City garden - The Urban Jungle - Dublin

This is the garden we designed for a tall period house in Dublin 4. Although thoroughly overgrown and neglected when we first saw it, it contained, in the midst of  it all, three wonderful plants: a Magnolia soulangeana whose upper branches reached the second floor; a wonderful mature Chilean myrtle (Luma apiculata) and a huge tree paeony. The design we came up with worked with these plants, and our goal was to make a place that was lush, exciting and vibrant, but which also met the needs of a young family. Our plans evolved - as all the best ones do - and you can see from the two drawings how the design altered during the design process.

Concept plan

Setting-out / layout plan


Early days - when we first visit the site.

The planting matures: this very under-used grass is Chionochloa flavicans from New Zealand. It takes a couple of years to look like this, but we have found it to be a stunning and easy grass: evergreen, not too vigorous and with gorgeous silky flowerheads.

We recommend that smaller shoots on the Golden bamboo are removed and leaves and twigs are carefully stripped from the lower regions to show off the stems to their full advantage. Also in the picture is Euphorbia myrsinites (ground plant), Banana and Ginger.

The limestone edge makes mowing easy and preserves the all-important soil level for some of the existing plants such as the tree paeony and the Chilean myrtle. Engineering bricks form the riser and a small channel is filled with loose cobbles. Planting includes Tetrapanax rex in the foreground with the huge leaves, Acanthus mollis, Euphorbia wulfenii, as well as ferns and shade-tolerant ground cover perennials.

Kilkenny limestone glistening in the rain, early on before planting fills in.

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The garden as it settles in.