Building a Garden, Creating a Space

Prompted from several different sources, I’ve recently been ruminating over spaces: the ones we inhabit, the ones we create around us. Sacred spaces, holy places where we breathe and create and reflect, like Eden, a sacred space for friendship and walking in the cool of the evening. And liminal spaces, thresholds, where we may pause, where we move between places. (Whenever I go into a room and forget why I’m there, I say to myself ‘liminality’ – did you know that’s why we forget what we went to get? It’s the crossing through that flicks a switch in our brains. Just going through a door makes a difference).

And with these thoughts of sacred and liminal in my head, I continue the creation of our new garden space. With damp weather, holidays and work, the work is not at the pace that I hoped it would be, yet there is a solidity and steadiness in the work, digging out weeds and feeding the soil (I’ve been using the wonderful compost from my own bins, a bag of manure, and epsom salts: read about that here), before lawn and new plants become rooted and grow.

While clearing weeds, I pulled this mutant morning glory from a shrub: I’ve never seen anything like the stem on this! It’s like all the stems fused together rather than twining themselves around each other forming a sort of prehistoric rope, like they usually do. Has anyone else encountered something like this? (you can always say it was in a friend’s garden, if you’re reluctant to admit to having the amount of weeds I do).

And on the right is my little friend, who hops around me as I work.

We’re working on a sitting area in the front at the end of our driveway. We’re adding a wooden panel and a bench, and with the plants already there, making it a little more private and engaging, somewhere to enjoy the evening sun. Our garden is a bit small for creating those wonderful secret rooms and inviting corners that gardeners love to create, so we’re trying to add in what we can.

For now, the new patio and paths are in place. Below is the front.

On the left: the sad before. Can you tell we have two swings in this tree? Not great for the grass, but great for the craic, and for now we choose fun.

On the right: only took 20 years! We’ve had this idea in mind since we first dug that garden space. The bricks had originally formed the border of the front plot. The white rose bush and hydrangea were gifts from my mother-in-law. They need to be re-located out from under the tree: I think they will flourish better somewhere else.

I’ve been hearing forever about Helen Dillon’s amazing garden in Ranelagh, but I’ve never been to visit. And now, just before it’s almost too late (the house is sold so the garden is only open until the end of September), we finally made it to see this Dublin city oasis. It was a relaxing time, despite lots of other visitors with the same idea as us. “I’ve told people to come after 4.00,” said Helen’s husband Val as he met us at the front door, “but no one is listening.

“Have you been busy?” we asked.

“Not for the last 20 years!” was the response. “But they’ve all decided to come now.”

Helen says in the video interview (see the ‘house is sold’ link) that she uses large pots for many of her plants where they are ‘like actors waiting to enter’. When they come into their own, she pulls them ‘to centre stage.’ You can see some of the pots on her beautiful terrace below.


For now I’ll leave you with a few more glimpses of this sacred space she has been creating for 44 years, and I’ll go tend to mine.




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