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Create a Lush Celtic Garden Oasis

Updated on November 11, 2013

A relaxing Celtic garden getaway

Few gardens conjure up the tranquility and beauty of a classic Celtic garden---the weathered stone and lush, vibrant groundcover create a beautiful contrast and can rejuvenate even the most weary soul.

Adding a touch of the Celtic to your garden is easy with the right plants and a few inspiring decor pieces, but don't overdo the accessories. Let the natural beauty of the greenery be your guide, and choose a few key plants and trinkets to enhance what you've got. Above all, be patient! A Celtic garden is just like a fine wine, it only improves with age.

Photo: Enchanted Acorn

irish garden favourites

There are plenty of plants you can choose to give your garden that classic Celtic charm. The easiest way to obtain authentic Irish garden plants is to order from a supplier in the area. Of course, you will need to check compatibility in growing zones with where you live, many plants that are native to some areas simply won't thrive in others.

One of my favourite sites for native Irish sites is dyg.com, they have a great plant selector that includes native plants and plants for certain areas of the garden.

Here are some of my favourite plants for recreating that classic Irish look in your garden:

Garden Plants: Allium schoenoprasum (Chives),Borago officinalis (Borage), Agapanthus africanus

(Cape lily), Armeria maritima (Sea thrift), Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-valley), Crambe maritima (Sea kale)

Shrubs:Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter jasmine), Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Veitchii' (Boston ivy), Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin' ('Glasnevin' potato vine), Vitis coignetiae (Crimson glory vine)

Trees: Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree), Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn),Prunus avium

( Wild cherry), Betula pendula (Silver birch),

lucky clover

What Celtic gardenscape would be complete without clover? There are many species within the trefoil (clover) family, ranging from chartreuse green to deep burgundy! If your climate isn't suitable, you can still have a little pot of clover, perhaps it will bring some luck...

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Celtic Cross Garden Stones and Decor

If you only choose one element to bring a touch of the Irish countryside into your garden, a beautiful garden stone with an intricate knotwork cross is probably th most classic symbol of Celtic culture.

elegant espalier

The classic espaliered tree formation is a wonderful foundation for a Celtic themed garden, and easier than you might imagine. Better Homes & Gardens has a great tutorial on how to make your own, you can follow the classic 'tree of life' or create something all your own.

Check out the Espalier Tutorial right here!

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

a mystical retreat

The key to creating a true Celtic look in your garden is allowing the natural beauty of your plants govern the layout. They are quiet, patient gardens; full of rambling vines and crumbling stonework.

This gorgeous garden look like it took years to slowly grow in, but it was actually built in just a few weeks for the 2007 Philadelphia Flower Show by the amazingTom Fuleky.

Photo: Tom Fuleky

knotwork gardens

Wikipedia Commons

In striking contrast to the rambling roses and free-growing foliage, knotwork gardens bring a little elegance to the soft style of the rest of the garden, HGTT.com has an awesome tutorial right here, on how to design your own and it's very simple with a few contrasting colors of plants.

wild irish roses

Aside from being impossibly romantic; the delicate, ruffled roses found in many traditional Irish gardens are some of the sweetest smelling varieties! Aside from the popular Cabbage Roses, consider the lesser know Alba or the Damask variety.

Roses can take a little time to get going, but are always worth it in the long run and fairly low maintenance once established.

Photos: 1 Old Heirloom Roses

2Wikipedia Commons

3Calder Clark Designs

let dragons watch over your greenery

Dragons have long been associated with Celtic culture, and there are many tales and artworks depicting dragons, almost always associated with the land and natural elements. They were also believed to be gatekeepers to otherwise unreachable worlds and planes of existance.

Sea serpent type dragons are fairly common in Celtic mythology, representing the fluidity of the rivers, oceans and element of water in general. They are easily distinguished from the others by their large wings and the absence of legs, which wouldn't be needed in the water.

A common representation of a Celtic dragon is in a circle, swallowing it's tail, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life and immortality.

If you're curious about Celtic dragon lore, or info on dragons in general, be sure to pop by

Draconika, an awesome site dedicated to all things dragon!

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

DIY celtic patio stones

It's super easy to make your own patio stones either from a kit or with your own mold and cement.

Jumbo Concrete Stepping Stone Mold - Halsta Design
Jumbo Concrete Stepping Stone Mold - Halsta Design

Smaller stepping stone in a double knotwork design

 

greenery in unexpected places

Working with nature is important if you hope to capture the essence of traditional Celtic gardens, and there is nothing fotr carefree and romantic than plants spilling out of crevices in walls, crackes stone and unexpected places. Imagine a garden abandoned and overgrown, with vines trailing up tree trunks and blooms covering stones.

If you garden isn't established enough for these pretty accidents, you can certainly help nature along...try some of these plants to fill in areas along walls, cracks & over rocks.

Alchemilla mollis (Lady's mantle)--- grows well in well drained soil, in cracks and gravel, self seeds over time & spreads nicely.

Campanula portenschlagiana (Dalmatian bellflower)--native to Dublin, where it can be found trailing over the low stone walls. Lovely little purple flowers in the early part of summer, works in sun or partial shade.

Thymus serpyllum 'Coccineus' (Ground cover thyme)---Perfect for dry, well drained soil, in pavement cracks or over rocks. Smells lovely when you brush against the leaves and has plenty of deep red blooms in the summer.

Photos: finegardening.com

Be patient!

The most important element in achieving the peaceful, natural ambiance in a Celtic garden is patience---don't try to do it all at once!

Spend some time in your garden, reflecting on whats there already and what you feel is missing...keeping things natutral looking is preferable than going the artificial route so look for opportunities to use reclaimed wood, old windows and antique garden fixtures whenever possible.

Greenery is more desirable than excessive bright colors, and offers its own opportunity for contrast when trees and shrubs with different patterns and leaf shapes are combined.

Photo: Irish Examiner

DIY Leaf Stepping Stones

If knotwork is too formal for you, consider these delicate leaf stepping stones to add a little touch of whimsy to your garden! The very simple tutorial is here.

Photo: TLC

New Guestbook Comments

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    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 

      4 years ago from Virginia

      Gorgeous! This lens will be featured on our Facebook page on - you guessed it - St. Pat's Day, March 17.

      Come by and take a look!

      "The Green Thumb: A Place For Gardeners To Gather"

    • Hexadecimal LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Hexadecimal LM 

      4 years ago

      @tonyleather: Thanks, me too! Especially anything a little different =]

    • profile image

      tonyleather 

      4 years ago

      Inspirational Lens! I love gardening!

    working

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