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Donegan Gardens: A Dublin City Garden

Wider rather than longer, this garden may appear quite simplistic, maybe at first glance. For me however, it is one of the nicest small/ city gardens I have ever created.

Don’t get me wrong there are other gardens, more show off pieces so to speak that maybe and of course can come quicker to my mind. The one offs aside and to this case I will note that there is a big difference between the warm home and nice house feel outside and my ticket always, unless otherwise directed by you, is on your behalf to create your garden.

Here my first step was to clad the walls and piers with white-painted timber, allowing the join lines to show and running left to right [or right to left], something that really gave the impression of a far greater and brighter space as it moved out of the seating room to the lawned and planted areas. Vertical lines would have done very much the opposite in working with the existing layout.

Partly down to plant choice, I really like the dappled shade as it flickers against the walls on the bright sunny days. I like the fact that the seating area, a room within itself comes with a view of the entire garden; there is a lovely feel from within of separation from the rest of the garden.

In making the space look greater, timber clad aside, the idea was to stretch the eye to the furthest points; the lawn runs longest from the bottom right hand corner to the top left and the steppings walk from the bottom left to the room now created in the top right hand corner.

Over many other alternates the brighter and smaller in size sandstone cobbles were chosen, again the lean was to creating the feel of a greater space. Though I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend it, the built-in seating and table area was a smart move. I find it helped the finished garden look of existing for some time yet very well maintained.

The planting wasn’t over complexed and was kept to a quite short palette. The choice was to a quite natural flow of foliage and silhouette, allowing for some specifically chosen to have their day on the horticultural podium through the seasons. Outlandish only through the photosynthetic maybe. Of note the tall and thin [note: bright, airy feel of space] dwarfed fruit trees were used to the back wall and for want of a better description by category, the tall shrubs brought in semi mature also helped create that instant existing feel to the new space.

Whether it be the steppings that lead out from only one set of doors though both of course can be used, the seating to the side wall or the fact that there is via the plant choice colour for all seasons and intrigue when maybe there shouldn’t be, or very simply a decent sized lawn, this garden for me, works.

My personal test as to whether I like or love a garden always comes down to the question of whether I would happily sit within A specific space outdoors and allow time pass me by. This garden passes with flying colours.

Thoughts, comments or queries:

  • leave a comment below or
  • have a chat with/ contact Peter Donegan

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Garden Ideas: 5 Uses of Features and Focal Points In Garden Design

car garden morris minor

All images and gardens by Peter Donegan/ Donegan Landscaping, Dublin

The better nee best features of any garden I have ever seen work, are those where the client, with the designer or creator almost decides to compel that design feature to commission.

A little Machiavellian by way of word choice maybe – but it is the revelation, the revealing over time and finally the receiving of that something very unique, created one-off and just for you and your garden  – that makes what may possibly seem like a gamble that I note, irrespective of garden size and budget – so very, very, very worthwhile.

That said, there is a difference between a house and a home – and – with gardens, better gardens – the main feature or what some may feel should be the main focus, should also work in tandem with its surrounds. Get that chemistry spot on and you might just have something very special.

The following are five examples of features in gardens that I have created. They are also decisions that made that garden a little different from the rest and for their owners, for the better.

1. Garden Walls with a Difference

donegan gardens dublin

If you can get this one right, you are on to an absolute winner. What I will say is it does require one to be a little bit daring, maybe, at the point of imagining what it will look like. Most tend to choose, as one might in interiors to have one featured colour wall and the rest white, for the sole logic of light purposes. As you can see in this garden, myself in the top corner planting away, the white was actually used on the lower walls the entire way around therefore allowing licence to be a little more sporadic on the upper level.

The backdrop plant of choice to soften is Fargesia, a dwarfed bamboo brought in slightly more mature and that shall only grow to around eight foot tall in its lifetime.

2. Garden Art

gardens dublin

It doesn’t have to be a piece of sculpt type olde art that you choose for your space outside, but do rest assured we have been using art in our gardens for absolute centuries. This piece was used in two of my gardens – one won two awards, one didn’t. Both great gardens. That aside, the decision to use art in our gardens has it seems been on the decline for some time.

That said, pick the right piece for the right space and surround it with choice perfect planting and you might just have that something so very special. In my opinion, we don’t use art outside enough.

3. A Feature Garden Structure

gazebo donegan garden

I’ve made and designed some great structure for some so much the better for it gardens, but this has to be one of my all time favourite garden structures I have ever used. I will admit there is no feeling greater than sitting underneath the stars whilst feeling like you are in a room of your own sipping a gin and tonic with some close friends.

If you can master that feeling ie. including the surrounds, so that the structure just stands out for the very right reasons during the day time, you have managed to achieve something extremely wonderful.

4. The Water Feature

garden water feature

There is nothing worse than a grandé anything in the wrong space and it is at this juncture that some variation of the quality not quantity cliché comes to mind. The key in all garden features is to get it just right and that’s were a good eye comes in for a great overall picture of just what it is you want. A bit like the gazebo, if it can have an additional use ie. during the day and at night-time, you have just got double bargain value for your pound.

5. A Hard Garden Surface

water garden dublin

Decks, cobble and all that is functional does have its place in the great outdoors – but if, once again, one can master so very good-looking with functionality then who am I to argue. I have created many walkable hard-surfaced finishes in my time – one of the simplest ever used in a garden of mine was this timber surface above. Divine perfection. Extreme simplicity.

In summary: the images used are ones I thought might strike a chord with you and personally, I’ll be very surprised if you like all of the images you see here. That said, they are a little unique, a little personal and individually loved by their owners.

More info:

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