It's been a busy month here at Moss & Green, with a lot of different media projects on the go. We were delighted to be featured in the March edition of Woman's Way magazine and we were also interviewed by Irish TV for the popular County Matters series on Sky 191. Filmed at the glorious Mount Usher Gardens, in Co Wicklow, Conal talks you through some of his favourite plants, as well as sharing some of his horticultural secrets.
Click on this link to view the episode. http://www.irishtv.ie/wicklow-matters-28/
I love growing fruit in my vegetable garden and have had great success with everything from peaches to strawberries. Mostly, I like to make homemade jams, when I'm feeling in need of a little comfort food. But for something a little more indulgent, this organic blueberry cheesecake is surprisingly easy to make and never fails to impress. In recent years, the humble blueberry has created quite a buzz with research claiming that it aids cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and aging.
They are surprisingly easy to grow and there's nothing more satisfying than simply plucking a handful from your garden and returning to the kitchen where they can be sprinkled on top of porridge, added to a smoothie or used in simple jams . This recipe is in fact originally from Finland, where they certainly know a thing or two about using their abundance of berries. In the soft fruit season, you can use a myriad of fruits from your organic garden gooseberries, redcurrants, raspberries equally effectively to create this tasty dish.
The fact that it uses natural fruit sugar instead of normal sugar means that the flavour of the fruit is accentuated – something which many of our top chefs in the UK & Ireland have been using for some time.
250g self-raising flour
100g Fruit sugar ( available in any health food store)
2 egg yolks
25g Fruit Sugar
2 egg whites
50g Fruit Sugar
200g cream cheese
½ teaspoonful vanilla sugar
1. In a bowl, cut the butter into small pieces and then add flour and rub fat into it until it turns into fine breadcrumbs.
2. Mix together the fruit sugar and egg yolks and 4 tablespoons of water.
3. Add to flour and mix to a soft doug but if it's still a little dry add a tablespoon of water.
4. Spread the mixture into a spring clip tin with a diameter of 20 cm. Sprinkle the blueberries and fruit sugar on top of it.
5. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add the fruit sugar and beat for one minute.
6. In a bowl beat the cream cheese and then stir in the egg whites.
7. Spread the mixture over the blueberries. Bake at fan oven 180C: electric oven 200°C: gas mark 6 for 40 - 45 minutes.
8. Leave to cool and serve with a scattering of fresh organic blueberries to garnish. Delicious.
Be honest.What one of us hasn't dreamed at least once of waking up in a sun-filled room overlooking a garden in which everything is green, blooming - in other words, perfect? With a little effort, you can wake up in that sunny room, stroll outside to smell the roses, kick off your sandals to feel the cool grass under your feet, even pull up a wicker chair in a shaded corner to read The Irish Times or sip a cup of coffee and listen to the birds sing.
As a professional garden designer, it’s not only my job to create the kind of dream gardens that my clients fantasise about - but also to envision every possibility of the mature landscape in years to come. Designing outdoor spaces can be enormously rewarding but it needs planning to make it work properly. Firstly take a look at the shape of your existing garden and what is already there. Do you have a long rambling garden? Or perhaps it's small and square? Is there a feature, such as a pond or large tree, that you would like to incorporate into the new design? Do you want to create something daringly different?
Take into account the areas of light and shade - are there sunny or darker nooks and crannies which you want to take advantage of? All these factors will help you create the style, theme and shape of your new design. However, one of the unspoken secrets professional landscapers have is using layers in their designs. If you have any doubts about that, go to some of the larger homes and gardens and become inspired by their efforts to create a seamless yet apparently effortless look of colour, texture and layers. Alternatively visit small well designed spaces and sunny courtyards . Where ever you go in successful gardens you will see layers of planting interspersed with interesting furniture or ornamentation.
Living in Co Wicklow, I'm never short of inspiration. Wicklow has a collection of some of Ireland's best Gardens. All are of outstanding natural beauty and diversity and each one distinctive in terms of mood and theme. At my doorstep, I have Mount Usher, Killruddery, June and Jimi Blake's Gardens and the glorious Powerscourt Estate and Kilmacurragh what do they all have in common? You guessed it - layers and planning.
Of course, there are many other factors to be considered other than just using layers of foliage, but this is the one that will help to give your garden a professional appearance. So if you think your humble back garden can't look cultured and elegant think again! You could start by using large shrubs in the background and don't forget to add height with tall trees, but in every part of the design there will be other shrubs and flowers in front of those.
One simple design that could be used in a smaller landscape and get a symmetrical appearance would be to have the tallest shrubs say, towards your back wall (maybe Red-Tipped Photinia or a Privet Hedge with 2-3 tall Cypress-type trees or Thuja smarag either in front of the hedge or off to the side, and then in front of that could be some Japanese Boxwood, kept to about a 4-6' height (depending on the height of the hedges towards the back) and then to add contrast to the layers, maybe a statue or water feature surrounded by smaller shrubs (such as Ilex variegata or dwarf Pittosporum or Herbacious planting as an alternative).
Trees and hedging serve a number of obvious purposes in the garden. Casting shade, blocking wind, noise reduction, boundaries, and point of interest are just a few that spring to mind. Once I have decided where I’ll need trees for these purposes in a garden, I have a number of considerations before I can designate their permanant home. Planting without really thinking about the space that the mature full grown plants and trees will occupy can become more than just an inconvenience. It can be expensive.
While occasional deep watering, as opposed to regular shallow watering, will help stop top rooting trees, some trees are still determined to seek out other sources of water which may be on the surface or moist areas under structures.The seeking roots of large trees are an extraordinary force that can break paths, foundations, and even jolt walls out of place. This is the biggest and most costly mistake I see. One word of advice - know your landscaping trees before you plant them next to your house.
Next you want to create a point of interest. What about creating a spot for a waterfall? With a re-cycling watefall, Or a water feature. Pick interesting rocks or boulders of varying sizes, arrange them to cascade down a slope, add plants and water. Viola! Or, how about a a natural stone path winding through your garden? Or a dry stone wall of native stone to create interest?
I hope you have found my tips helpful and will apply it in your own landscape design. I think you will see an immediate difference! Always remember a garden is just a series of outdoor rooms awaiting decoration.