From the TV Room at night
LANDSCAPE DESIGN FOR A REFURBISHED ‘ARTS AND CRAFT’ STYLE HOUSE IN LIMERICK, IRELAND.
General Concept at Shamrockville
In the first instance, good landscape design is principally about space. There are essentially two types of space in any landscape: ‘static space’ and ‘active space.’ ‘Static space’ inspires movement and activity and ‘static space’ inspires repose. Both types of space are present at Shamrockville. The overall concept of the garden design follows classic and recognised principles of landscape design, that is the design moves seamlessly from symmetrical and asymmetrical formality near the house through ornamental landscape to semi-ornamental and then into naturalistic landscape.
Static spaces at Shamrockville are……
• The Gazebo;
• The Woodland Seating Space;
• The Ornamental Garden;
• The Sunken Terrace.
Active spaces at Shamrockville are……
• The Driveway;
• The Grand Arrival Zone;
• The Rose Garden;
• The Woodland Garden;
• The Sunken Terrace.
NB: Note that the Sunken Terrace is both and active and passive space and its dual use is suggested by the hard landscape detailing where both clear transition and seating space is implied. While the nature of the Sunken Terrace is linear indicating transition laying the paving at 45 degrees creates an illusion of a wider space. The scale and strength of the linear paving detail in flag stone and red brick suggest and incite movement, while the small unit sett paving incites repose in the seating spaces.
One of the main underpinning philosophies of landscape design is that of ‘sequential journey.’ A landscape design is a four-dimensional art form which is not just to be viewed through observation, but to be experienced via movement through a four-dimensional series of spaces. That movement is called sequential journey and we direct that journey by creating in the psyche of the user via certain stimuli in the landscape namely: focal points to attract the observer, and tension points to create mystery. Focal points at Shamrockville are……
• The Font and Central Pool in the Arrival Space;
• Th Armillary Dial and the Birdbath in the Sunken Garden;
• The Gazebo and Fire Pit;
• The three classic Sculptures in the Woodland Garden;
• Shamrockville itself.
The sequential journey at Shamrockville is dynamic and leads from the dwelling into the Ornamental Garden and down into the naturalistic Woodland Garden. Exiting from the Kitchen Dining Room doors the user is encouraged to venture into the Sunken Terrace via the Birdbath which is enframed by the partial ceiling plane of the Pergola. Birds will add animation to this vista. From here there is the invitation to sit in the Sunken Terrace or to dine alfresco weather permitting. The Sunken Terrace is a secure and comfortable space. This has been created by sinking the terrace into the ground and the use of heat absorbing and retentive brick and stone to maximise on sunshine creating a microclimatic heat trap. The strategic location was chosen to capitalise on sunshine, but also to become part of the living unit linking house and garden together: a seamless transition from the total hard enclosure and security of the dwelling to a partial enclosure of the terrace space with both hard and soft materials. A small herb garden is located for convenience close to the Kitchen and above the retaining wall of the Sunken Terrace for ease of harvesting.
Maximum privacy is afforded by the Sunken Terrace and the Pergola especially during the establishment phase of the peripheral planting thus limiting intrusive views in from surrounding windows. The peripheral planting having approximately 40:60 aptitudes filters winds to further enhance the micro-climate of the terrace. Seating is available in sun, shade or partial shade at the different times of day: morning to the right in the image above and evening to the left with dappled shade beneath the pergola for midday. The backing walls and planting creates a strong secure space to sit and relax, converse or simple read. Once the peripheral planting has grown sufficiently temporary loungers could be used for sunbathing on opportune days and the sunbather would be totally concealed beneath the walls as well as being warm and protected.
The Celtic cross design in the paving adds a cultural link to the client’s Irish heritage while visually anchoring the Armillary Dial, Birdbath and Dining Table to the terrace surface. The terrace strongly reflects the Arts and Crafts style of garden design. The intermediate focal point of the Armillary Dial leads the user to the Gazebo a major focal point and centre of use in the garden – a new and exciting place to enjoy throughout summer and to delight guests during parties and entertaining.
The Gazebo has been designed to link to the dwelling with red brick piers, and to continue the dynamic hard element contrast in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement of garden design. Once more sinking the Gazebo down into the ground provides very secure space and capitalisation of heat. The fire pit is protected from the elements of the Irish weather thus preventing a sudden downpour from wreaking an evening by the open fire. The sense of place here in the protection of the Gazebo is very strong and we call this sense of place ‘Prospect-Refuge.’ Essentially prospect-refuge is to see and be secure without being seen or vulnerable. We gravitate to such places subconsciously and psychologically because it is engrained in our psyche from our ancestral time in the dangers of the savannah where having prospect-refuge meant the difference between life and death.
The Gazebo has been designed to accommodate ample guests and to be a most comfortable warm seating space to view the garden and to hold friendly gatherings with a glass of wine and nibbles. Drawn by the focal point of one of the classic sculpture set down the slope enframed by overhanging trees, perhaps a replica of Venus de Milo, moving from the Gazebo the sequential journey leads down a curvilinear sinuous mown grass path between flowering meadow grass into the Woodland Garden beneath the delightful ambience of dappled shade from the large existing trees.
Tension points of planting in the Woodland Garden create desirable mystery and invitation to explore by partial occlusion and two other classic sculptures, perhaps replicas of Eve and Aphrodite’s which leads the user onwards through the sequential journey towards the Tranquil Seating Area enframed by two beautiful Magnolia trees just below the balustrade of the Arrival Zone. The implied movement through the Woodland garden is slow due to the sinuous curves of the meadow areas. Here sat on the stone benches of the Tranquil Seating space in the dappled shade surrounded by greenery and wildflowers one can be alone with one’s thoughts or have a private conversation. The gently cascading water of the font into the circular pool above masks conversation from any who might arrive there.From here steps lead up to the grand Arrival Zone with its classic and formal patchwork planting and the grand focal point of the font and pool.
Ample and easy turning is the practical backbone of the Arrival Space, but it is designed to be a ‘wow’ factor to do justice to the architecture of the front building façade. Guests arriving for a garden party of a night of wine and cheese can park comfortably in the overspill parking and move directly into the garden towards the gazebo beneath pink flowering cherry trees. From here the sequential journey naturally leads one full circle back towards the Gazebo nested within delightful flowering cherry trees. And from there back on to the seclusion and comfort of the Sunken Terrace where the Armillary Dial of brass glistens in the sunlight. Or perhaps one would take the path adjacent to the left of the terrace to smell the Roses. Alternatively, the sequential journey can be walked in reverse exiting from the grand front door towards the font and pool and down gentile stone steps beneath beautiful flowering cherries, between the balustrade into the Tranquil Seating space below.
The Irish climate is such that for much of the year the garden will be out of practical use, however the landscape has been designed to capitalise or garden vistas from within the comfort of the house. In this respect the garden then becomes a four-dimensional living canvas enframed by the boundaries of the windows from within: intrinsically more dynamic than any piece of framed art.
Planting Design Concept at Shamrockville
The garden has been designed with all-year-round interest and dynamic plant associations harmonising leaf colour, texture and form with flower colour and vegetative structural integrity.
From a planting perspective garden spaces are synchronised for seasonal effect to ensure a strong all-year-round impact rather than a bitty sporadic effect. The garden season kicks off in late January and February with very early tasteful daffodils and snowdrops in association with Hamamelis cultivars. Ground hugging Anemones burst into flower in spring and flowering cherries and magnolias intensify the spring and early summer effect with the dual emergence of lush green foliage.
Summer brings the bulk of the flowering with Roses and many other plants like Campanula and Aquilegia and Hydrangea, but there are many more. Groundcovers reduce maintenance and create a pleasing foil for bigger flowering plants while ensuring a desirable continuity within the planting design composition.
Formal hedging creates a strong green architecture and informal screens create the harmonising structure and backdrop to the intimate garden spaces. To the foreground beautiful stem effect enhances the scene.
Many of the selected plants display amazing Autumn colour and these have been grouped for best effect and dynamic interplay between red, orange and yellow foliage which becomes laminose in Autumn sunshine.
A good balance of evergreen and deciduous plant material work in association to maintain a good winter effect augmented by the bark effects of specific trees and shrubs.