'My green retreat helped during gruelling treatment' - TV gardener Dermot O'Neill
Green-Fingered Dermot O'Neill had long known the health benefits of tilling the soil - but after eight months of cancer treatment, his leafy retreat provided a special kind of therapy.
The popular radio and television gardener was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009 at a time when he was working on his beloved walled garden in Clondeglass in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co Laois.
"The treatment was tough - at one point I had a hole drilled in my head," recalls O'Neill.
"I remember planting lots of lovely things in the garden before I got ill. I wasn't able for gardening while in treatment but visited it occasionally."
When he had finished his treatment, he took his recovery slowly but was well enough to plant a batch of hyacinths.
He was cheered by the sight of chickens and geese, which were making the most of the green space.
"I had lost my sense of taste and smell, so the first time I was able to enjoy the scent of roses was special."
Dermot, who has been cancer-free since 2011, will speak about the benefits of gardening at the Irish Cancer Society's conference on survivorship in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.
Indoor plants or a container of flowers or plants can bring benefits too, he will say.
Right now he advises gardeners to plant daffodils to flower in spring.
"If you buy tulips now, keep them in a cool, dry place. You can plant them at the end of October or early November," he added.