A Look Around Helen Turkington's Dream Garden With Pool in County Dublin - The Gloss Magazine

A Look Around Helen Turkington’s Dream Garden With Pool in County Dublin

Helen Turkington’s garden feels like a little piece of Provence …

When interior designer Helen Turkington viewed the gorgeous Georgian house in Kilternan that she and her husband Garvan Walsh would eventually buy, the large garden completely surrounded by stone walls, with outbuildings oozing potential, outdoor pool and a paddock for ponies, was a big draw. But it needed some work and was put on the back burner for a few years as Helen got to grips with the five-bay, two-storey house, built in 1757, and worked her particular magic to make it the comfortable and glamorous house it is today.

Those few years gave Helen plenty of time to contemplate the garden: “I knew I definitely didn’t want a formal, parterre style: I wanted it to be less fussy than that, more country-style.” When she and her husband were ready to start, they enlisted the help of Ian McGarry of Caragh Nurseries in Naas who agreed that a simple, easy-to-maintain scheme was best. (Helen runs her interior design company from studios in Dublin and London and didn’t have a lot of time for gardening.)

Helen wears a kaftan by her sister Rae Feather; www.raefeather.com

“From the backdrop of the Dublin mountains to the traditional stone wall that is higher than most, this garden gives the visitor a real feeling of being grounded,” says Ian. “We chose to compliment this gently, not over-plant or take away from the existing beauty of the garden. We created a very simple planting scheme of yew balls and blue hydrangea but used them in a very strong repetitive pattern. We planted jasmine to scramble over walls of the building to soften it.”

There were practical considerations too: occasional local visitors were inclined to overstay their welcome – deer, that is. “We suggested that instead of adding fences, hedges or more walls,” Ian says, “that we used the more traditional method of a ha-ha, which creates a barrier while maintaining uninterrupted views over the paddock: this has worked really well and ensures that deer don’t feed on the new plants.”

Next in line for attention was the secluded pool area where Ian had the opportunity to create a Mediterranean-inspired garden. “Olives and lavender, as well as Helen’s favourite hydrangeas feels lush and soft. On a warm sunny day, you could be in Provence, with the scent of the lavender and the colour palette of blues and greys.”

The pool area continues to be a huge draw, unsurprisingly. Helen describes how her three kids entertain their friends on sunny days – “It gets the sun all day; sometimes there are 20 of them at the pool!” – and how she is gradually working on the building beside the pool so that they can be fully independent from the main house. Given the level of use, the outdoor furniture needed to be practical too, and naturally, beautiful, to meet Helen’s high standards. Jo McGarry of Finn & Elder, a sister company of Caragh Nurseries, has been designing teak furniture – tables, chairs and loungers with a spare, simple profile and deep outdoor cushions in a range of pretty colours – and they are now for sale on her site at www.finnandelder.com.

“With modern living,” says Jo, “there’s a more integrated inside-out approach which blurs the lines between the garden and the family kitchen and dining spaces. A lounge set or dining table creates a second sitting or dining space.”

Helen likes how the simplicity of the furniture allows it to blend in with both an urban or country garden: “It has a fine profile and makes a statement while it is simple. Plus, the cushions sit extremely well, which can be a bugbear with some garden furniture. I chose the vanilla-coloured cushions as I wanted to use my own outdoor cushions with the set.”

Yes, pretty garden, pretty pool, smart outdoor furniture – all that remains are the finishing touches – provided by Helen’s new collection of cushions in stain-resistant, water-repellent and fade-resistant outdoor fabric. The ikat cushions come in three blues, three greens and three naturals and all have pretty cording. Cushions measure 55cm x 55cm and cost €65; www.helenturkington.com. “I always use these fabrics in clients’ homes abroad as they feel as good as ordinary cushions but won’t fade in bright climates. My Irish-based clients have been asking for these cushions, so we are glad to say they are all available now, just in time for the bank holiday.” And just in time for the next influx of hot, hungry and thirsty teenagers delighted to find a little South of France in a corner of Kilternan.


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