About the garden
"Family Friendly Garden"
Maeve’s design for this split-level garden features three distinct zones: a patio with a vibrant raised bed encased in Cor-ten steel; a lawn with a solid wall where the children can play ball; and a relaxed seating area at the back of the garden. There you’ll find a green-roofed* playhouse with a sandpit and a studio room which can be used for an office or storage, or converted into a den when the kids are older. A pergola adds privacy, creating an intimate space to enjoy the morning sun.
The planting throughout this garden is designed to encourage pollinators and wildlife. Low maintenance and low toxicity, it suits a busy family with young children who have a keen sense of adventure. ‘The plants are robust and will stand up to exuberant play,’ says Maeve. ‘You don’t want to be the parent that’s always shouting “be careful off the plants!”’
The planting list for this garden has been carefully selected to ensure the colour palette, height and texture work together, explains Maeve. ‘For instance, the green and purple tones of the grasses and Alliums in the foreground work with the yellows and whites of the climbers around the pergola. Being selective like this helps to create a more cohesive design for your garden.’
Maeve O'Neill is a landscape architect, sculptor, former art teacher and design fellow in UCD and founder of Realise Landscape Architects. She has won a number of awards at Bord Bia Bloom including a Gold Medal in 2019.
Family Friendly Garden
- Back of the house is South facing
- 15 x 9m plot
Garden Designer Tips
Maeve’s advice for creating a family-friendly garden.
Aim to work with the selected perennial plant list as any additional seeds and bulbs will be threaded through these plants. Don’t go too wild with the colours of the seeds and bulbs that you choose. Too many clashing colours can make a garden look disjointed.
Planting plants close together minimises the amount of weeding you will need to do.
Hero plant 1: Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette'
Prized for its autumn colour, Liquidamber 'Slender Silhouette' is a conical specimen tree, with dense, alternate, maple-like leaves colouring though orange to brilliant purplish red in autumn. Position: Full sun/Partial shade. Height: 12 metres Spread: 2.5-4 metres
Hero plant 2: Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
This perennial Salvia with aromatic leaves narrow grey-green leaves, bears multiple upright spikes of intense violet- purple flowers throughout the summer. Position: Full sun or part shade. Height: 0.1-0.5 metres. Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres
This border suits an aspect that gets sun for a large part of the day and brings colour and structure to the view from the windows. A vibrant raised bed encased in Cor-ten steel acts as a focal point when viewed from inside the house, while softening and screening the patio behind it. The green and purple tones of the grasses and Alliums in the foreground work well with the tones of the two trees behind, an Amelanchier and a Liquidambar both which provide colour in spring and autumn. The grasses include the golden wheatgrass, Stipa gigantea 'Gold Fontaene’ and the Japanese grass Hakonechloa macra with its lush green foliage, provide texture and movement along with sound, adding to the sensory experience.
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
A summer flowering bulb, Allium 'Purple Sensation' adds architectural structure, with its long lasting purple pompom flowers in late May into June, while the seed heads which follow add year round interest. Position: Full Sun/Partial Sun. Height: 0.9m Spread: 0.5m
One of the more unusual Alliums, this is a tall bulbous perennial with a tuft of narrow basal leaves and tear-drop shaped umbles of tiny mauve graduating to deep pink flowers borne on tall stems. Position: Full sun. Height: 0.5-1 metres Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres
Achillea 'Salmon beauty'
Great for pollinators, this is a free flowering Achillea or Yarrow, with beautiful Salmon coloured flowers all summer long. Position: Full sun. Height 2.5ft spread 2ft.
Buxus sempervirens (clipped Box balls)
Common box is an evergreen, bushy, upright shrub which can be bought for low hedging or as clipped specimens in cones or balls (Box Ball). Position: Full sun, dappled shade. Can grow to H: 5M Spread: 5M if left uncut.
Hakonechloa macra or Japanese Forest Grass, is a clump-forming, perennial grass which forms a broad, low, mound of narrow, arching, bamboo-like leaves. Position: Partial to full shade. Height: 14”’ (35cm) Spread: 16” (40cm)
Stipa gigantea 'Gold fontaene'
Also known as Golden Oats, this is a is a robust, evergreen grass with arching green leaves and large panicles of oat-like, purplish flowers which ripen to gold. Position: Full sun. Height: 1.5-2.5 metres Spread: 0.5-1 metres
Origanum laevigatum 'Herrenhausen'
Also know as Marjoram, Marjory or Origano, this perennial herb is low growing and great near the front of a well drained border. Loved by pollinatiors, it bears masses of purple flowers in summer. Position: Full sun. Height: 0.6m Spread: 0.45m
Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue'
Also known as creeping Phlox (FLOX) 'Emerald Cushion' is a spreading, mound-forming, evergreen perennial to 15cm tall, with bright green leaves and vivid blue flowers from late spring to early summer. Position: Full sun. Height: 0.1-0.5 metres Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres