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

 Protect brassicas against the cabbage white butterfly, whose caterpillar is pictured. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala’s tips for this week’s tasks

Keep weeds in check with an oscillating hoe, favourite of many professional gardeners. Photograph: Richard Johnston

With some weeds producing thousands of seeds per plant, it’s hard work to get rid of them. Try managing them instead

Photograph: Getty images

Ireland is home to 19 species of ladybirds

Facing South: The Talbot Collection at Malahide, by Paul Foley. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Small, mysterious pools, rusted metal sculptures and colourful, peppery-scented lupins are the stars of this weekend’s Bloom event(...)

Sow seeds of Florence fennel into modular trays. Photographs: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala’s tips for this week’s tasks

Connie Danaher, Killimer, Co Clare and Mary Lumbroso, Nenagh, Co.Tipperary at the opening day of Bloom Graden Festival, in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Up to 115,000 people are expected to visit exhibition

 Emma Laura Skelton enjoying the “You’ll Talk - I’ll Listen” show garden at the Bloom show. The garden is sponsored by the  Samaritans. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

This year’s five-day festival features 30 show gardens and 50 nurseries

Mud Island Community Garden members taking part in the Bloom Fringe Festival, front (l. to r.): Eileen McDonald, Maeve Foreman and Cody Redmond. Back (l. to r.): Sarah Hannigan, Fionnuala Halpin, Dermot Byrne, John Hannigan, Paul Redmond and Bernie Furlong. Photographs: Aidan Crawley

The annual gardening festival returns to the Phoenix Park next week, and this year the younger, edgier Bloom Fringe will take the (...)

 Spray roses to protect them from blackspot, mildew and aphids. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon’s tips for this week’s tasks

 Luciano Giubbilei’s Best in Show at the  RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show once again brought inspiration among its medal-winners but also pastiche disappointments

Visitors admire the the plants on display in The Great Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Hugo Bugg (27) becomes youngest ever to take gold for contemporary raingarden

A stall holder attaches an eye to a figure on his display of edible leaves such as cabbages and lettuce at the Chelsea Flower Show in London today. Photograph: Reuters

Bórd na Mona sponsoring a show garden designed to raise awareness of light pollution

Champion sweet pea grower and allotment expert John Warren. Photograph: Richard Johnston

How is the gardener to get everything sown, planted and trained in the busy month of May?

Move young tomato plants out into the glasshouse. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon’s tips for this week’s tasks

Salad days

One of the many lovely specimens on the Russborough estate. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The long forgotten rhododendron corner on the 200-acre estate in Wicklow is being restored to its former glory

 Sow seeds of colourful, unusual cut-and-come-again salad leaves this week

Fionnuala Fallon’s tips for this week’s tasks

Anthea Howbert of Howbert & Mays garden centre in Monkstown, Co Dublin. Photograph: Richard Johnson

A pint-sized garden centre sells the things gardeners really want

’Growing your own’ & 'fabulous colour and scent'

Tulips growing in dustbins

Learn how to best grow and cultivate these exquisite spring flowers

  A Cabbage White butterfly feeding from oregano flowers. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Flying visitors

We can all help reverse the sad decline of butterflies by turning our gardens into havens for these beautiful insects


Tulip themed events around Ireland

Lines of chives growing in the walled Victorian kitchen garden at Ashtown in the Phoenix Park. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Herbs are easy to grow, smell glorious and are endlessly useful in the kitchen

 The new gardens at Airfield estate in Dublin. Photograph: Seanandyvette

After a three-year revamp, the gardens at Airfield in Dundrum are ready to open

Ballymaloe Cookery School potager, with marigolds, lavender and artichokes.

Flowers can be grown for their edible qualities as well as their aesthetic strengths

Creative pruning by Jake Hobson. Photograph: Jake Hobson

Root out your best tools and tackle the evergreens that will benefit from a spot of creative pruning, trimming, thinning or sheari(...)

We are familiar with the many varieties of potato but try asking your older relatives about those they remember from childhood

Don’t forget the garden when it comes to doing a refurb. You don’t need green fingers to create something special

Whether you’re a messy or a tidy-minded gardener, it’s time for a clean up and perhaps a complete rethink of your flower border

Cedar tree at Adare Manor, Adare, Co Limerick, from Carsten Krieger and Aubrey Fennell’s Heritage Trees of Ireland, published by Collins Press. Photograph: Carsten Krieger/Tree Council of Ireland

High winds in early 2014, coupled with root structures weakened by heavy rain, brought down some of our oldest trees

An assortment of tomatoes including ‘Polen’ and ‘Dr Carolyn Pink’. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Top 10 tomatoes

Eaten raw or roasted: find the perfect tomato for each use

Cut flowers growing in Fionnuala’s garden last summer. Photograph: Richard Johnson
A cut above

For the price of seeds, compost and a bit of graft you will have armfuls of sweetly scented, bright cut-flowers in the months to c(...)

Weather for ducks, not gardeners. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
After the deluge

The recent storms and torrential rain have left gardens in a sodden mess. Here are some practical ways to repair the damage

You know the drill

Where to buy vegetable seeds

Viburnum tinus ‘Lisa Rose’.  Photograph: Richard Johnston
Late winter sparkle

Add a little extra cheer as the evenings take a stretch with our top 10 hardy late bloomers

 Galanthus ‘Castlegar’ at Altamont Gardens in Co Carlow. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The appearance of snowdrops give us a foretaste of warmer days to come, but that’s not the only reason this dainty flower lifts th(...)

You can eat them, make wine with them, or rely on their medieval medicinal properties

Some chemicals harm insects. Photograph: Richard Johnson
Killer chemicals

Rummages in garden sheds can yield all sorts of broken promises not least habitat-harming sprays now withdrawn from use

A glorious year

After this year’s frozen spring, nature corrected itself and for months on end there were flowers, berries and picnics galore

Dig in for winter

Long, dark evenings are the perfect time to get inspiration from new and classic gardening books. Here are some of the best

 Seasonal arrangement by garden designer and florist Mark Grehan

Award-winning garden designer Mark Grehan offers a few tips on making arrangements that will last the festive season

 Gifts for the gardener

Stuck for inspiration regarding a Christmas gift for the green-fingered person(s) in your life? Read on, read on . . .

 Left to right: Glasses of homemade rhubarb and hawthorn wine,haw wine, sloe gin, strawberry liqueur, dandelion wine, blackberry wine. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Cheery concoctions

Wine can be made from fruit, herbs, flowers and pretty much anything edible that grows in gardens and hedgerows

  Acer palmatum ‘Corallinum’ and Betula ‘Grayswood Hill’ in the gardens of Coolcarrigan last week. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Take a moment to indulge in some tree-gazing and marvel at their majesty

The Olympic Park 'Gold Meadows' 2012. By Nigel Dunnett.

Nigel Dunnett specialises in aesthetically satisfying and ecologically sustainable creations

Think about the kind of hedge that is best for your garden before you plant, allowing for conditions and environment

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