10 gar­den trends to up­date your space, from Bloom’s de­sign­ers,

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SAY GOOD­BYE TO DECK­ING — in case you hadn’t heard, our love af­fair with deck­ing is over. Ac­cord­ing to Alan Rud­den of Out­side Op­tions, who has de­signed the Sav­ills Ur­ban Re­treat at Bloom, “we just don’t have the cli­mate for it. We’re tear­ing out decks all the time and re­plac­ing them with nat­u­ral stone.”

Kevin Den­nis of Cityscape Gar­dener, who has de­signed Bloom’s Liv­ing Oa­sis for Santa Rita, says of deck­ing, “it’s found its niche. It does work in some ar­eas, es­pe­cially where there are changes in ground lev­els.” But the trend is to­wards us­ing nat­u­ral stone such as gran­ite and hard lime­stones that stand the test of time.

Den­nis is in­creas­ingly see­ing a de­mand for porce­lain in the ur­ban and sub­ur­ban gar­dens he de­signs. “With small city gar­dens it’s very nice to do the gar­den up like the in­side of the house so you con­tinue the look through­out. There are a lot of grey and off-brown shades. Porce­lain tiles don’t look pol­ished — they’re not high-gloss, they’re rough-tex­tured but there’s no doubt that they are tiles. But they are thick and very big so it doesn’t look like you put down a kitchen tile.”

And, just as in in­te­ri­ors, pol­ished con­crete is mak­ing a big show. Says Rud­den, “it’s very be­spoke in a colour that the de­signer would have picked. It’s in dif­fer­ent forms, some peo­ple are cov­er­ing floors with it and some are do­ing huge big blocks for their floor of pol­ished con­crete.”


LIV­ING ROOM – this trend has been around for a while, but this year sees the tra­di­tional pa­tio move away from the house to be­come a free-stand­ing struc­ture in the cen­tre or at the end of the gar­den, of­ten par­tially or com­pletely cov­ered, ac­cord­ing to Alan Rud­den. He says, “They are stand­alone, not con­nected to the house, and the whole gar­den is built around them. It’s a place for peo­ple to go and en­joy the gar­den if the weather is not 100pc on their side.”

Oliver Schur­mann of Mount Venus Nurs­ery, who has de­signed FBD In­surance’s Tran­si­tion gar­den at Bloom with Liat Schur­mann, points to our love of large ex­ten­sions with big glass win­dows as the rea­son builders tend to place a pa­tio right be­side the house – it makes both the ex­ten­sion and the gar­den feel larger. But by mov­ing the pa­tio away from the house, he says, “You re­ally feel you’re right in the gar­den and not just look­ing at an ex­tended liv­ing room on the other side of your glass, and watch­ing your ex­pen­sive out­door fur­ni­ture de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in the bad weather. It’s much nicer to bring a cur­tain of plant­ing be­tween the pa­tio and these large win­dows. It’s quite ex­cit­ing to watch the devel­op­ment of plants at close range with a piece of glass be­tween both sides.”


MOVE OVER BAR­BIE, THE CLAY OVEN HAS AR­RIVED — while out­door kitchens have been pop­ping up in Ir­ish gar­dens for the last few years, Kevin Den­nis has re­cently been in­stalling clay ovens. “It’s an oven tech­ni­cally – you can get it up to 300-400 de­grees so you can cook a pizza in three to four min­utes.” He likes to in­stall them along­side a cook­ing area with a fire­place and built-in bar­be­cue. ”So on a sum­mer evening, if there’s a slight nip, you can put some logs on the fire and do some cook­ing.”


GO WILD — Ac­cord­ing to author, gar­den de­signer and in­te­rior ar­chi­tect Leonie Cor­nelius of Blume, who this year de­signs Ev­ery­one has a Dream for Wood­ies, “At Bloom, we’re see­ing a lot of agri­cul­tural ref­er­ences, with very nat­u­ral, wild plant­ing.” But while plant­ing may ap­pear very nat­u­ral, it has been care­fully stage-man­aged. Cor­nelius’s own Bloom gar­den — and some of those at Chelsea Flower Show — has a lot of colour with lime green eu­phor­bias, irises, salvia “which spi­rals up beau­ti­fully”, as well as cheeky touches such as plan­tain, a weed which can also be grown as an or­na­men­tal.

“This year at Chelsea,” she says, “there was a lot of hes­pe­rus, which is a peren­nial that grows all over Ire­land in wild mead­ows as well. So a lot of wild stuff and yet some fea­ture plants thrown in as well, be­cause if you’re get­ting a de­signer in, you don’t ac­tu­ally just want a field. You do want some­thing that looks like an ide­alised ver­sion of na­ture.”

Last year, Alan Rud­den’s gar­den for Bloom used pur­ples and pinks, and a lit­tle or­ange and green. This year, he says he has pared his pal­ette right back for his Sav­ills show gar­den: “My plant­ing is very green and lush and we’re only us­ing one colour — white. We’ve a lot of top­i­ary and pruned box hedg­ing and we’re just us­ing al­li­ums and astilbe and small sprin­kles of white through­out the gar­den. Very re­strained. We’re try­ing to sim­plify ev­ery­thing and make a state­ment that you can be sim­ple and com­ple­ment each other.”


SWING IN THE GAR­DEN — ham­mocks are a gar­den peren­nial, but the 2017 up­date is a swing­ing chair and they are avail­able in ev­ery ma­te­rial from wicker to plas­tic to wood. De­signer Joan Mal­lon, whose En­able Ire­land Life with no Lim­its show gar­den fea­tures a candy-striped hel­ter-skel­ter, has used them to add a stand-out fea­ture in a tricky space for a pri­vate client. Most are also avail­able with a stand.


RE­TURN OF THE ROSE — James Purdy, of JP Ar­chi­tects and Land­scape De­sign, de­signs the Cupri­nol Kalei­do­scope show gar­den this year for Bloom with Dan Henson of Boys and Girls. Its cen­tral blast of colour is set around with a rose gar­den in pinks, whites and reds. Purdy pre­dicts a re­vival for the lovely flower. And he is not alone — the Straw­berry Bed Gar­den, de­signed by Maeve O’Neill, also fea­tures tow­ers of palest pink blooms. Purdy’s own favourite va­ri­ety? “David Austin’s Gertrude Jekyll for its early flower, sweet scent and colour.”


WA­TER, WA­TER, EV­ERY­WHERE — “Wa­ter is go­ing to be very big this year at Bloom,” says Alan Rud­den. “It’s not just a small ‘sound’ fea­ture, ev­ery­one seems to be go­ing for big pools. There are a lot of re­flec­tive qual­i­ties, and that’s what peo­ple are look­ing for.” In his own show gar­den, he has con­structed a large L-shaped pool, about 15m long and 1.5m wide that will have sound and re­flec­tive qual­i­ties, while Oliver Schur­mann has cre­ated a gar­den in­spired by the tidal land­scape of the West of Ire­land that takes up 80pc of the space. Ev­ery 90 min­utes, 30,000 litres of wa­ter are pumped out into a reser­voir re­veal­ing a stony low tide scene. “It’s sup­posed to re­ally cap­ture the dra­matic tran­si­tion be­tween high and low tide,” says Schur­mann.

“Wa­ter is be­com­ing pop­u­lar and peo­ple are be­com­ing a bit more coura­geous,” he says. “I mean there is al­ways the scare of lit­tle chil­dren and ponds and things, but once wa­ter is con­structed safely so that chil­dren can feel their way into the wa­ter, it’s not as dan­ger­ous and peo­ple are in­clined to go for it.”

8 CALM IT DOWN — “I think this year [hard land­scap­ing] will be very nat­u­ral and very muted,” says Alan Rud­den, whose Bloom gar­den uses nat­u­ral tones with Lis­can­nor stone, cream lime­stone and choco­late brown. “We’ve no bold, bright colours. From what I can see across the board, it’s gen­er­ally very muted, a very el­e­gant-look­ing colour scheme rather than the bright punchy scheme that has been there maybe two years ago.”

Kevin Den­nis agrees, say­ing that in­te­ri­ors’ tones of the mo­ment are now mov­ing out­doors into ma­te­ri­als. “I’d say warm-tex­tured greys are a trend. I’m even us­ing some blues which I’ve never used be­fore last year. Colours that have a cer­tain tone that make a re­ally good back-drop for plants.” In plant­ing, this is trans­lat­ing into a turn to­wards green­ery. “Peo­ple are go­ing a lot more for fo­liage,” says Oliver Schur­mann, “and go­ing back to ferns and en­joy­ing that much more, they’re look­ing for tex­ture rather than blowsy colour. Peo­ple are a bit tired of the blowsy gar­den-cen­tre look.”

9 GROW UP — The trend to­wards mak­ing a green oa­sis wher­ever pos­si­ble is on the up, lit­er­ally. “Peo­ple are con­vert­ing their flat roofs into a gar­den,” says Joan Mal­lon of Love Gar­dens! Sim­plic­ity is the key, she says. “You need plants that will give colour and in­ter­est all year long. So that is a big chal­lenge for a de­signer to get all that into a se­ries of rooftop planters.”

10 BUILD IN SHADE AND SHEL­TER — we may not have the weather for it, but it seems when it comes to al fresco din­ing, we’re op­ti­mists. Places to eat and en­ter­tain are big on our dream gar­den list. Alan Rud­den’s show gar­den has not one but two en­ter­tain­ing spa­ces — an open ter­race and a sunken, half-cov­ered space with a seat­ing area, fire­place and fea­ture wall, pro­vid­ing op­tions for all weathers and show­ing a shift away from si­t­u­at­ing din­ing ar­eas in sun­traps to build­ing in par­tial or full shade.

Oliver Schur­mann has some ad­vice for those plan­ning a din­ing space: “I do think peo­ple are un­der­stand­ing more and more that large out­door seat­ing ar­eas in full sun aren’t as at­trac­tive any more be­cause when the sun in Ire­land does come out, it gets so un­bear­ably bright and hot that you pre­fer a dap­pled, shady place. We’re plac­ing our pa­tios in the wrong spot. I try to dap­ple them off with shade a bit.”

Hang­ing gar­dens, be­low, . rat­tan chair, suit­able for in­doors. or out, €495;

The out­door liv­ing room is no longer an ex­ten­sion of the house, but sits in the mid­dle of the gar­den, here de­signed by Leonie Cor­nelius of Blume. Photo Suzy McCanny

Pol­ished con­crete and porce­lain,, as shown here from, re­place deck­ing

A stepped wa­ter fea­ture in a small ur­ban court­yard gar­den is child-proof and makes a calm­ing space. Gap Pho­tos/Ni­cola Stocken

Leonie Cor­nelius pre­dicts lots of nat­u­ral, wild plant­ing, though care­fully cu­rated – “you don’t ac­tu­ally just want a field!”

The al fresco kitchen sees the clay oven, left, join the BBQ as a gar­den must have as in this de­sign by Kevin Den­nis

David Austin’s Gertrude Jekyll has a sweet scent and colour

Add shade to your al fresco din­ing space with a pur­pose-built per­gola; ta­ble and chairs by nep­ .

Ex­tra space for ur­ban dwellers with a roof gar­den in City Liv­ing Gar­den by Kate Gould at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Muted tones of cream and stone in one of Alan Rud­den’s gar­den de­signs.

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