#MindYourself: Actress June Rodgers reveals her happy place is in her beloved garden
As part our 'Mind Yourself' series, comedian June Rodgers talks about her happy place…. the garden.
At this time of the year, June Rodgers’ life goes into full production mode, as she gears up for her annual spectacular Christmas show at the Red Cow Moran Hotel. June is one of the most popular and funny character actors in Ireland, and her shows are always brilliant, with everyone from Kylie Minogue - complete with June in a fatsuit and gold hotpants - to Dolly Parton and Cher getting her special brand of parody treatment.
With costume fittings, hundreds of lines and songs to learn, not to mention working with a cast of seven singers and dancers, June is not only the star of the show but its co-producer with Brenda Brooks and director. With her mind racing and phone constantly ringing, her happy place is her gorgeous garden.
“If I’m in the house, I’m always on the phone or computer,” she says. “Spending a couple of hours in the garden clears my mind and recharges my brain, as it’s a place that I can kind of lose myself in. It rests my mind and I don’t think about work when I’m weeding and tidying, and it’s great because when I have such a busy show ahead, my mind is working overtime and I’m not sleeping at night. When I come back into the house afterwards, I’m recharged to tackle scripts and all the rest of it. I'm involved in every aspect of the production, so it never stops as I have to make sure everything is right.”
June grew up in Tallaght village, and while she dreamed of being a singer, she was shy and self-conscious and never imagined she would end up famous. She originally worked in Japanese technology company, Fujitsu Ireland, and her showbiz career developed when she became involved in the Tops of The Town competition.
June’s love of the garden came from her dad Alex, who also grew veg. Visitors to the house always went away with a present of a bag of tomatoes or potatoes. “There wasn’t much money around so everyone was self-sufficient,” says June. “One of our neighbours was a bee-keeper, and we would get honey from him and he’d get potatoes from us.”
After her mum died, June bought the gorgeous old stone cottage in Firhouse with her dad, and the big garden was one of its principal attractions. Sadly Alex died six months later aged 63, but June continued planning out the garden and worked hard on it over the years. It has evolved into a gorgeous oasis of calm and colour, particularly in the summer, when everything is in full bloom.
She went on to marry her husband, Peter Lane, and they live in the house with their two dogs, Beauty and Poppy. Peter is also keenly interested in the garden, but he prefers cutting back and chopping. “I have to hide the secateurs from him,” jokes June, “but it’s great that we have it as a common interest. I hate weeding as it’s hard on the old knees and hips, but it has to be done. I really love my garden and find it such a lovely place to relax. For example, yesterday, I went out and sat down on the bench and threw the ball for the two dogs, and it really calmed my mind.”
June has to be “on” all the time, especially now coming up to the show, which opens next week. Strictly Come Dancing star Tristan MacManus has choreographed the routines, adding plenty of his Latin and Ballroom pzazz to the routines. With her cast of seven singers and dancers, and the hilarious routines and parodies that June is famous for, it promises to be a great night. This year, there is an added dimension with children from Xquisite Dance performing Tristan's routines.
June’s favourite plant is a stunning creamy-white hydrangea in her front garden called Annabella, that people often call to the door and ask her about. She also loves verbena, as it attracts butterflies, and as a famed nature and animal lover, she tries to attract some wildlife into the garden as well.
“We have frogs in the pond and hedgehogs and a few squirrels,” she says. “A new member of our family is the tortoise Kitty, who was previously owned by Peter’s dad David, who sadly passed away recently. We put niger seed in the garden, and now we have goldfinches and blue tits that we’ve never had before. I could sit there all day watching them, and it totally relaxes me and chills me out.”
June Rodgers Strictly Christmas Show runs from November 27 to December 29 at the Red Cow Moran Hotel. Dinner and show from €55. Bookings 01 4593650 or online on www.redcowmoranhotel.com/tickets