The Secret Garden

Award-winning garden designer Mark Grehan of The Garden at Powerscourt Townhouse Centre treated Garden Heaven magazine to an exclusive guided tour of a serene secret garden in the Kildare countryside. Read on to find out his golden garden rules, and click through the gallery above to find out how he turned this secluded spot into one of his favourite design projects...

THE SITE A large Kildare garden with a shady front area and sunny rear space, leading to a lake and the countryside beyond.

THE BRIEF The owner wanted a garden which looked natural and not too formal, with a continuous show of colour and interest.

THE DESIGN A huge part of the garden's design was the borrowed landscape. For instance, the row of beech actually belongs to the neighbouring property. The garden seamlessly melds into the surrounding landscape, with breathtaking views across a lake into meadows and deciduous woodland beyond.

THE PLANTS Mark worked with the existing plants and trees, and took out some old trees and shrubs to open the views. The beds were designed to flow organically and lend an air of informality to the garden.

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Mark's golden garden rules...

Plant in layers for all-year-round interest, and mix textures.

Use your eye to arrange plantings as though composing a bouquet for the house.

Don?t be put off by dry-shade plants - Epimedium, some dry-loving ferns and Sanguisorba officinalis work well in dry shade.

If your neighbour has good trees and large shrubs, ?borrow? their garden by planting so as to make the boundaries invisible.

Create plenty of spots for sitting in the shade or the sunshine to contemplate the garden by placing seating around the space - no matter how small the spot, you can usually fit a chair or two.

Take out lower branches of trees and shrubs to expose interesting or smart coloured bark.

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Create a vertical element to the garden by using sculptural pieces of wood, steel or statuary.

Visit?The Garden.

Words Vandra Costello.?Photography ?adaoin Ryan.

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