Argos goes green . . . but for a house in the garden, try a big red affair

Home Front: short of space at home but don’t want to move? A garden house is an increasingly popular option

Argos goes green

What with Chelsea just finished and Bloom just beginning and the arrival, finally, of some decent weather we've all gone garden mad. The folks at Argos have done some research on what's trending in the garden department and if you want to get ahead of the pack, here's what they recommend.

First, grow up: with outside space at a premium, many gardeners are going up up walls, maximising growing space on patios and balconies.

Second, get potting: pots, planters, lighting and ornaments can be used in all sorts of creative ways.

Third, let the right one in: there's a huge movement towards gardens which benefit wildlife, whether it's installing a pond, creating hedgehog highways or planting flowers and shrubs which encourage pollinating insects. And with ultra-violet being the pantone colour of the year, add a dash of purple to your palette – try lavender, salvia or the gorgeously scented sweet rocket – and you're good to go into the gardening future.


A house in the garden

If you're running out of space in your home but don't want to move, then a house in the garden is an increasingly popular option. Big Red Barn, a company that made its name with pop up event spaces at Electric Picnic, Marlay Park and other festivals, has a new base in Swinford, Co Mayo, where it produces garden houses that wouldn't look out of place on the prairie, or in some colonial outpost where tea is served every afternoon on the verandah.

The houses, which can be one-, two-, or three-bedroom models, can be used as home offices, gym or studio space or simply as overflow accommdation from the main house. They're built with a steel structure and Kingspan insulation throughout and come with double glazed windows, kiln-dried Scandinanvian pine line walls and custom built kitchen and bathrooms. They're pre plumbed, and heating options include electric heaters or a wood pellet burning stove. Standard one-bedroom houses cost €32,000 plus VAT, while a two-bedroom house is €39,000 plus VAT. A three-bedroom will set you back €47,000 plus VAT.

Room to Improve at the Dalkey Book Festival

Dermot Bannon the nation's best loved architect and proud northsider will head south and make his debut appearance at the Dalkey Book Festival on Friday June 15th at 8:30pm.

Now working on the 12th series of Room To Improve, he's become a national treasure, never failing to send twitter into meltdown via his encounters with demanding – even deluded – clients. The show combines Ireland's most conspicuous characteristics, an obsession with property and an outrageous nosiness. Bannon joins our own Orna Mulcahy of this parish to share his expertise and advice on designing homes to make them better places to live.

Meanwhile, writer Polly Devlin, who divides her time between London and New York, with dashes to Dublin in between, will be talking to Jane McDonnell , publisher of the Gloss, about homes featured in her latest book, New York Behind Closed Doors. It offers a glimpse into the lives of New York characters and their homes, from swanky uptown apartments to art-filled dwellings in the village. That's on June 16th at 11am. for information and tickets.

Home: where to we belong?

What links beehive huts, the housing crisis and algorithms and mother and baby homes? The theme of home is an evocative one in Ireland, encompassing our connection with the land and the loss of it, the light or shadow our homes cast over our lives, traditions of homeownership, and particularly today, the seeming impossibility of many people to find or afford the most basic right of shelter. Home has a particular significance for an emigrant nation, and even attracts temporary attention for concepts such as the hometovote campaigns.

So it's a timely hook for a series of discussions in the First Thought Talks strand of chat events at this year's Galway International Arts Festival. Historian and archivist Catriona Crowe has curated a series of interviews, conversations and debate on the theme of home, which she comes at from many angles, gathering a cast of academics, activists, architects, artists and authors to shine a light in the living room.

Crowe's concept bursts out of its walls to encompass events from Roy Foster talking about his favourite dwelling Thoor Ballylee, where WB Yeats and his wife George Hyde-Lees lived, to a panel discussion about the housing crisis, with Diarmaid Ferriter, Niamh Hourican, Frank McDonald and Niamh Randall, chaired by David McCullough. OPW archaeologist Edward Bourke looks at life in the beehive huts in the Skelligs, and psychiatrist Brendan Kelly talks about mental health, and its legacy of highly populated "lunatic asylums" of the past.

Island life exerts a strong influence on us, which Ferriter delves into (it's the subject of his forthcoming book), while novelist Sebastian Barry discusses his fictional homes (from Annie Dunne's to the mental hospital in Secret Scripture) and their relationships to real places. Cyberhomes sees Andrew O'Hagan and John Lanchester question whether social media is a safe home for our money (Bitcoin) and personal details. Mathieu D'Aquin looks at the role of algorithims in our lives. Catherine Corless, the historian who uncovered the deaths of children at the Tuam mother and baby home, which led to the establishment of the baby homes commission, talks about her work, and Liz Fekete asks what is happening with our European home, in the context of new fault lines on the continent.

Poets Paula Meehan, Vona Groarke, Martina Evans, and Rita Ann Higgins discuss the theme of home in poetry, while Lucy McDiarmid explores poems with a direct bearing on homes in which the poets have lived. Fellow poet Theo Dorgan reflects on the working-class Cork city house where he grew up as one of 13, while Andrew O'Hagan will talk for the first time about his travels with Seamus Heaney and Karl Miller.

President Michael D Higgins, on his home turf in Galway, will start the ball rolling with a meditation on the idea of home.

The home theme crops up again at Druid Theatre, in their own home space of the Mick Lally Theatre, with two new plays: Furniture by Sonya Kelly is a comedy about how the things we own shape our world view; and Cristin Kehoe's Shelter is a portrait of life on the edge.

Galway International Arts Festival July 16th-29th.

Arminta Wallace

Arminta Wallace

Arminta Wallace is a former Irish Times journalist

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times