Garden design is like theatre, it’s about capturing a mood and taming nature.
It’s about expressing in a very essential and creative way our own sense of form and texture. Whether it’s a balcony, a window box, or a collection of pots by a door – it’s about self-expression and growing things, which is endemic to all of us.
My childhood summer holidays were always spent in the west of Ireland, particularly in the southwest of Kerry, where I experienced some of the most beautiful sub-tropical gardens – among them Glanleam, Dereen, Derrynane, Rossdohan and Garnish Island.
My mother was an avid gardener and photographer, so together we visited these magical places often. To me, they encapsulated fantasy, sensuality, theatre and a whole range of visceral emotions.
Although I have been gardening and working in one way or another with plants and nature since leaving school in 1980, I only began designing gardens in 2000.
Over 10 years as a greensman in the film industry, and working with some extraordinarily gifted production designers, helped me to gain the confidence to make a reality of my ideas.
I believe we are all innately creative. My influences are many and varied – wild places where nature runs riot, Robinsonian gardens, a cut-away bog in Westmeath, a suburban front garden, the formal cloisters of the Alhambra, even the over the top formality of Versailles.
Garden design is very site-specific. As I mature and learn from my experiences and mistakes, I try not to have too obvious a signature. I respond to the needs and desires of clients and work with the landscape, nature and the atmosphere of the site. An aspect of my work that I really enjoy is collaboration, whether with architects, designers or plants people.