About the garden
The Nature Enthusiast's Garden
Nature enthusiasts of all ages will love this south-west facing garden that is a haven for wildlife.
‘People often think that a natural garden has to look uncared for but that is not the case. You can add form and function and still achieve a natural style,’ reveals landscape architect, Jane McCorkell. This garden has been designed for a family of nature enthusiasts and will suit every age group, she says. ‘Young kids will love the hedgehog house and strawberry pallet wall while older children and teenagers will appreciate the easy-access bike storage and the outside room which can be transformed into a den or home office as the need arises.’
The garden is planted in Jane’s signature natural, organic style, with a wildflower grass area and pollinator-friendly flowers. ‘The shrubs and flowers have been selected to encourage birds, bees and other insects. Bird feeders, butterfly houses, and bug hotels can easily be added to attract more wildlife.’ A living wall and green-roofed storage* further boosts this garden’s eco-credentials.
Planning and experimenting is key to a successful garden design, says Jane. ‘You need to be prepared to interact with the garden. Be observant. Watch what happens throughout the day and the seasons. It’s not always a good idea to rush right in, you need to plot how the sun travels through the garden and plan how you will use it at different times of the day, particularly if you are considering investing in hard landscaping.’
Jane McCorkell is a garden designer, landscape architect and landscape horticultural consultant. She has received many accolades for her work, including seven Gold Medals at Bord Bia Bloom.
South West Facing garden
- Back of the house is South-West facing
- 15 x 9m plot
Garden Designer Tips
See Jane’s advice for creating a natural garden.
Try out a green wall and experiment with foliage plants, such as Heuchera varieties, to create a living picture.
Plant deciduous hedges along a post and wire fence to provide extra support in the first couple of years. It stops young plants/whips rocking in the wind.
The wildflower grass area can include all sorts of bulbs or you could try growing some poppies or other annual flowers in compostable pots and planting them into the grass once they are established.
Hero plant 1: Malus domestica 'Elstar'
‘Elstar’ is an apple tree with pale-pink flowers in spring, followed by juicy eating apples in late autumn, perfect for the smaller garden. Position Sun, partial shade. Height: 2/3M Spread: 2M
Hero plant 2: Pittosporum 'Tom Thumb'
This is a compact shrub with a rounded shape, and bears small, dark purple leaves which it holds onto in winter. Position: Full sun, semi shade. Height: 3ft (1m) Spread: 3ft (1m)
This border can be recreated in most gardens and works well in sunny or semi-shaded spots. ‘Plants have greater visual impact when grouped in multiples and the further from the house or main viewing area, the greater the multiple should be,’ advises Jane McCorkell. You can make your own multi-stem tree (a tree with two or more stems) by planting three single-stem small trees in the one hole. ‘Angle and train them outwards over the years to create a focal point,’ says Jane. Installing an uplighter at the base of the tree will have a striking effect in winter.
Amelanchier lamarckii [Multistem]
A small tree with a maximum growth of 8-10 metres with white flowers in spring and stunning Autumn foliage. Also known as Juneberry or Snowy Mespilus. Position: Full sun/Partial shade. Height: 8-10 metres Spread: 4-8 metres
Bergenia 'Baby Doll'
Common name Elephant's Ears, 'Baby Doll' is a compact variety with rounded, bright green leaves, and short sprays of pale pink flowers in spring. Position: Full sun/partial shade. Height 0.1-0.5 metres. Spread: 0.1-0.5 metres
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
This perennial features large, heart-shaped silver leaves edged and veined with green, and clouds of tiny, pale blue, airy flowers in from spring through summer. Position: Part shade. Height: 45cm Spread: 60cm
Also known as Creeping Dogwood, a low, creeping shrubby perennial that makes excellent groundcover in light shade and under tree canopies. White flowers in June. Position: Partial shade, shade. Height: 6" (15cm). Spread: up to 3ft (1m)
Also known as Bleeding Heart, this plant bears arching sprays of dainty, rose-pink, heart-shaped flowers appear in late spring above fern-like, fresh green leaves. Position: full sun or partial shade. Height: 90cm. Spread: 45cm
This is a very striking plant, bearing upright poker-shaped, red-tipped lilac-pink flowers in early and midsummer. Position: Partial shade in moist soil. Height: 50cm. Spread: 30cm
Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign'
Common name Lungwort this variety 'Blue Ensign' has the most striking blue flowers, fading to pink from early spring until summer. Good for pollinators. Position: Partial shade. Height: 0.3m Spread: 0.45m
Commonly called Winter Box this is a winter-flowering evergreen shrub with dark green leaves, bearing sweetly scented, pure white blooms. Position: sun or shade. Height:1.5m. Spread: 2m