My latest fascination has been Camellia sasanqua cultivars. The flowers appear in autumn, the plants are much more elegant in habit than their spring-flowering counterparts, Camellia japonica, and have sweet scented flowers.

What turns a gardener into a plant collector? Single mindedness and an obsessive streak help

While the internet offers an endless supply of seed catalogues, it is still a case of buyer beware

This useful plant is used to reduce pain, to moisturise and to aid healing, among other properties

Preliminary watercolour study  of Iris ‘Killiney’ by botanical artist Jane Stark. (Drawing courtesy of ISBA)

An illustrated book and an exhibition recognising some of Ireland’s new garden plants will be launched this year

The mild winter is bad for gardens – many plants need a sufficient period of chilly weather in order to thrive

Next year’s catalogues are out, and there are lots of interesting new plants to consider growing

There’s a host of handsome evergreen shrubs whose foliage will give your Christmas decorations an air of distinction

Get the gardener in your life a book they will ahve forever

There is a wonderful variety of gardening books for the plantsperson in your life

There are gifts across the price range for your favourite horticulturalists

Compost bins and beehive nestle in the floating orchard barge in London created by kitchen gardener Nick Lacey – one of the innovative kitchen gardens that features in Lia Leendertz’s book, My Tiny Veg Plot

Nowhere is too small or too unlikely – from an unused swimming pool to the back of a pick-up truck – to grow your own food

Tuber treasure: dahlia tubers can be used to make ice cream, crisps, chips, soup, rostis or latkes. Photograph: Richard Johnston

With hints of celery, beetroot and carrot, darling, eat up your dahlias

Gardening this weekend? Fionnuala Fallon has some tips on what you should be concentrating on and some dates for your gardening di(...)

A productive and easy-to-cultivate plant – some would say too easy – the Jerusalem artichoke will happily grow in sun or light shade and in most soils

The Jerusalem artichoke may be a misnomer but this easy-to-cultivate tuber is highly nutritious and tasty

Depending on the particular species or variety, geraniums intensely perfumed foliage can conjure up memories of fistfuls of rose-flavoured Turkish delight, mint humbugs and zingy cola bottles

Lemons, rose, cola bottle, strawberry - just some of the scents that will come from a crushed geranium leaf that can be used to (...)

The decorative flowers of the late- summer flowering, highly poisonous perennial Aconitum. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Even the most innocent seeming plants and flowers can be deadly at heart, but that shouldn’t stop us growing them

An arrangement of decorative autumn seedheads from the garden, including those of the opium poppy, honesty, Thalictrum, Molinia. Photograph: Richard Johnston

There’s a wealth of plants worth growing for their sculptural autumn seedheads alone

Growing new plants from cuttings is a canny way of building up your stock of tender annuals

Peonies, favoured for their blooms, are long lasting plants that can survive for decades

Don’t take for granted the many vivid autumnal trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses that can gild a late season garden

Expect 10 year wait for fully productive plants, but patience is amply rewarded

Now is the time to plant bulbs that will give you armfuls of spring and summer flowers

Not only are they painterly, vivid and gorgeous, ‘pictorial’ meadows are extremely supportive of pollinators

Honeybees will happily forage for pollen and nectar wherever they can find it. but the flowers of some plants are more valuable to(...)

The new dahlia garden in Aras an Uachtarain, which contains several Irish-bed cultivars include Dahlia ‘John Markham’. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Judging these colourful flowers is an exacting process; you can see it in action today in Greystones

Nocino is an Italian liqueur made from green, unripe walnuts steeped in spirit for several months. Photograph: Richard Johnston

It’s been a wet summer but there’s plenty of produce to infuse spirits with and capture sun for the dark days

Edible rose petals and lemon verbena leaves crystallised by Ballymaloe House’s head pastry chef JR Ryall. PHotograph: Richard Johnston

Roses, violets and dahlias all have a place at the tables, whether in salads or atop cakes

 Close-up of the flower and buds of Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape’ flowering in Fionnuala’s garden last week. Photograph: Richard Johnson

Difficult to grow and short to flower, the poppy is worth the effort

Bumble bee feeding from a cosmos flower. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The ‘natural capital’ movement aims to increase awareness of nature’s value

‘The tulip lady’: Welsh-born writer and author Anna Pavord

Gardening and writing are Anna Pavord’s two favourite disciplines and she combines them beautifully

Mick Harford, district parks officer with Dublin City Council in St Anne’s Rose Gardens in Raheny. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Head to St Anne’s Rose Gardens for a treat for the senses

If your heart is set on keeping free-range birds, consider allowing them to roam freely in certain areas of the garden for part of the day while fencing/ netting/ caging off more vulnerable areas such as flower beds

Hens are great cleaner-uppers of garden pests but you will need to keep them away from your favourite plants

These gardens bring nothing but good to a community, enriching many lives in many different ways.

Growth spurt in local gardens is enriching many lives in many different ways

Self-seeding plants Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ and the Welsh poppy, Meconsopsis cambrica, putting on a colourful display in Fionnuala’s garden earlier this month.  Photograph: Richard Johnson

There is a lot to be said for encouraging plants and flowers to self-seed through the garden

The purple flower spires of the native foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, lighting up the edges of a Wicklow woodland.

Digitalis purpurea regally colours our countryside but many digitalis varieties can heighten a garden’s borders

The edible flowers of pot marigolds. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Forget the onions and carrots; instead grow plants with the power to radically transform a home-cooked meal

‘Salvia Amistad’ and ‘Cerro Potosi’; growing together in an Irish garden. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Vast, versatile plants are extraordinarily colourful, aromatic, long flowering and easy to cultivate

 “Darkness into Light – The Pieta House Garden”, a medium-sized show garden which was designed by Niall Maxwell and which features a mural by Joe Caslin. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallons picks some highlights from Ireland’s biggest garden festival

Dan Pearson, whose Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden won the title of Best in Show Garden

Decking is back, try a trowel with a twist or a touch of topiary: 14 ideas from the Chelsea Flower Show 2015

Herbalist Vivienne Campbell will walk your land and show you what’s good to eat and what cures are growing right under your nose(...)

Sligo-based gardener, writer and designer Lorely Forrester, who will be building her first Bloom show garden later this month. Photograph: Fionn Rogers

A show garden for the upcoming Bloom festival is a tribute to WB Yeats

 Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co Wicklow, from The Irish Garden by Jane Powers. Photograph: Jonathan Hession

This remarkable volume, full of stories and atmospheric photographs, shows that Ireland has hidden its horticultural light under a(...)

A Victorian iron ‘Famine Pot’ used as as planter, with orange T. vvedenskyi ‘Henry Hudson’ in Angela Jupe’s Offaly garden. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Architectural salvage yards are good hunting grounds for vintage garden pieces or ‘gardenalia’

If you want your garden to be brimming with tasty produce this summer, then it’s time to get sowing

The ‘smarties bed’ in June Blake’s Co Wicklow garden last year, filled with ‘Burgundy’, ‘Ballerina’, ‘Negrita’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Bastagne Parrot’ tulips. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Visit June Blake’s Wicklow garden to see a sea of tulips and other blooms

Fitzgerald Nursery staff harvesting a crop of sweet potatoes grown under cover in Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Pat Fitzgerald/Fitzgerald Nurseries

Irish gardeners are reviving ancient crops such as amaranth, kaniwa and quinoa because they are easy to grow and nutritious

The nonagenarian head of a family of champion growers shares his secrets

Sculptural foliage of silver leafed Astelia, Schefflera hoi and tree ferns growing in the city garden of designer Bernard Hickie. Photograph: Richard Johnston

There’s a plant for almost every type of shady spot, but it pays to give the soil a helping hand

Fionnuala’s garden last summer, filled with plants grown from seed under cover earlier that year. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Spring is in the air. It is time to put in some planting work that will pay dividends later in food and flowers

Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’. Photograph: Paddy Tobin

Gardening experts name their favourite Irish flower or plant

Many of the plants in your garden will benefit from a haircut to encourage strong new growth. Don’t spare the secateurs

Willow weaver Beth Murphy at work in her country garden on County Kildare. Photographs: Richard Johnston

These eco-friendly structures and sculptures can transform a garden

Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’

Transform a simple border or container into something exceptional

One of the Brown Envelope Seeds polytunnels filled with the ripening seedheads of salad and vegetable crops. Photograph: Richard Johnston

For gardeners interested in growing heritage Irish vegetables that will withstand the weather, Brown Envelope Seeds is a good plac(...)

It may be cold outside, but this is the best time to start growing chilli plants from seed

Sam Smyth of Urban Plant Life surrounded by the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), one of his favourite indoor plants. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Pot plants also add humidity and filter pollutants from our homes and offices

A liquid mix of different beneficial bacteria, yeast and fungi restores life to the soil with wonderful results. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Feeding soil with helpful bacteria will make a difference to your lawns and borders

June Blake’s exciting, contemporary garden in County Wicklow. Photographs: Richard  Johnston

Forget turning over a new leaf, be brave and turn over a completely new garden

It may not be gardening weather, but there’s much to learn and enjoy from your armchair

Claire Ryan (right) and Patsy Wrafter of the Informal Florist. Photographs:  Richard Johnston

The Informal Florist puts emphasis on unconventional, pared-back beauty

Clarke’s Soaps, handmade in Dublin

What garden lovers will be happy to find under the tree this year

Flanagan’s Fields in Rialto, a community garden using 21st century methods to grow food. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Rialto community group uses 21st-century growing methods and cutting-edge technology to grow delicious and nutritious food in (...)

These baby plants may be of Lilliputian proportions, but they are wonderfully decorative and intensely flavoursome. Photograph: Richard Johnston

They’re expensive to buy, but micro greens are easy to grow

Continue to enjoy an impressive variety of freshly harvested homegrown food throughout the year. Photograph: Richard Johnston

From golden Cape gooseberries to sooty skinned figs, the garden keeps on giving during autumn and winter

The strangely medieval-looking medlar, which can be used to make fragrant medlar jelly to serve as an accompaniment to game, pork or lamb

Plant a medlar tree between now and March and in time you could be harvesting fragrant fruits to make jellies and liqueurs

Tasty bounty: an array of homegrown fruit,vegetables and edible flowers grown in an Irish kitchen garden. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Lazy gardening is a great way to clear that weed patch and get it ready for spring growth

Lichens growing on a stone statue in the historic gardens of Mount Stewart, Co Down. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Loving lichen

An appreciation of the silver, moss-like growth that adorns our garden walls, pots, ornaments and plants

Zwena McCullough (on left), the award-winning allotment provider and the owner of the Hydro Farm Allotment site in Blarney, Co Cork, with plot holder Peggy Murray. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The new water charges threaten community and school gardens

 Landscape architect Eoghan Riordan Fernandez greens up Crampton Court. Photograph: Richard Johnston

A ‘living wall’ in Temple Bar has plants growing out of tiny pockets

Rider Jamie O’Brien with therapeutic riding coaches Arina Jozwik and Rachel Ardagh as they follow Festina Lente’s new therapy trail past a border designed by Oliver Schurmann. Photograph: Richard Johnston

At Bray’s Festina Lente, the fun of horseback riding is enhanced by the sheer joy of flowers

 The colourful winter stems of Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, C. sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ and C. alba ‘Sibirica’ surrounding the silver-white trunks of Himalayan birches together make a spectacular display. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Shrub it and see

Shrubs might not be the glamour-pusses of the garden but they’re stout undergarments

Peerless Pears

Grow pears for your heirs, the saying goes. Fionnula Fallon heeds some advice on speeding up the process

Summer-flowering annuals picked from Fionnuala Fallon’s garden last week, Calendula ‘Neon’, Ammi visnaga, Briza maxima, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy, Lathyrus ‘Gwendoline’. Larkspur, pennisetum, and Nigella damascena ‘Deep Blue’ Photograph: Richard Johnson

Autumn-sown plants have a significant headstart on spring-sown, producing larger, more vigorous and much earlier-flowering plants (...)

Fionnuala Fallon’s tasks for the next seven days

Dillisk, dulse, kelp and sea lettuce are just some of the ingredients you can harvest from the shore

Freshly harvested kale. Photograph: Getty Images
Forever greens

Oh so fashionable, kale is popping up on menus everywhere

Tunnel vision

Did your polytunnel get the better of you this summer? Never fear – there’s plenty of time to get it ship-shape and primed for y(...)

 The restored Irish National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Dublin. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Though neglected for many years, the restored Irish National War Memorial Gardens form a poignant tribute to those whose lives it (...)

Verney Naylor-designed garden and boathouse at the West Cork home of Lord and Lady Puttnam

Wind-blown and salty – coastal gardens are challenging, so take advice from two experts

Freeze peas, deal with slugs, pick sweet pea and order seeds

Dahlia ‘Twyning’s Revel’. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Dazzling dahlias

Making their presence felt in hot pinks, red and oranges, these flowers are a brilliant addition to a summer garden

Cut back chives to encourage new growth. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Sowing, cutting back, planting and pinching out

 Blackcurrants waiting to be made into jams, ice cream, cassis and cordial. Photograph: Richard Johnston

From jam to ice-lollies and cassis, the tasty blackcurrant is truly versatile . . . and has the added benefit of health-enhancing(...)

 Robin Lane Fox, Master of Gardens at New College, Oxford. Photograph: J L Lightfoot

Part of the great appeal of Robin Lane Fox’s garden writing is the fact that he doesn’t give a fig for fashionable opinion

 A vase of lightly scented sweet pea flowers. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Each of the chemically unique fragrances in the garden can spark a host of emotions and memories

Now is an excellent time to take semi-ripe cuttings of many different plants. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon’s guide to this week’s garden tasks

 Come into my oasis: Bernard Hickie in his bijou but perfectly formed city garden in Dublin. Photographs: Richard Johnston

The size of this city garden proved to be no impediment to the ambition of its owner, who designed it himself

Leaves and edible flowers for the salad bowl. Photograph: Richard Johnston

July is an excellent month in which to start sowing seed of many different salad leaves . . . and not just for the summer salad (...)

Photograph: Getty Images

Féile an Phráta

Keep picking sweet pea to encourage further flowering

Fionnuala Fallon’s tips for this week’s tasks

Jimi Blake in his 20-acre Hunting Brook garden (also pictured right), with his dog Doris. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Jimi Blake’s 20-acre Hunting Brook garden is known for its prolific planting and constantly changing landscape

Helen Battigan with one of her displays made from flowers in her Bunclody garden. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Five years in the planning, the exhibit has an impressive list of 668 competitors and will feature many rare, beautiful and exoti(...)

Now’s the time to plant out young sweet corn plants before they start to get pot-bound. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon’s tips for this week’s tasks

Bring the garden into the kitchen by making an ice-bowl in which to serve chilled food. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Gardens are abundant and full of promise of long, hot days to come

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