hidden space to relax by the pond. We wanted the gardens to be beautiful places to be in and enjoy and at the same time a haven for nature, pollinating insects and birds.

Sketch ideas by the family and the ecological nature and potential of each space inspired development of final designs.

We built an extensive plant library to  document the diversity and species details of the organic perennials from Caherhurley organic perennial nursery. We then were in a position to compose a planting plan for the gardens, having agreed the structural layout and habitats we wanted to create.

Woodland Garden Planting Plan Wicklow © Roisin Byrne

Indicative Woodland Garden Plan

Planting plan toWoodland Edge.

Concept to ‘Embraced In’ Garden

We were fortunate Gert & Elizabeth Stam visited during the design process and we were able to walk the garden locations together. We recorded Gert as he generously shared his legacy of knowledge and advice on his grown plants. He had a wealth of ideas on planting compositions and seasonal interest.

Melvin, seen here carrying plants, has a keen interest and natural interest in characteristics and composition of plants. Not unusual to meet him with ‘a pocket full of seeds’

Thus the design of these gardens was highly collaborative and the result? Gardens that are high nature value, truly vibrant.

I visited this summer, just a year after planting to the Spiral + Hidden gardens. We saw so many species of bee and butterfly, heard a great number of birds. Denis, and family have gone on to plant a field opposite the Spiral Gardens fully up with Phacelia, you can literally hear it buzzing, it lifts the heart to be in these gardens.

A short video of the Spiral Garden, Hidden Garden and Phacelia Field opposite the Spiral Garden. Taken a year after Spiral Gardens were planted.