Diarmuid Gavin’s silver-gilt winning garden.

Garden designers Paul Martin and Diarmuid Gavin made sure the Irish were again among the medals at Britain’s leading flower show, (...)

Paul Martin’s garden for which he won a gold medal. Photograph:  PA

Paul Martin and Diarmuid Gavin named among winners

Wicklow gardener and nursery owner June Blake planting up a vintage cast-iron pot with a selection of choice summer-flowering perennials

A dreamy mix of flowers and foliage is guaranteed to fill your heart with joy

Well-known gardener Helen Dillon with the late Ruby, one of her much-loved dachshunds

Dig in column: Think about the effect on your garden before you choose a pooch

Kilkenny Castle and John’s Bridge when  the  city was announced as  the Irish Tidy Town winner in 2014. Photograph: Pat Moore.

No place for weedkillers and mowing of wildflowers in environmentally-friendly award

Gorgeous, magical stories that can nourish a child’s instinctive love of the natural world

View across the pool in the Italian garden of Garinish Island in Co Cork. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The OPW has just finished an utterly brilliant restoration of Bryce House on the island

Detail of tulip ‘Julia Farnese’ rose feather (1976) by Rory McEwen. Watercolour on vellum, 53 x 51 cm. Reproduced by kind permission of the estate of Rory McEwen

Some varieties are extinct because their bulbs were infected by ‘tulip-breaking’ viruses passed on by aphids

Frances McDonald in the Bay Garden, surrounded by Tulip ‘Golden Apeldoorn’ and T. ‘Apeldoorn Elite’. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Some 5,000 are in bloom in the Bay Garden in Camolin, Co Wexford

A section of Dan Pearson’s winning garden at Chelsea Flower Show in 2015. Photograph: Allan Pollok-Morris

The Best in Show winner at the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show is giving a talk at Lismore Castle

The Lowline Lab in New York’s Lower East Side, which is already yielding strawberries and miniature pineapples.  Photograph: John Taggart/Bloomberg

The inventive use of solar technology in an underground park is lighting the way for an ambitious fibre-optic scheme

Lantern shapes, slender stems: Fritillaria meleagris in flower in Fionnuala Fallon’s garden this week. Photograph: Richard Johnston

This almost-wild plant self-seeds around gardens, yielding generous clusters of pretty spring flowers that look as good in a vase(...)

An adult puffin on the cliff tops on Skomer Island  in Pembrokeshire, Wales. In Victorian times,    Peruvian guano was much sought after. Photograph:  Matt Cardy/Getty

We dress it up with terms like ‘livestock manure’, but human and animal excrement is part of gardening folklore

Paul Martin: ‘It’s a little bit like showing a pedigree dog at Crufts; you have to understand the rules if you want to win a medal at Chelsea.’ Photograph: Richard Johnston

Paul Martin is using many Irish suppliers and contractors in his show garden this year

‘Mr October’ with a floral crown by Fiona Haser Bizony of Electric Daisy Flower Farm. Image reproduced courtesy of Alma Haser

Growers of seasonal ‘eco blooms’ can find a wealth of information and practical advice online

It’s a good time to prepare vegetable beds in kitchen gardens and allotments.  Photograph: Richard Johnston

Growing in modules offers protection from weeds, slugs and cold winds

‘Assumpta’s Treasure’ by Holly Somerville, reproduced by permission of the artist. See hollysomerville.com

Digging reveals tiny pieces of history in broken personal and household objects

Drawings on show at ‘A Weed is a Plant out of Place’ at Lismore Castle, from left: Elizabeth Blackwell, ‘A Curious Herbal, Vol 1, Poppy’; Maria Sibylla Merian, from ‘Metamorphosin Insectarium Surinamensum’; HC Hulme, from ‘Familiar Wild Flowers’. All copyright of the Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth and reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

Two exhibitions explore the very different lights in which these nomads of the plant world can be viewed

Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’. Photograph: Richard Johnston

There is a growing appreciation among gardeners for this rich horticultural legacy

Rare yellow snowdrops like this one are much coveted by galanthophiles. Photograph: Richard Johnston

People who work in public gardens and parks need to keep their eyes peeled for plant pilferers

The only way to restore your lollipop tree to its leafy best is to re-pot it, a job best carried out at this time of year as the plant starts back into growth. Photograph: Thinkstock

Giving your lollipop tree some good nourishment is key to keeping it in top condition

Anne Moloney, an allotment holder at Pearse College, with some of her freshly harvested Record potatoes. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Few things taste as good as a handful of freshly dug potatoes, lightly steamed and tossed in butter and a dusting of sea salt. But(...)

‘True Irish shamrock’  is actually clover. Above, the illustration on the cover of ‘Shamrock’, a new booklet by artist  Sonia Caldwell

The national symbol we wear proudly on St Patrick’s Day can be one of a number of plants

The reliably perennial, late-summer flowering Gladiolus ‘Ruby’ growing with eryngiums and diascias in Helen Dillon’s Dublin garden. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Gladioli are highly decorative, easy to grow and available in a range of gorgeous colours

A pleached lime hedge in the private gardens of Oakfield Park, Co Donegal. Photograph: Richard Johnston

There are lots of ways to plant for privacy without choosing something that will become invasive, shady or high-maintenance

An arrangement of David Austin roses, sweet pea and alchemilla from Fionnuala’s garden last summer. Photograph: Richard Johnston

They’re difficult to grow, but breeders are coming up with new garden-friendly species

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

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