Super Garden 2014 – Episode 2

The Second episode of RTÉ Super Garden series saw Brian creating both a beautiful and highly functional garden design in Monasterevin for the Brett family. The biggest design challenge for Brian was to create a fully accessible garden space that would facilitate all of the family’s growing needs. The Brett’s youngest son Eddie has spinabifida and is currently in a mobility chair. Up until recently Eddie was not able to play with his brother and sister in the garden. Brian’s brief was to create an accessible garden that allowed all children to play and have fun together in a safe and accessible environment. Brian’s biggest challenge was combining this difficult brief while also creating a show garden. What was most impressive to me was how Brian focused so keenly on providing the home-owners with the requirements that they so eagerly looked for.

BEFORE: This garden was oversized and at different levels to the home which made access difficult. It was very bare and unfinished with no real design qualities.

Brian's garden before
Brian’s garden before

AFTER: Brian has created a stunning playful garden space that meets the home-owners needs and is equally beautiful in its own right. His construction experience shines through in this design with a strong emphasis on hard landscaping, which dominates the space from the ramp entering the garden to the pavilion space and rear gantry area. Brian sought recommendations for suitable materials for pathways for use with wheelchairs which he incorporated into the design.

Brian's garden after
Brian’s garden after

There were some key aspects that stood out for me in terms of design in this garden. These include his brave and generous use of colour, the journey and pathways in the garden and the space within the space; in this case the pavilion space in the garden. See below for video, explanations and tips on each area.

1. Colour

Brian used a whopping 100 litres of cuprinol paint in this garden! Every visible surface showcased more tones and colours. What could have been a lot of timber and garden materials, has been transformed into a bright and colourful exterior space. Brian used a wide colour palette based mainly on soft blue and lavender tones. The main boundaries were painted in silver birch, the decking area and ramp in a rich lavender and the gantry and horizontal cladding were painted in a beautiful Beaumont blue. These colours all compliment each other well and break up the space. By mixing similar complimentary tones, the garden has more depth and interest. By using the Beaumont blue near the top and the end of the garden, Brian has provided a visual link between the two areas.

The most prominent fixture in the garden is the pavilion and Brian opted to highlight this by painting it a popping Beach blue colour with a playful Sweet Sundae pink up-cycled door. A persons eye will always be drawn to the brightest, strongest colour so this was a great way to add a feature to the garden. Use strong colour in your garden on items or areas that you want to stand out.

Cuprinol Beach blue and Sweet Sundae
Cuprinol Beach blue and Sweet Sundae

Brian also used Black ash in the garden which is an unusual choice. He used it in a well considered way to highlight pathways and low level items including the low lying rill, creature feature and herb garden. He also used black on the inside of the tunnel passageway behind the pavilion which provided a striking contrast to the beach blue.

RTE Supergarden garden 2 - The Brett family

2. Create a journey

Good design should provide a good experience to the user and take them on a journey through the space. Brian has created many different pathways throughout the garden so that the children can play and wander around. There are many different journeys, one of which includes a tunnel passageway beside the pavilion. Rather than creating a straight and obvious pathway, consider creating curved, or cornered pathways to lead the way throughout the whole garden and add interest and excitement.


3. A Space within a space

I love the idea of a space within a space. As seen on last weeks RTÉ Super Garden episode, this can take many different shapes and styles. Brian has created quite a permanent pavilion structure in the central view line of the garden. What is great about this structure is that it is adaptable to changing functions, it is future proofed. Brian built the pavilion well so it is sealed and fully weather proof which means it will stand the test of time. Brian also incorporated lighting also into the design so it can be used in dark and dreary times. The Bretts are a young and growing family so their needs are going to change considerably over the next few years. Now it is the ideal play space, but I can see it adapting to a homework room and then a hang out spot for friends.

Interior of pavillion
Interior of pavillion

You can create a similar outdoor room simply by upgrading an existing garden shed or garage. The things worth investing in are adding electricity to it and ensuring that it is weather tight. Having both of those will offer a lot of flexibility for the user. Colour will transform it from a standard garden shed to a space you want to spend time in!