The third episode of RTÉ Super Garden saw Suzie Khan transform the small Kimmage garden into a highly productive permaculture inspired garden for the young Martin family.
BEFORE: The garden was uninspired. The young couple had a beautiful home that unfortunately did not transcend into the garden. Their brief included a space to entertain and socialise as well as somewhere to learn how to grow vegetables and herbs. Suzie’s garden did both very well, as well as introducing the family to permaculture and all it entails.
AFTER: Suzie has surpassed the homeowners expectations and has created a space bursting with planting, clever permaculture ideas, education and stunning design details. Suzie has a lot of experience with educational gardens and she has managed to fuse this experience with a stunningly designed garden to create a real contender for bloom. It is an organic, rustic design that gives the sense of a woodland adventure with places to sit and play throughout.
The Martin family loved the idea of growing their own vegetables and taking care of the garden and Suzie has provided them with the opportunity. She has cleverly labelled all of the herbs and vegetables as well as the other planting using hand painted spoons (a really lovely detail!) so that as they grow, everything can be recognised.
Some of the key design elements that struck me within the space were the upcycling and re-purposing, the appreciation of everyday items and the change in levels within the space. See my video below explaining these in more detail.
Upcycling is one of my current obsessions and it is also something close to Suzie’s heart. Part of the message of Permaculture is not to waste things, to re-use and re-purpose as much as possible. Suzie created some very interesting pieces of furniture in her garden, all handmade and custom designed for the garden. The table and bench seats were all carved to shape. The table top was cut from a large Sequoia tree and makes a striking feature within the space.
The great thing about Suzie’s organic furniture is that it is extremely well finished. If attempting this at home, make sure to sand timber enough so that there are no sharp edges or rough faces. This will ensure that the pieces are comfortable to sit on and will not snag clothes. To ensure they stand the test of time, make sure to coat timber in a cuprinol protection layer.
2. Look at everyday things with fresh eyes!
Another element of upcycling and re-purposing in Suzie’s garden that appealed to me were her decorative bicycle screens. Suzie saw old bicycle wheels as a source of inspiration and created some decorative elements out of them. By painting the old wheels in varying Hammerite colours, Suzie added pops of bright colours into the garden. She also added glass details to reflect light.
In your own garden, use your imagination and add decorative touches to brighten up the space and add colour. Think of your walls as you do in your home and incorporate art and decoration throughout your garden.
3. Changing levels
Changing levels add interest and excitement to any space, whether indoor or outdoor. This garden had a slight gradient towards the back of the garden space to begin with. Rather than wasting any material within the space, Suzie maximised this slope and added to it to create a raised seating and play area at the back of the garden. Raised areas are a great way to add to the journey and experience. The raised area provides a great sun trap and viewing spot to enjoy the rest of the garden.
Try to incorporate different levels in your own garden. Even just adding raised planters gives some vertical interest and prevents the garden from looking flat and 2 dimensional.