Garden Design Diploma -

Marc O'Neill

Garden Designer

What was your background before KLC?
I wanted to be a Ceramicist but became a Fashion Designer. I still see clothing I have designed on people every day, but nothing compares to creating one piece of art with your own hands. I hope that every garden I design will have something unique like that.

Why did you decide to study Garden Design?
It had been on my mind for years, but I never thought I could do it. Then I started to seriously consider the possibility following Peter Zumthor and Piet Oudolf’s Serpentine Gallery Pavillion. I knew after seeing it, that all I wanted to do was work with planting and architecture.

What did you think of the course?
I knew it would take me out of my creative comfort zone, and that was what I wanted. The tutors expect hard work and to be surprised, and that is what all real clients want. I look back over 11 months of work and know that I have now gained the essential skills to design and plant a garden. I also know that I will spend the rest of my life writing down plant names and wanting to learn more!

What are your design interests/strengths?
I like well edited, forward thinking design that enhances peoples lives. Honest materials handled with skill and a touch of innovation. Strong architecture softened with naturalistic planting. I hope that my work will reflect that as I develop my handwriting.

What plant best represents you?
Salix. Flexible, thrives in challenging conditions, and can be used to draw things.

Which are your favourite gardens?
Mount Usher Gardens, Ireland - A small William Robinson inspired garden that my parents always took me to as a child. I was also fortunate to live near Powerscourt. A beautiful view from its garden.
Chelsea Physic Garden, London - I love this garden for its educational design layout. It’s a fascinating London treasure.

The High Line, New York - Such an iconic example of great architecture and extraordinary planting. I have been so many times, I have lost count, and when they kindly gave me the plant list I could not believe how many plants Piet sourced.

Tom Stuart-Smiths prairie garden - A wonderful, richly layered planting design that is clearly a complex labour of love for Tom.

Who is your favourite designer?
I cannot favour only one. Le Corbusier, Thomas Heatherwick, Yves Saint-Laurent, Jonathan Ive, and Piet Oudolf are some of the designers I love, for how they changed the way we think about design.

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