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Secrets of Co Antrim’s Coronation Garden with creator Diarmuid Gavin

The Coronation Garden, County Antrim

The magnificent Co Antrim structure, boasting bubbles, spinning trees, music and a Strictly-style glitter ball – which was put together in under three months – bears expensive metal centrepieces which read ‘King Charles and Queen Camilla’.

But, as the celebrity gardener explained, the original ornate signage plan for the Hazelbank pavilion in Newtownabbey only mentioned the new monarch and the date of his coronation, May 6.

Designer Diarmuid who has been living in Newtownabbey during the build, however, made a unilateral last-minute decision to change the wording on the metal crown and the entrance gates –based purely on his instinct.

London-born Diarmuid told how he wrote to King Charles before beginning the ambitious project.

“I requested his go-ahead for the lettering to be used,” said the 59-year-old.

“We were putting this up in metal and on a set of gates, so we needed to know.”

But there was no reply from the Palace by the end of April, so Diarmuid took matters into his own hands and changed the sign.

“It was only the following day that a reply came from Balmoral confirming it – luckily for me,” recalled a gardener relieved at not being sent to the Tower.

“We only finished the project at 1.30am the night before the Royal couple arrived…”

The Coronation Garden, County Antrim

The Garden Show Ireland Ambassador created the garden ­– which has a huge ironwork structure topped with a crown and a glitter ball ­– to appeal to the King’s ‘whimsical’ sense of humour.

The beds, packed with bee and butterfly friendly flowers, even containing ‘dancing’ topiaries and spinning conical trees that move every 15 minutes to the tune of either Pure Imagination from the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory film or Morecambe and Wise’s Give Me Sunshine.

It marks the beginning of a new green initiative for the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area, which is bookended by Belfast Lough and Lough Neagh.

Diarmuid’s plan to “build and plant the newest Botanic gardens on the planet” – only mooted in December - began with the delivery of the Coronation Garden at breakneck speed.

“The first sod was cut on March 9,” he said.

“Most of this was built by hand and up in three months. That’s unheard of in this industry.

“This was on a different scale to the Clockwork Garden. It was all about the remarkable people who came together – including the council.”

The royal couple officially opened the new garden during their first post-Coronation visit to Northern Ireland on May 24.

“It might very well have been the reason they came; so that’s mad,” said Diarmuid.


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