Delphiniums in the garden. Photograph: Getty

Dowdeswell’s delphiniums are the ones to pick – a hybrid all the way from New Zealand

Anenomes in the garden. Photograph: Getty

Expert gardeners select the plants that have outperformed the rest in weather extremes

Savouring the very first homegrown potatoes or carrots is a magical feeling

Kitchen gardening is strangely addictive, sometimes frustrating and hugely rewarding

Growing plants from cuttings is a wonderfully satisfying way to grow your own plants for free.

If we have learned anything, it’s a new appreciation for traditional propagating skills

Textile artist Nicola Brown  at her home and studio in Borris, Co Carlow. Photograph : Laura Hutton

Eco textile artist Nicola Brown produces botanical dyes at her farm near Borris

Wildflower meadow at the  National Botanic Gardens. The gardens reopened to the public on May 18th having  been closed since March 28th. You can once again stroll along the heavily scented paths and meadows in the 50 acres of heaven in Glasnevin.   Photograph: Fran Veale

The annual garden festival is cancelled because of the coronavirus, but there is plenty for gardeners to do this weekend

Don’t skimp on quality when it comes to using a good, fresh, loam-based, multipurpose compost for your summer containers. Photograph: Getty Images

Don’t be afraid to combine summer-flowering bedding annuals with longer-lived shrubs

Lockdown rules: so many people having to stay at home meant demand for plants soared even as the same restrictions kept garden centres closed. Photograph: Ariel Skelley/Digital Vision/Getty

The two-month coronavirus hiatus has given flora time to look ‘look absolutely fantastic’

Gardening with children

Here are some fun ways to share the special magic of gardening in the months ahead

May is one of the busiest months of the Irish gardening year, a time to sow and plant many kinds of vegetables, herbs and ornamentals.  Getty

Many different kinds of vegetables can be sown directly into the ground now

Invest in just a few packets of seeds and tubers of summer-flowering varieties over the coming weeks and you’ll be astonished by the abundant beauty  they’ll bring you, right through to late autumn. Photograph: Getty Images

If you have a sunny spot to spare, these are the flowers to plant out

A patch of home-grown cosmos. Photograph: Richard Johnston

It’s a spring like no other but there are still seeds to be sown and plants to be tended

A garden polytunnel. Photograph: Richard Johnston

All kinds of heat-loving vegetables can be grown under cover, and flowers too

A variety of vegetables and herbs growing on a small balcony in Dublin. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Even the smallest spaces can accommodate a fine array of container-grown edible plants

A faster, less laborious alternative to single-digging is to build some raised beds. Image: Getty Images

Pick a sunny spot, prepare the soil and start planting vegetables and flowers

 As public concern grows for the vulnerability of the food chain during the  pandemic, gardeners are discovering the international seed supply chain is not immune to  challenges.   Photograph: Getty Images

Online orders for Irish seeds rise dramatically in wake of Covid-19 restrictions

Pots of young seedlings ready to be pricked out. Photograph: Richard Johnston

By late spring you’ll have hordes of baby plants ready to be planted outdoors, all for the price of a few packets of seeds

Freshly-harvested French beans and tomatoes. Photograph: Richard Johnston

From peas to radishes, spuds to spinach, these will give you a harvest in no time

St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the start of the potato-planting season in Ireland.  Photograph: Getty Images

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get going in the garden

Jennifer Jewell: “I see hope and value in a self-sustaining cycle of living with plants, loving plants, learning plants, growing plants, knowing plants, interpreting plants.”  Photograph:  John Whittlesey

A “forest” of women across the world are connected by their love of plants and flowers

Cluain na dTor gardens in Donegal. Photograph: Seamus O’Donnell

We can easily recreate the sense of an Australian rainforest, leafy Asian woodland or a sun-baked Mediterranean garden, at home

Sarah Price’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 garden. Photograph: Clare Takacs

There are many ways to create a beautiful slice of nature in the smallest of spaces

Jobs to do in the garden

Itching to get going in the kitchen garden or allotment? Here’s a handful of crops to start growing now

Box hedging in an Irish garden. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

Bush fruit, nut trees, hedging and specimen trees can be planted now, while they are in winter hibernation

Snowdrops.

Fragrant, flowering shrubs herald the start of a new growing season

Radish

It may be cold and muddy but there’s pruning, planting and planning to be done

Photograph: Getty

Frilly flowers, tasty potatoes and onions worth waiting for can all be grown from seed

A wildlife-friendly pond. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Stop using pesticides, allow weeds to grow and go for pro-pollinator planting

Horticultural entertainment and inspiration for gardeners. Photograph: Getty Images

These inspiring shows will take you all over the gardening world

Freshly harvested produce in the walled kitchen garden of Burtown House in Co Carlow. Photograph: Richard Johnston

The kind of gardens we want to create will radically evolve over the coming decade

Wild about Weeds, Garden Design with Rebel Plants by  Jack Wallington

Winter has its icy grip on the garden leaving little for the gardener to do except pick up a good book

Ceramic ‘Girl Power Vase’ by For All Womenkind (€35, aprilandthebear.com )

From “Brexit” seeds to hanging pots – what to give the green fingered person in your life

A litter of fox cubs emerging from their den in Delgany, Wicklow. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Some argue that we feed birds, hedgehogs and other wild animals, so why not foxes?

A handful of homemade leafmould. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

One of nature’s great gifts to gardeners is a simple free way to lavish love on your plants

Freshly harvested Irish plums. Photo Credit Richard Johnston

Supermarkets are piled high with fruit imports but it’s not hard to grow your own

Avoid putting out very salty, stodgy or highly processed foods in the feeder.

Set your bird table and feeders at least two metres from ground cover so they can’t be ambushed easily by cats

Pinus mugo ‘Carsten’s Wintergold’ a slow-growing conifer that is a great choice for a winter container. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

A generous pot of trailing and upright evergreens will create a pleasing lushness in the winter garden

The lipstick-pink and orange fruits of the native spindle tree, Euonymus europaeus, in their autumn glory. Photograph: Richard Johnston

These six shrubs and trees feed birds and make tonics and syrups for humans

Some of Ireland’s loveliest gardens put on a fine display of autumn foliage

A selection of ripe seedpods and seed from Fionnuala’s garden in autumn including tagetes, nicandra, lunaria and papaver. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Calendula, tagetes, sweet pea and poppies are just a few of the season’s flavours

Peony in flower. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

Now is the perfect month to plant spring-flowering bulbs including narcissus, crocus, scilla and allium

Garlic ready for planting. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Best of all, growing your own means avoiding supermarket bulbs shipped from China

A snowdrop emerges from its bulb. File photograph: Getty

Product from UK nurseries could be pricier, but there’s potential to grow more here

Jimi Blake in his west Wicklow garden, Hunting Brook. Photograph: Sean Jackson

New book shows all sides of this Irish horticultural genius and his beloved Hunting Brook in west Wicklow

Tulip ‘Absalon’. Photograph: Jacque Amand

Here’s a shortlist of just some of this year’s ‘must-haves’, along with a guide to reliable suppliers

Fig tree: originating in Asia Minor, the culinary fig (Ficus carica) is  one of the earliest species of fruit cultivated by humankind. Photograph:  BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A fig tree will happily grow in a sunny spot, or in a polytunnel or greenhouse

Tanguy de Toulgoët at Dunmore Country School. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Tanguy de Toulgoët’s Co Laois plot is a flower-filled, hugely productive family garden

Dahlias: Dahlias are notorious for the ease with which the tubers of different varieties can accidentally get mixed-up. Photograph: Getty

Important to deadhead, water and liquid feed container-grown flowering plants

Consider drying fruit during abundant harvests

This damp August has created optimum soil conditions for seeds to germinate

The spectacular display of produce at the Totally Terrific Tomato Festival at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Photograph: Jonathan Hession

It takes time and expertise to coax these greedy, sun-loving, thirsty plants to give of their very best

Persicaria ampexicaulis ‘fat Domino’.  Photograph:  Richard Johnston

Add colour and texture to the garden with these hardy perennials

Sweet pea flowering in Fionnuala’s flower farm. No photo is going to let you know what it feels like to breathe in the intoxicating perfume of sweet pea in full bloom on a warm summer day. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

The many different smells of a summer garden have the power to stimulate our senses in mysterious ways

lys Fowler: “Being that tidy-minded is not only an awful lot of hard work, it also comes at an enormous cost to our wellbeing.”

The gardening writer was in Ireland just before the same sex marriage vote

Giverny, France - June 8th, 2017: Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, in the background the house of Monet can be seen. Photograph: Getty Images

This week in the garden: Irish gardeners share their top places to visit on holidays

Caution: garden eating deers about. Photograph: Alan Betson ,

Deer find certain plants delicious, like camellia and roses, but they don’t like rhurbarb

Few plants can beat the rose for its intensity and richness of scent plus the sensuous beauty of its blooms. Photograph: Richard Johnston

While most roses will like space, a rich, fertile soil and full sun, there are some that will cope well with all kinds of conditio(...)

Birds, frogs, hedgehogs, centipedes and beetles are all predators of slugs. Photograph: DK/Getty

Hoe your way to happier, faster-growing plants and let nature take care of the slugs

Cheiranthus cheiri F1 Hybrid, Sunset Apricot wallflower

Don’t buy from a garden centre in early autumn, propagate from seed sown now

Florists are eschewing outdated ‘toxic’ oasis foam for natural, curly stalks in a vase

Fashionable florists choose simple posies over imported flowers and ‘toxic’ foam

From garden festivals and talks to the hundreds of lovely Irish gardens open to the public, there is plenty to enjoy this month. Photograph: Getty Images

Lots to see and do this month plus garden festivals, workshops and open days to get you going

Bloom: five-year-old Adrianna Fayiah, seven-year-old Eoghan Fox and four-year-old Florence Marlow Ward at the launch of this year’s Phoenix Park garden festival. Photograph: Alan Betson

What’s on, where to buy tickets, where to eat and how to get to the Dublin showground

If a plant looks particularly miserable, it may need to be repotted  or potted on.

Freshly potted plants should be placed away from direct sunlight and high temperatures

Liat and Oliver Schurmann, who are bringing an underwater marine garden, called Aquamarina, to Bloom. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Climate change is a focus for some of Ireland’s top gardeners at Phoenix Park festival

For centuries, lilac has been prized as a cut-flower. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Grow them as a shrub or small tree in a lawn, an informal hedge, or even trained against a high wall where their foliage will act (...)

TJ Maher in his garden Patthana in Co Wicklow, planting summer containers. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Now is the time to start planting pots that will burst into colour in high summer. Artist and gardener TJ Maher shares some of his(...)

Aquilegia flowering in an Irish garden. Photograph: Richard Johnston

These May flowers will bridge the gap between the spring bulb rush and summer

A cluster of pots filled with culinary herbs. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Most culinary herbs can be grown in pots or tubs while plenty will stay compact enough to grow very happily in a window-box

Joyce Russell: lifelong gardening passion began in her childhood in the Yorkshire dales. Photograph: Ben Russell

New book from west Cork gardener Joyce Russell is full of simple, practical advice

Bumble bee feeding on cosmos flower. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Let’s celebrate some of the loveliest flowering plants for the Irish garden

June Blake’s garden near Blessington, West Wicklow, will also be celebrating its “Month of Tulips” throughout April with a spectacular display of these spring-flowering bulbs.

Sow organic seeds, cut less lawn and let the wild things grow in your garden

Well rotted manure makes an excellent organic mulch. Photograph credit: Richard Johnston

Spread lightly at this time of year a good organic mulch helps to protect against the effects of summer drought

Triona Noonan  in her garden in Dun Laoghaire with some of her prized alpine and rock plants Photo Credit Richard Johnston

Alpines and miniature species will happily grow in small pots and stone troughs

Custom-made leather tool belt from the small family-run US firm Wheeler Munroe, whose belts are things of beauty as well as lifesavers for busy multi-tasking gardeners.

Great tools can help you become a great gardener. Here’s some of the best

Close-up of the delicate spring flowering, black cherry plum blossom also known as Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’,

A bad case of Prunus plantlust - fed by this year’s early splendid displays of blossoms

The native Irish primrose (Primula vulgaris) flowering in an Irish woodland this spring.  Photograph:  Richard Johnston

Few plants are as charming as this hardy, spring-blooming, native wildflower

The golden flower heads of Stipa gigantea

Fionnuala Fallon: Preparation put in over coming weeks will be repaid tenfold in future months

Photograph: Moment/Getty

Follow the three Ds by using secateurs to remove any dead, diseased or dying wood

The size of the material in your compost heap will  affect the speed at which it breaks down.  Photograph: Getty

Known as ‘gardener’s gold’, kitchen waste and even human hair can be transformed in to a rich mulch in a matter of weeks

Many Irish gardens are filled with one of the best and earliest-ever displays of snowdrops. Photograph: Moment/Getty

Altamont, in Co Carlow, has one of greatest displays of any Irish garden open this month

Sheltered beneath that all-important protective skin of glass or polythene sheeting, plants enjoy a modified microclimate that facilitates growth.

Cheaper than a greenhouse and easier to put up, a polytunnel takes your gardening to a new level

Niamh O’Donohoe, the young National Botanic Gardens-trained horticulturist

You need barrow-loads of intelligence and creativity, a strong back and green fingers

Artfully pruned: the branches of the deciduous conifer Larix decidua frame herbaceous planting in June Blake’s garden in west Co Wicklow. Photograph: Richard Johnston

But look beyond the triffid-like leylandii, for plants that work with other fashionable foliage

Now is the  time to rifle through the pages of the new crop of seed catalogues. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Not much happens in the January garden but it's a good time to find summer inspiration in seed catalogues

We can all do our bit in the garden to protect plants and wildlife. Photograph: Getty Images

We need to start future-proofing our gardens to cope with meteorological extremes

Photograph: iStock

This year’s fine crop tackles everything from wartime gardens to a guide to propagation

Christmas wreath: everything to make it comes from the wild or from the garden. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Keep it natural with local, simple and seasonal willow, twigs and berried branches

David Austin rose ‘Strawberry Hill’ from Mr Middleton – €22

Trees to plant, gloves to wear, cards to write trowels to dig, seeds to sow and a pad to rest

House plants decoratively displayed are a favourite with Instagrammers

Thank Instagram for endless shots of spider plants dangling from macrame pot-hangers

A Japanese acer in brilliant autumn colour in Heen Dillon’s old garden. Photograph:  Richard Johnston

November marks the start of bare-root season making it a good time to plant a deciduous tree

The Mottisfont glasshouse, one of the Alitex National Trust range

Plants can grow with lush abandon all winter long in a good greenhouse

Freshly harvested Irish plums. Photo:  Richard Johnston

Who has the space to grow apples, plums, pears, medlars or quinces? Anyone with a pocket-sized patch, that’s who

Seamus O’Brien, head gardener at National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh – and now author

Some of loveliest plant species in Irish gardens hail from the tiny Indian state of Sikkim

Paperwhites: their tall, deeply perfumed, multi-headed ghostly white flowers can fill a room with their scent. Photograph:   Mr Middleton

With a little forward planning, you can have a beautiful addition to the Christmas table or a lovely gift for the flower-lover in (...)

Delicate flowers: no summer garden is complete with sweet pea’s ruffled, ephemeral beauty. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Sow by the end of November for bigger, stronger, longer-flowering plants

Freshly harvested courgettes sit next to nasturtiums in an Irish garden. Photo credit Richard Johnsto

Prepare beds, mulch, think about planting fruit trees and hardy crops – and save seeds

The violet, drumstiock flowers of Allium ‘Globemaster’ , an early summer flowering bulbous plant.  Photograph:  Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon: Autumn is here, but think of spring and plant as many bulbs as you can

Wild-flower meadow. Photograph: Moment/Getty

You don’t need huge space to grow a meadow garden – and now is the time to sow it

Nigella seed heads drying in a glasshouse. Photograph: Richard Johnston

Fionnuala Fallon: Watching a plant spring to life from a seedling or cutting is utterly magical

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