This year, Brian Burke, former Super Garden winner, will return to the show as the new Woodie’s Garden and DIY expert and will join the other judges in selecting which super garden will exhibit at Bloom. Find out a little more about Brian in the interview below:
Can you tell us a little about how you got into garden design?
My background and original qualification is in construction. I was working in Massachusetts in the mid-1990s for a masonry and stone restoration company. A lot of our work at the time was in these fabulous New England gardens and it was that period which ignited my interest in gardening, plants and design in general. Before long I had started my own small landscaping operation doing modest garden makeovers and it has progressed from there.
You won Super Garden in 2015. Can you tell us a little about your experience of being a contestant?
It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I was very ambitious with my design, I gave myself an awful lot of work to do so it was hugely challenging. It was round-the-clock for five weeks, but I was lucky in that I was able to call on some wonderfully talented and reliable friends to help me, and our homeowners could not have been better. The process tests every strand of your skill set; creativity, resourcefulness, management, delegation, budgeting, administration, execution of the work itself as well of course as your competence with the media and being in front of the TV cameras. All the hard work is forgotten though when you hear your name being called. Then you can’t wait to do it all again at Bloom. Totally exhilarating.
How did the collaboration with Woodie’s come about?
Woodie’s, being the principal supporter of Super Garden, would have been familiar with my work on the programme and also my subsequent work at Bloom over the past three years so I guess it made sense to make that connection. Woodie’s are synonymous with Super Garden and I am familiar as being a former winner of the show so in that respect it was a logical link-up.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It can be anything, anywhere, anytime. Sometimes it can be a visual cue; a shape, a piece of packaging, a material, a photograph, an album cover. Sometimes the process can be ignited by the tiniest spark, a spark that could come from a conversation, overhearing something, a fleeting thought, seeing something. It is important to seize on the idea and write it down. I have a file at home full of scraps of paper onto which were hurriedly scribbled all sorts of odds and ends of notes and sketches. They’re all there though, waiting for their time to emerge and come to life. Ideas never come when you sit down at your desk, they arrive at inopportune moments like when you are in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket, waiting at the school gate for the kids or driving. The voice recorder on the phone is invaluable in these situations. I hate forgetting a good idea, as happens sometimes
Do you have a favourite garden? What / where would your dream garden be?
My favourite ever Show Garden was Oliver and Liat Schurmann’s large garden at Bloom 2017 which was based on the landscape of the west of Ireland. During the latter stages of last year’s build I used to go down and just gaze across it, to lose myself briefly in its beauty. It was a form of spiritual refuelling. My favourite real-world garden belongs to the house where we used to live, in Medford, Massachusetts. Mature oak trees, tree ferns, twenty types of Hosta, antique paving, cedar screens, Boston ivy. It had it all. Someone else is enjoying it now. Although I shouldn’t be too wistful, my current garden down in Laois is slowly but steadily taking shape. I will love that one just as much soon.
How will you be collaborating with Woodie’s at Bloom?
As well as building the Woodie’s show garden I am thrilled to be joining the judging panel of Super Garden for 2018. As you know, the winner is announced on the live broadcast from the opening evening of Bloom so I’m really looking forward to being a part of all that. I’m sure that there will also be plenty of appearances on the various Woodie’s stages and exhibits over the five days.