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WILD FIVE ・ w|ė meet five amazing creatives who draw inspiration from the beauty of wild nature

WILD FIVE ・ w|ė meet five amazing creatives who draw inspiration from the beauty of wild nature

Being inspired by the wild is one of the most connected ways to work creatively. Not only does this result in wonderful connected ideas it is often rooted in passion and joy. In this months inaugural issue and the first mini interview series I meet some incredibly talented people who kindly shared their typical day, their inspired work and what keeps them going right now and more….. spoiler alert…. it’s got something to to wild nature!

We talk to the award winning landscape designer and Chelsea Flower show winner James Basson and hear about his deep connections to landscape an its essence. We discover BigCityGardener Timothy Hammond’s earliest garden memory and how to follow his advice to #JustGrowit! Fashion designer Sara O’Neill inspires us with her magical Éadach visions and shares her amazing process and architect and TV presenter Denise O’Connor tells us about how wild nature plays in her stunning architecture. Finally Mags Riordan of Bumblebee flower farm calls us to improve our everyday with a new approach to living. Living Wild.

Read on for a massive fix of the beauty of wild!

James Basson 

Award winning garden designer

Q.What does your typical day look like? 

There is no typical day but it tends to be …Read -work -drive -stop -draw- walk -look -sleep

Q.Your amazing work specialises in sustainable, ecological and low maintenance gardens. What are you working on right now?

The Artist Gardener and their role in the evolution of the garden.  Gardens as process.  Evolutive garden Design with maintenance in mind.  Process as creation. The role of time on the garden.

Chinese shows and permanent projects.  Sculptural conceptual work which explores these themes more dramatically.

Interactive Database development to take planting design into the dynamic process of complex plant selection and ecological interaction that is launching soon.

The language of Perfume and its translation into landscape and planting design. Then, music especially the time score.

Landscape archaeology.  The memory of landscape.

Q.What role does the wild play in your work?

It is the source.

Q.How do you personally connect to nature on an everyday basis

Walking, drawing, sleeping outside when I can. As well as exploring new landscapes,  I like to study the same landscape throughout the seasons and the years to see the evolution on a micro and macro scale.

Q.Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us in the times we live in now and if so why?

We are aware of all we are losing.  It is a new romantic period we want to capture.  Lose our selves celebrate and revel in this thing that we are losing our grip on.  At a time when we have never understood more.  The wild, if there is such a thing is no longer other.  We have understood that we are wild.  We just lost our way through fear and greed.

Q. What does your own dream garden look like? Anything goes!

Beautiful desolation

Q. Do you have any advice for others to connect to nature and the wild more every day?

Walk draw sleep when you can.  Wilderness is everywhere it is the scale of it which differs. . Take the time to slow down and observe.

Q. Your top 3 favourite flowers/plants

  • Juniperus oxcederus for its genetic plasticity
  • Pistacea lentiscus for its summer green in the harshes of environments
  • Polypodium cambricum for its temporal permanence.

About: James Basson is an award winning British born garden designer and gardener based in the South of France. His firm Scapedesign specialises in dry, sustainable gardens that are inspired by his passion for the natural landscape.  Instagram @jamesscapedesign

Timothy Hammond -Bigcitygardener 

Educator and Gardener 

Q. Your typical day 

My typical day has changed ever since COVID-19 hit.  I start the day in my garden and end the day in my garden.  In between, I spend a good portion of my day helping home school my kids, working at my community garden, and any other garden project I have on the menu.

We just had a once-in-a-century freeze here in Houston, so right now, I am working on replanting and revitalizing the gardens that were damaged. 

Q.What inspired you to start helping others with your knowledge?  

My desire to see more people garden.  I feel gardening is the best hobby in the world.  Besides the produce you receive, it also great for your mental health.  Also, I think gardening is a gateway to caring about other environmental issues plaguing our planet.  

Q.What’s your earliest memory in the garden? 

Honestly, I am not sure.  I know that both my parents are avid gardeners, who had me in the garden when I was young.  I remember getting in trouble for throwing my mother’s tomatoes at birds on my neighbor’s roof when I was 8.  

Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us in the times we live in now and if so why? 

I think the relationship with nature is one of the most important things.  With advancements in technology, it seems as if people forget about the importance of nature and all it provides for us.  Reestablishing this connection can help us notice and develop plans to  solve the problems plaguing the world.

What does your dream garden look like?

I think every garden is beautiful in its own way.  Somedays I like raised beds, somedays I like in-ground beds.  If I had to choose, I would say an organic garden, with healthy, rich soil with a pond or water feature for the beneficial insects.  And a greenhouse big enough to start all of the necessary plants for the garden.

Do you have any advice for others to connect to nature and the wild more every day? 

Start a garden  Regardless of where you live or the amount of space you have available, start a garden.

Your top 3 favourite flowers/plants/edibles

  • Calendula
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peppers

About: Timothy Hammond is an avid gardener who has been gardening since he was a child. He attributes his passion for gardening to his parents, both avid gardeners.  With an infectious love and passion for organic gardening and soil health, Timothy believes everyone can garden.  This love led to Big City Gardener’s creation ( in 2017. Big City Gardener’s mission is to get as many people as possible to JUST GROW IT, which means growing their food. 

Instragram @bigcitygardener

across all social media platforms.

Sara O’Neill 

Designer/ artist- Éadach by Sara O’Neill

Q. What’s your typical day?

I’m not a natural early bird because I often draw til after midnight, but I’m making the effort to get up early, coffee & news before walking with our retriever Blyton on the beach or in the forest. The rest of the day can vary.. currently packing Éadach orders, drawing and working on new prints, working on interior projects feature heavily. 

Q.What are you working on right now?

I am currently drawing flowers for a new print.. (poppies today)  the ‘Banbha’ print, in homage to one of the patron goddesses of Ireland that my baby niece was called after.

Q.What role does the wild and nature play in your beautiful work?

It’s hugely important. Vital really. I launched Éadach after moving back to the northcoast from Belfast. Being here on the coast brought back the stories my granny told me as a child, the stories we all share, myths and legends of this island. I started illustrating the stories, and combining the pencil drawings with the incredible spectrum of colours of the coast, Éadach was born. Often nature is part of the story that inspires my work, and usually a recurring motif in the print as well.. flowers and animals. On a personal level I find being in nature very inspiring and it encourages my creativity. 

Q. I loved spending time with you in your hometown before all this madness and saw how connected you were to nature. How do you personally connect to nature on an everyday basis now that we’re in lockdown?

Loved having you here! We are spoilt rotten in that we have the beach and a forest on our doorstep, so I walk in one or the other every day. Although we don’t have a garden here I manage to cram quite a lot of plants and flowers into the apartment and balcony and love working on the garden in The Surfer’s House (our holiday rental) My enthusiasm definitely outstrips my expertise in this area but I’ve always loved gardening since I was a kid. I just love how you can put in a little bit of effort and you are repaid so many times over with beautiful blooms and growth. I also love wild critters and birds and have my ‘pet’ crows (nicknamed The Morrigan after one of my prints) that visit the balcony for nuts & seeds and as many bees and butterflies as I can attract. 

Q. Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us and if so why?

Absolutely. I think it gives us time to slow down, relax, recharge, reflect, focus and find perspective.

Q. What does your dream garden look like? Anything goes!

I adore secret walled gardens, cottage gardens, wild gardens. Somewhere peaceful, unstructured, old fashioned, with an overgrown look. Filled with blousy, scented blooms, trees, long grasses, bees, birds and butterflies. Weathered vintage furniture and antique textiles. Somewhere to read, eat and snooze, where time seems to stand still.

Q. Do you have any advice for others to connect to nature and the wild more every day?

Depending on your location it can be effortless or seemingly almost impossible to connect with nature. It’s easy for those of us who live on the coast or in the countryside or near parks but what I find really inspiring is to see people in cities and built up areas add a little bit of wild and nature to their surroundings .. pots on a doorstep, a window box, a balcony garden, a rooftop garden. In south Belfast residents have cleaned up and planted the alleyways and entries at the back of their houses and created incredible shared garden space for their local community. There’s a masked guy called The Phantom Planter who is planting trees across NI, ‘environmental graffiti’. I love stuff like that.. guerilla gardening, adding a bit of wild and nature and life to somewhere that has had nature taken from it. Imagine if every house and building and structure had a bit of a garden, a couple of pots or window boxes of flowers.. what could that do for the environment, for wildlife, for mental health?

Q. Your top 3 favourite flowers/plants and why?

Ahhh jaysus. Almost impossible to pick just three! Can I have ‘blossoming trees’ as one? Cherry and apple blossom, magnolia, lilac, jacaranda. I just adore the huge, sudden explosions of colour and beautiful confetti across landscapes and cityscapes, no matter how short lived it is. I love honeysuckle.. the scent on warm summer nights is just gorgeous. And sweetpea.. it reminds me of my grandparents’ and parents’ gardens, is really easy to grow from seed, looks and smells amazing and can keep you in posies all summer long. 

About: Sara O’Neill is a stylist, illustrator, writer and designer whose work has been featured in countless glossy magazine, on major billboard and television campaigns, book and album covers and exhibited worldwide, over the past 13 years. She is a regular contributor to the UK media and was shortlisted as ‘Designer of the Year’ in the prestigious Irish Fashion Innovation Award in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Instagram @saraoneillartist

Denise O’Connor 

Architecture and Interior design

Q. What’s your typical day ?

A typical day during these untypical times is all about managing work and family life from home. I’m an early riser so I’m up before everyone else. I love early mornings when the house is quiet and the sun is just coming up. I always start my day with a coffee listening to the bird song. 

All of my meetings are virtual at the moment so I try to schedule them all for the first half of the day and then keep the afternoons for any work that I have to do. I always make time for a walk during the day, I love walking and spending time outdoors, I’m lucky enought to live near a park which is lovely to spend time in. 

Evenings are spent cooking, I have 2 boys who always seenm to be hungry, and helping my 11 year old with his homework. I try to avoid screens from 8pm. I find it really helps to get a good night’s sleep. I’ve never been much of a night owl and am usually in bed before 10pm.

Q. What are you working on right now?

We have a mixed projects at the moment , we are warning on a number of new housing developments in Dublin as well as a number of private houses, some that I’m particularly excited about are the refurbishment and extension of a beautiful Arts & Crafts home in Greystones, the refurbishment of stunning period home in Donnybrook and a new build home in Orkney in Scotland. 

Q. What role does the wild and nature play in your work?

I’ve always tried to encourage clients to consider their outdoor space when planning a refurbishment or extension.  Not only because the garden is what you will look out onto but by connecting the two areas and treating the space directly outside as another living space not only will you be further extending your home but you will also be adding a lot more value.

I lived in New York and London and in both cities the creative use of whatever tiny patch of available outdoor space was incredible. From striking window boxes, to innovative use and adornment of even the most modest balcony or patio, using the outdoor space to extend the living area was the norm.

In Ireland I feel we are a little spoilt with our gardens. What is considered a small backyard here would be a rather generous plot in other parts of the world, so it’s not surprising that the trend to capitalize on this area of our home has taken a while to catch on. But over the last 12 months there has been a whole new appreciation for our outdoor spaces, Spending time in our gardens and outdoor spaces has been one of the few pleasures we’ve been able to indulge in. 

Q. Do you have any tips on bringing nature into the home?

The best way to bring nature into your home is to try to enhance the connection between inside and outside as much as possible. One way to do this is to create as unified as space as possible. Blurring the lines by continuing floor finishes, wall treatments and roof structures between the two areas so that you can’t easily define where one space ends and the other begins. Running the same or a similar floor tile from inside to outside is a great way to achieve this kind of flow but it’s important that the level from inside to outside is the same to really create a seamless connection.

When you extend your living space outside, you gain additional living space and by carrying the internal finishes outside you create the illusion of both your internal and external spaces feeling larger. Custom built furniture such as benches will feel more integrated than more traditional patio furniture. This is a particularly good idea for smaller gardens and the space under a bench can be used for storage. Integrate planters and lighting to complete the look. 

When choosing colours for your interior taking inspiration from your garden really helps to bring the outside in. Green is a fantastic accent colour and works really well in any room, use it in cushions or art work to instantly give your space the feeling of connecting with the outdoors.  

Q. How do you personally connect to nature on an everyday basis?

I love spending time in my garden, during the warmer months of the year the doors between our living space and garden are permanently open. When we renovated our house a few years ago one of the most important parts of the redesign was to  maximise the connection between inside and outside. This meant making sure that the TV in the living space was not the sole focus. Too often rooms are laid out with all of the furniture facing a wall. So careful planning of  the furniture layout was critical. One of my favourite places to sit now is on the sofa looking out onto the garden. I also love house plants and have lots around the house which really bring the spaces to life.

Q. Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us and if so why?

Connecting with nature is a powerful tool when designing environments that make people feel relaxed. Even a visual connection with nature has been proven to reduce stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate. Our ability to think more clearly improves too because we become more engaged and alert. And best of all our emotions, mood and happiness are all greatly enhanced.

Spending time in nature makes you happy and there’s a scientific reason why. Studies suggest that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety. 

Q. What does your dream garden look like? Anything goes!

I love the gardens of Piet Oudlof,  lots of grasses and soft planting with washes of colour. 

Your top 3 favourite flowers/plants  

This is a tricky one as there are so many that I love. But if I had to choose I’d say

  • Wisteria
  • Lavender
  • Roses

About: Denise O’Connor runs Optimise Design, an award winning Architecture and Interior design company based in Dublin 2 which also features the ‘Optimise Home’ design service which  is an architecture & interior design service created specifically for homeowners.


Instagram @deniseao_connor


Mags Riordan

Bumblebee flower Farm

 Q. How does your typical day look?

“My typical day generally starts at 5am. Morning coffee and I do practise mindfulness and expressing gratitude, no matter how dark things may seem we can always find something to be grateful for. This sets me up for the day. Admin whilst it’s dark, first light I head outside either harvesting, sowing or planting. I make the most of daylight hours at this time of year. I try to get in some reading and/or research during the evenings. Fall into bed and start the whole process again!” 

Q. What are you working on right now?

“General day to day of running the farm, our new Bee-friendly Cut flower Pollinator Planting Plan and planning our new Dahlia field which will provide us with cut flowers in the summer and autumn. The most exciting part of this is it’s the beginnings of our organically produced Dahlia tubers.

Q. Tell us about your amazing new Pollinator plan initiative

The idea is to create bee corridors across the country and give a better understanding of why this is necessary. It’s an easily implemented pollinator-friendly bed for a cut flower garden. It’s also a means of reconnecting people with nature, spending time with their families and getting involved with helping our bees. We’re there to help and provide guidance along the way with a monthly instagram live where we go through the steps and stages with a different guest each month relating to the current topic. It’s all centered around looking at the ‘Whole’ cycle from habitat, to wildflowers that support our indigenous species of wildlife and how we can all help.

Q. What’s your earliest memory in the garden? 

To be frank, I’m not sure if this is a memory or if it was a dream but it’s of being stung by a bee. It was a small courtyard sized garden with a small flower bed on the edge. I reckon I couldn’t have been more than three. Initially I was afraid of bees and wasps but being curious by nature it probably drove my inherent nature to understand why I was and how I could address it.

Q.Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us and if so why?


Reconnecting to nature as a ‘Whole’, understanding our place in the whole cycle and not separate from it. Civilisations have repeatedly caused their own extinction throughout history but this is the first time it’s being done on a global scale. Covid 19 is the precursor of what’s to come if we don’t act now and respect, protect and value what gives us life. 

Reconnecting with our natural world is all we have to do, it’s easy to say but implementing it is going to be a little harder because we need to really look at how we interact now, the consequences of our demand for cheap clothes, food and disposable products is eroding the very things that supports us and give us life. We’ve stripped so much of the forests that support the life giving ecology that sustains us. We’re poisoning our rivers and seas and the phytoplankton that generate 70% of our oxygen. There’s a surplus in the atmosphere right now but we are depleting its ability to regenerate at an alarming rate and once it’s gone… so are we. We are probably the first generation to realise what we are doing to ourselves but we are also the last generation to be able to do something about it. We are faced with tough decisions that are directly related to a regeneration of life or continue on our current trajectory of degeneration destruction and untimely extinction. 

We have the power to influence change. We are stronger than we realise. Our intelligence has the ability to save us. All it requires is a change in mindset to one that looks at the ‘Whole’  like regenerative agriculture, enterprise and looking at a circular environment. This is what we live by here at Bumblebee Flower Farm and is the essence of all that we do, to improve the quality of life for all living things.

Q. What does your dream garden look like? 

Teaming with life, a celebration of our wild flora and fauna. It’s a bit wild with a little more control in places than what I have at the moment.

QDo you have any advice for others to connect to nature and the wild more every day?

You have to physically get out there into it. Be mindful and present, Look at the detail, watch how insects and birds interact with everything. Listening is really important too. When you realise how the whole web of life supports and nourishes you, you can’t help but respect it and value all forms of life even the bits that might scare you.

Q. What are your top 3 favourite flowers/plants 

Dahlias, nettles and herbs. 

About : Mags is a floral designer passionate about the environment and growing nectar rich flowers that celebrate the seasons. She believes you can cultivate beauty that has a positive and supportive effect on our environment. #BeeKind

Contact/website: (086) 0823318  Instagram @bumblebeefarm_


Thank you to all creatives who kindly shared their creative ideas and processes with me for this interview and supplied their wonderful imagery.

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