Something about gardens is good for the soul: exploring nature and absorbing the wonders of Mother Nature’s work can have a hugely positive impact on our emotional well being.
In a world where man-made objects and technology dominate the advancement of modern life, it is wonderful that gardens still hold an undeniable value to humanity.
Wandering through the show gardens at last week’s Bloom festival, the impact and appreciation we have for our outdoor sanctuaries was palpable.
Each garden was a story. Its tale passionately relayed by the associated Designer. An accumulation of features. Features with meaning, symbolism and significance within a thoroughly thought-out design.
It has been said that ‘to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow’. The act of gardening brings with it themes of belief, confidence and ritual.
Within these themes the therapeutic benefits of gardens are well supported. The focus of cultivating something from nothing. To watch another form grow with gentle human involvement is as soothing as it is fulfilling.
We see the therapeutic benefits of gardens in settings like hospices, hospitals, institutions, asylums, wellness centers, spas and retreats.
A garden can be merely a design. A collection of plants, flowers, shrubs, furnishings, textiles and details. But when details are considered in a conceptual way, when aspects of the design are critically considered for their relevance to the story, the impact is far greater. It pushes beyond aesthetics to produce a meaningful design.
Each of the gardens at Bloom had a story to tell. A message to spread. Knowledge to share. Several gardens grabbed our attention for their use of symbolism and ingenuity in driving awareness for their collaborative partners.
The Damascus Courtyard Garden, By Brian Burke
Together with GOAL, Designer Brian Burke created a garden inspired by the traditional courtyards of Syria. The Damascus Courtyard Garden sets out to be a place of reflection and relaxation for refugees.
The original design was a garden divided in two: one half representing the Syria of times gone by, a space at peace. This was to contrast darkly against the second proportion of the garden in a state of disrepair; a family’s personal possessions distributed chaotically across the garden, symbolising their abrupt departure from their home.
However to respect the garden’s visiting refugees this plan was altered. The Designer and members from GOAL’s team decided against a garden space that refreshed notions of war and symbolism that could potentially cause refugees distress.
The finished garden was a space drawing on the traditional Syrian courtyard design: a space of beauty, of life, of peace.
The GOAL garden will be recreated in the Syrian refugee centre in Kildare, providing an emotional and physical connection to their homeland.
Serene Sanctuary, By Alan Coffey
Garden Designer Alan Coffey created a space entitled ‘Serene Sanctuary’ in conjunction with Irish Country Magazine and Mental Health Ireland.
Alan’s garden featured a muted, restful colour palette of blues, whites and purples, creating a soft and tranquil tone to the space. The concept behind this garden was to build a restorative and meditative space where one can escape the demands of day to day life.
The garden was designed to be a journey eliciting positive emotional responses along the way: the textured pebbled path, wild and free flower beds, a poignant sculptural focal point, through to a day bed and concluding at an enclosed terrace.
The pathway meanders through the garden, navigating the visitor through the path’s curves and turns, designed to represent life’s journey with all its twists, turns and complexities.
The space was tranquil, wild and shed light on an important topic within Irish society.
The Santa Rita Garden, By Alan Rudden
Alan Rudden’s garden design was a collaboration with esteemed wine brand Santa Rita. Alan’s garden transports the visitor to a Chilean estate, representing of the origins of the brand.
As part of the design process Alan toured Casa Real Estate, the home of Santa Rita to draw inspiration and experience first hand the culture and designs of South American gardens.
Cultural influences dictated much of the gardens layout and functional design. Alan noted the wonder of Chileans indulging in good food and wine in their beautiful garden surroundings. As such the garden featured a prominent dining area with a rustic, wood table.
Conceptually Alan combined old and new design features to denote the historical beginnings of wine production across Chile, and the progression through to modern day Santa Rita, Ireland’s most popular South American wine brand.
The garden was a vibrant, inspiring yet placid space and was awarded a gold medal at Bloom.
The Designers Backyard, By Lait & Oliver Schurmann
The Designers Backyard is based on a small urban garden design.
The concept for the design was to create a habitat for a variety of plant species, as well as the Garden Designer himself. The space, albeit an urban area is designed to be a retreat for the Designer. Somewhere to escape to but also feel inspired within.
Space within this garden is exaggerated through the use of clever design. There is a sunken area, the use of water and mirror for their reflective properties, as well as the vertical arrangement of plants creates an illusion of a space bigger than it is.
The garden visitor observes the space through windows. Much like the Garden Designer himself who views the garden from his office window, drawing inspiration from the arrangement of plants and the design features of his outside haven.