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Caragh Nurseries leaves its mark on Westgrove

"The brief was always a difficult one, given the location of the hotel and the small amount of garden space, but with some clever planting, we think we nailed it." - Jo McGarry, director of Caragh Nurseries, on the Westgrove Hotel project. Photo: Caragh Nurseries.

Caragh nurseries was recently tasked to create a garden at the entrance of the Westgrove Hotel in Clane, Co Kildare, here is how the team at Caragh Nurseries got on.



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29 August 2019

We spoke with Jo McGarry, director of Caragh Nurseries – who established the nursery with her husband Ian in 2004 – to get an insight into the project and what this niche market has meant for them and their business.

Q. When did the project’s first consultation begin?

Last year probably at this stage, our first meeting included several other gardens within the hotel too, including a roof garden and another entrance – the first round of plans included all of these. After our second meeting, we prioritised what we saw as the priority areas – stage two and three are coming, and hopefully they will all be completed by summer 2020.

Q. Was the design brief a challenge – did you make use of the new design studio?

The brief was always a difficult one, given the location of the hotel and the small amount of garden space, but with some clever planting, we think we nailed it.

The initial meetings with The Westgrove management took place before the Design Studio was completed, but when it came to showing the client the mature trees – justifying their inclusion, and in some cases their price – Caragh Nursery Park was an ideal place to show these off, and they were happy to include all the trees we recommended when they saw them in this setting and could appreciate their scale.

Q. What was the variety of plants that went into the build?

We used a wide variety of plants in the garden, given The Westgrove’s position on a ring-road in Clane with the gardens being along the perimeter, we needed layers to screen and block noise, especially when it came to the main hotel entrance and then the wedding garden.

We knew we needed water, music, and plants that soak up noise. We used three really stunning Quercus Koster, at seven metres tall; a selection of mature Pine trees, at six to eight metres tall; a large Liriodendron Tulipifera and a London Plane; two Evergreen Magnolias, again at six metres and higher; and a layer of Bamboo for their rustling noise.

The next layer was more flowering and ornamental trees: a stunning table-top cherry, two Parrotia Persicas, two large topiary five-ball totems, and an array of Japanese Maples.

The layer after that was shrubs for year-round structure which included plenty of box shapes, Euonymous cones, and several half standards in Prunus Lusitanica, Ilex Nellie Stephens, and Photinia Red Robin; then, the real colour, with a good deal of herbaceous planting, especially in the wedding garden – at least three varieties of hydrangea.

We are delighted with how it turned out and does exactly as it was intended, but more importantly, our client is happy, and has had so many lovely comments from his customers and future brides and that really is what matters.

Q. What were the challenges and successes with the project – were there any surprises?

Our main challenge is always the build of any project – we’re not landscapers – we have two designers so we understand the process of the build and can advise on that, but we don’t get involved in any hard landscaping. We are always on the look out for good landscapers for this work.

We are a nursery foremost and we love growing trees and plants to use in designs such as this one, and we are happy to work with good landscapers who can execute the entire build project. The problem is finding those guys, they are all so busy and booked for months ahead.

Q. How has the business in hospitality and hotels grown for Caragh Nurseries – do you see this branch of the business growing?

The hospitality business has been really good for us; we have designed, supplied and planted, and usually project managed, some fantastic hotels, spas, and commercial properties. They really showcase our product and they are great to work on, giving us the freedom to design something really special that is also productive for the businesses. This area of this business has become a specialism of ours and hotel owners now come to us firstly for our advice and expertise – it’s very flattering. We have a good number of projects at all stages in this sector and that is growing all the time.

For prospective projects, you can reach out to Jo via email.

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