Designing your room outside

Bloom Manager Gary Graham shares his advice on how you can create a slice of nature at home

As we all eagerly await the reopening of garden centers, now is the ideal time to share a thought or two about garden design and the planning process. Typically, most of us never get to spend a lot of time at home in our garden, so we rarely take the time to properly assess the site before we make decisions about paving, borders, and where to place the trampoline or goal posts.  If we did take some time, we could exploit a garden’s natural advantages and mitigate its poorer features.

To better identify where to locate an outdoor dining space, take a chair from the kitchen, move it to the garden and sit on it a few times a day – moving it to follow the moving sun. This can help you quickly identify where the garden is most exposed to chilly winds and where the garden offers most privacy from neighbours’ windows.

Another benefit of this approach is the possibility of finding something in the ‘borrowed landscape’ to bring into the garden. It may be a beautiful tree, a church spire, an architecturally-interesting building or a nice patch of blue sky between tall buildings. You may be lucky enough to have a view of tall mountains or a seascape. It is always worth framing a view, by planting trees or tall shrubs at each side of an aperture through which the view can be admired.

If you have a very small space, an overlooked balcony, or a garden that is surrounded by unattractive views, the garden must function as a green oasis where all views are to the interior and the focal points are within the space. In this instance, the garden can be screened and closed to the outside world. While form should always follow function, the most successful small spaces are best designed to provide a sanctuary or an escape from the built environment. A small cramped space can be transformed with lush green plants.

Don’t worry too much about flowering plants or leaf colour, lots of shades of green works best. I have had the opportunity to visit hundreds of great gardens over the decades and those that work best are the gardens that draw me to a restful secluded green space – somewhere to sit and be attentive to nature. These are the gardens that calm the mind and restore the soul. So whether you are solo or sharing your space with family, take some time to be attentive in the garden and I guarantee that the design ideas will flow!

You can find more gardening tips from Gary on GroMór’s Instagram page @gromorireland every Wednesday for more inspiration. He talks all things gardening, accompanied by some special guests – you may even recognise some of them from Bloom!