To say we were chuffed when European Spa Magazine asked if they could feature a piece on our design at The Galgorm Resort & Spa is an understatement! We could have not have been happier with the piece that describes how we created the garden, what our influences were, how we came up with the design and the process that it took. The gardens really are something Special (even if I say so myself) as the Directors and Owners of the Resort really do give us free reign and the relationship we now have has given us all the confidence that we will give them the garden that they wish for and a whole lot more.
The piece was featured in the June – July 2018 issue and we have given the text below
Galgorm Resort & Spa, Ballymena
The brief for the first Spa garden was Mediterranean with an Irish twist, most of the Spa is outdoors and we had to create a feeling of warmth with texture and planting that you would see in Italy or a similar Mediterranean country while maintaining the beauty of the surroundings. The River Maine is the feature of the hotel gardens as it is a constant wherever you are and the sound and beauty of the river makes a stunning backdrop. We needed to create privacy around some of the riverside tubs but do that without spoiling the vista from other areas, each of the elements of the Thermal Village had to have similar thought put into it, privacy and seclusion is a must. So we set to work in designing a garden that had maturity in its trees and we certainly did that with some of the Olives, Mulberries, Oaks and Fig trees, we added Citrus trees to the Orangery and then individual planting around the tubs. Feature trees rather than mass planting means that the views of the river are maintained but that each aspect and area of the Spa is softened by planting to fill all the senses.
The second Garden was the Serenity Garden and the influence for that one was the original walled garden, whilst there was still Hot tubs in this garden the feel needed to be much more that of relaxation, somewhere to take time out, again we needed enough pockets of interest and places to sit and watch the world go by without feeling that you were in a busy resort, hard to do in such a popular place but we think we managed this by creating individual gardens within the main walled garden. Each Serenity area has planting to create a private sanctuary and again water was an important aspect with a very dramatic water feature in this garden that was commissioned and built locally in Co Armagh. We wanted to keep the theme of Mediterranean warmth with a Northern Irish twist so we created an orchard of apple trees, synonymous with this area of Ireland but planted in a similar style to the vineyards of Mediterranean countries. The walk that takes you around the garden meanders around with plenty of places to stop and take in the beautiful surroundings.
I’d say the style is Modern Eclectic, the most important thing was to create a powerful but restful garden that inspires the sense of relaxation and wellness and we hope that the guests to the hotel and Spa Resort feel that we have met with this brief, the feedback we have had to date is extremely positive and the gardens are unlike any other. The views from the Sauna and the hot tubs are all constant in their feeling of relaxation and that the boardwalk to the Celtic Sauna is non intrusive, softened and all add to the feeling of being at one with these beautiful surroundings. Elements is the most wonderful contemporary building that houses the Halo Dome, it is a completely robed restaurant. A unique structure one of only 5 in the world that offers a sanctuary during your wellness experience through the garden.and really adds to the very unique space that has been created here.
The main challenge to both the Spa garden was creating privacy without ruining the views, discreet pockets of planting have accomplished this. The hotel is very popular and when the new extension to the bedroom wing was carried out we needed to soften the building, make it look like it had always been there with mature Evergreen Magnolia and Evergreen Oaks. We had to be clever not only with our design but in hand picking the right Specimens for each area.
We believe that the design of both Spa gardens work, they work well and the amount of visitors who return back to the resort time and time again is testament to this, people love the Spa and its gardens but most of all the gardens need to ensure that each and every guest feels relaxed and special, that the Spa gardens have benefited them and in terms of our client the hotel owners and Management believe that the gardens we have created add value, guests are blown away by what we have created and return and tell others of this experience.
Each Garden we create has to be individual, unlike any other and we have created that here at The Galgorm Resort, The trees are handpicked, the Olive in the middle of the Spa Garden is 400 years old and we took over a week of searching to find the right one. The features within the Serenity garden were individually designed and commissioned so they really are one of a kind. The planting is a hybrid of two cultures and styles but blends seamlessly in both gardens. The art pieces within the garden were designed by Caragh Nurseries and the The Galgorm and this is collaboration that has evolved into something really very special.