Delicious, DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

A Country Christmas at Hunter’s


I’m so excited about next months two Inspiration Masterclasses.  The events are a fine opportunity to get in the mood, with friends, for the festive season while gleaning tips and ideas on how to decorate your own home with an emphasis on using Nature & the Garden as your resource.

The afternoon will be filled with creative ideas for decorative detail around your home from myself and this will be followed by a demonstration of creating your own seasonal harvest and tonic drinks with Glenealy based local Courtney Tyler of Hips & Haws Wildcrafts. Courtney will show us how to create our own healthy wildcrafted tonic drinks using foraged wild berries such as elderberries, blackberries and rose hips. She will concentrate on cordials, shrubs, sodas and fruit wines.

The event which is now an annual tradition for many regular attendees, takes place in the cosy, atmospheric surroundings of Ireland’s oldest coaching inn, Hunter’s Hotel, County Wicklow.

My aim is for everyone to leave with a warm glow and full of inspiration for decorating your own home for the festive season and through the Winter until Spring. Ticket price includes Hunter’s renowned homemade afternoon tea (complete with deelish sambos, scones & cake) and a glass of fizz by the fire.

The events take place on Saturday 3rd October & Saturday 10th October

Places are limited so early booking is advisable. You can book on either of the dates here

Niamh Mac Gowan Interior Stylist

Courtney Tyler

Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

How do you like dem apples?


Last week, the night before Hallowe’en, I took a walk around a friends farm – the Autumn mists were down so I can’t show you the sea views this handsome new herd has but I am sure you can imagine. When leaving, Teresa handed me a bag of apples – there are only so many apple tarts she can make she said.

I fancied making something that will last, something that doesn’t involve pastry (a moment on the lips….. ) and something I can’t get readily in the supermarket.

I decided an apple jelly was just the thing – I had a feeling it might be trickier than jam but worth it I reckoned. I have a couple of scented geraniums in the garden and thought I might involve them before its too late in the year so looked up a recipe with those combined ingredients. Darina Allen of Ballymaloe came to the rescue as I found her recipe here


I gathered all my jam jars, the ingredients from the recipe & some fresh clean muslin. (which incidently, you can sterilise by ironing on the hottest setting – who knew)

Right, apples into the water – I used lemon scented geranium leaves here instead of lemon zest. All good so far…..


A comedy of errors ensued. I tried to create a contraption to house my muslin filter for the scalding hot pulp using an up-turned stool and many many pegs – I needed this to be left overnight in order to get every last drop of sticky juice from the cooked apples. Soon realising that the ginormous bowl I had wedged into the legs to receive this mixture was going to fill up well before the pulp had emptied. I tried to tilt it in to another sterilised bowl, it got jammed, slipped and poured all over my right thigh and kitchen floor. I scream, Dinny decides to come in and check out what the hell is going on, I run upstairs whipping off clothes to get cold water on my leg and then spend the next hour mopping up the sticky mess.

I attempt to try again – there is still plenty of pulp that hasn’t drained, this then spills and another hour is spent mopping the floor over and over again. I then leave the rest of the pulp to drain overnight. I sit down to watch a scary movie – it is Hallowe’en weekend afterall. One of the light bulbs in the kitchen decides to pop. Movie is indeed scary. Everytime I jump, Dinny awakes and starts barking, the light in the stairwell flickers every time I go upstairs, film get scarier, pulp keeps dripping. I am stuck on the couch afraid to put my feet on the floor .

Next morning I manage to make my apple jelly with rose scented geranium leaf – far less than there would have been had most of it not ended up on the floor. It is a little more runny as well as I think the majority of all that pectin didn’t make it to the pot either….

BUT the good news is, it tastes deeeelish. *wipes brow*



Ham House from The East Garden

‘Ham House from The East Garden’
Etching & Aquatint
printed on Rosapina Avorio Bianco
plate size: H18.5cm x W17.5cm
paper size: H35.5cm x W33.5cm
It is the same size as ‘The View with Cow Parsley’
Available to pre-order directly from me now and will be in stock in my English gallery outlets from the beginning of May.

Art, Floral & Gardens

Ham House from The East Garden

Art, Floral & Gardens, Nature & the Coast

The View from Richmond Hill

I am in the middle of working on a series of new etchings based on both here and my second home of Richmond.

Here is the first one

from the sketchbook ……



to the plate…



‘The View with Cow Parsley’



It is everyone’s favourite view from Richmond Hill looking down on the Thames where I love to row.

This view is famous as it is the only view in England that is protected by an Act of Parliament which was passed in 1902  “to protect the land on and below Richmond Hill and thus preserve the fine foreground views to the west and south”

it is available to pre-order directly from me now:

and will be in stock in my English gallery outlets from the beginning of May. Its quite big for me!

It is an etching & aquatint

Plate size: H18.5cm x W17.5cm

Paper size: H35.5cm x W33.5cm

printed on Rosapina Avorio bianco

DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Styling your home for the Festive Season – part 2

Continuing my notes on styling your home using nature as your resource……

Simply place an evergreen branch in a bucket  this is great for those short on funds for a costly Christmas tree or if like me you are short on space. It looks great on a hall table so Christmas greets your guests on entering.


Another great alternative to a tree – or something to have in another room – on the kitchen dresser perhaps –

Tie together a bunch of deciduous branches. Hold in place in a garden urn or flower pot with some large stones – cover these with moss and decorate with your favourite baubles as these are going to be seen more so than if they were on the tree.


Handy tip – always change the cheapy string on baubles to ribbon – it looks so much more expensive! Ribbon – when ever I buy a new dress the first thing I do is cut off those annoying ribbon loops that are waiting to flop out at an inopportune moment.


and as a person who can’t throw anything away for fear of it being useful, I have a box full of them!


Hang baubles from shelves or anywhere you see a hook!


 I made some bunting made from pages of an old book


 – love this especially if you have a darker colour on your walls – it really stands out but in a very simple way


This year I will be mostly wrapping my presents in brown paper tied up with string

with an added embellishment of decorative detail from nature.

2013-12-14 15.11.30

Wishing you a very happy & stylish Christmas!


Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Styling your home for the Festive Season – part 1

Styling your home for Christmas using nature as your resource.


Instead of just automatically getting out the same box of decorations every year and putting everything in the same place, mix it up!

Start by going outside

Take a look in your garden: gather greenery – lleylandii, ivy, hydrangeas, anything with berries on it, eucalyptus, bay, – any herbs


Go for a wintery walk in the woods: gather moss, pine cones, deciduous branches, evergreen branches – there are lots on ground now following recent storms.

Perhaps followed by a hot whiskey by the fire in your local pub!


Create an atmosphere in your home….

Cosiness: Warmth from an open turf fire and from candles about the place.

Twinkly lights: tealights & fairy lights  everywhere and anywhere

Aromas: Christmas oil – dropped on to pine cones & herbs used as greenery. Mulled wine or cider simmering on the hob. Stick cloves in oranges wrapped in velvet ribbons.

and then a feast for the eyes with these decorative details…..

I found this copper bowl in a charity shop in Brighton for £4, I have filled it with pine cones dabbed with aromatic oil – a kind of modern day pot pourri!


Choose your colours, this year I am focusing on greens, greys and copper, keeping it wonderfully simple

Wreaths are not just for the hall door

they can be hung in front of a mirror

at end of a hallway

or in a window


Play with scale

You can make tiny wreaths – with rosemary or buxus or any other greenery with small leaves – for backs of chairs or again hung around the house – see here how to make this one above.

I also made this HUGE Lleylandii Wreath – using just greenery – simple simple.


I used a hula hoop bought from my local toyshop for a couple of euro and wrapped it in masking tape and added branches of lleylandii – which is great as it floppy! I love the simplicity of this – but sadly it is too big for my house!!

(all branches were scavenged from recently felled trees that greatly improved the views from upstairs)

Choose your colours, this year I am focusing on greens, greys and copper again keeping it wonderfully simple


 Bring in your lanterns from the garden – line with moss – mini cones – grey candles


I gathered some branches with tiny cones  and dabbed some gold paint on them


Another idea is to get an antique plate or a tray and line with moss, place one or ideally a number of candles within this and dot a few small baubles and pine cones nestling on the moss. This would make an impressive centrepiece as it will sit low on the table.


I dyed an old cream linen tablecloth to black – the perfect backdrop for all the coppers and moss greens and twinkly lights


tea towels and linens for napkins – folded with string and decorated with a nature detail

all images by Niamh Mac Gowan  except the photograph of the marvellous Jerusalem Tavern

DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Nature & the Coast

A ‘mini’ wreath

As many of you know I love playing with scale and as well as making the biggest wreath EVER from lleylandii, I also made this particular little wreath with rosemary but you can also use buxus or anything else from the garden with small leaves.

These are ideal for backs of chairs, in front of mirrors or hung anywhere around the house.

I started with the wooden rings that are used for embroidery – I bought these in my local haberdashery

I made small bunches using about 3 sprigs and tightly wrapped them with a little elastic band


I attached the bunches gradually, using green garden wire


continue this right around eventually filling the gaps with smaller sprigs

add any colour ribbon to hang it

et voila!



The hedgerows keep giving

Ivy is in flower and I love the shapes!! and the simplicity of colour.

Floral & Gardens, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The hedgerows keep giving


a little Autumnal posy

I was out foraging in the hedgerows by the beach today. I picked some ivy and rose hips (just a few – left the rest for the birds!). I popped them in one of my trusty Rosemarie Durr vases with one of my dahlias et voila! Here they are on a shelf in my dark and moody bedroom.

Floral & Gardens, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast, Uncategorized

a little Autumnal posy

Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration

Rose Geranium Syrup

My latest recipe making use of the garden….

A delicious syrup made from the aromatic leaves of rose geraniums. I love my rose geranium and can’t resist giving it a rub whenever I sit near it – I have located it by the garden table so it is always to hand. It smells of turkish delight – and actually the essential oil drawn from it is used to give a rose flavour. This recipe is more simple and quite immediate.



This syrup is very sweet and therefore works well with fruit that has a bit of tartness to it like raspberries for example. My Autumn raspberries have just started producing so I married it with them and some meringue.


I got this recipe from Gillon Meller from River Cottage

Simply dissolve 200g of caster sugar in 200ml of water in a heavy based saucepan and simmer for a few minutes. Pour this into a kilner jar, add 8 rose geranium leaves and leave to cool & infuse.


These leaves will go brown so replace them with fresh ones when it has cooled down. If stored in the fridge, this syrup will last well. 

I drizzled it over raspberries and left them for an hour. and mixed a little more with some creme fraiche and served it with crushed meringue….delicious yet not too naughty.

My small but fruitful garden keeps giving.