Saturday 27 May 2017

My garden of delight - well-known personalities reveal their gardens

Daithi O Sé in his Garden in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure
Daithi O Sé in his Garden in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure
June Rogers pictured in her garden at her home in Rathfarnham. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Domini Kemp: life is better with a garden. Photo: Aidan Crawley
Chef, Derry Clarke beside a sculpture of a deer in his garden. Photo: Damien Eagers
Andrea Hayes and David Torpey. Photo: Mark Condren.

Chrissie Russell

From classical cottage gardens and bountiful vegetable patches to hillside rockeries and child-friendly lawns, we ask some well-known personalities: how does your garden grow?

June Rodgers

June Rodgers is one of Ireland's best-loved comedians, junerodgers.net

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June Rogers pictured in her garden at her home in Rathfarnham. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

When my husband, Peter, and I bought our 120-year-old cottage 30 years ago, the garden hadn't been touched for years. It was a wilderness and we'd to get a tractor in to plough it, just to level it out. But over the years, we've worked at it bit by bit and I think now it's at a point that we are happy where we are with it.

We had red cyclamen through the winter and now spring is in the air with daffodils, tulips and all the spring bulbs coming. Soon the frogs will be back in the pond, birds nesting, and our tortoise will be back in the next week or so. There's always something going on in the garden, but I think my favourite time is June/July, when everything is up.

You're never completely done, though - everything has to be cut back and every autumn I decide something has to move. I don't worry about making mistakes planting because it can always be changed.

I love when people pass by when I'm culling and take cuttings because lots of our own plants are cuttings from friends. I have an azalea that reminds me of my good friend Marjorie Courtney, who passed away nine years ago. I was very close to her; every spring it blooms and I think of her. The garden is very personal to me: it tells its own story.

I recently had a fall and hurt my right arm, so I'm having to do a lot of left-arm gardening at the moment, which is very frustrating! I love getting out and working in the soil - it's something I find very therapeutic. The garden is the only place I can totally chill out. When I'm doing shows, or trying to learn scripts, the garden is somewhere I can retreat to where I don't have to think about anything at all.

Dáithí Ó Sé

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Daithi O Sé in his Garden in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure
 

Broadcaster Dáithí Ó Sé co-presents Today with Maura & Dáithí on RTÉ One, facebook.com/rtetoday

Gardening was something I'd always wanted to do but we hadn't had a garden until we moved down to the country two years ago. The people who'd previously owned the house had been keen gardeners and there was a lot already done for us - they'd put two apple trees in, raspberry briars and a gooseberry bush. But I put a cherry tree and two more apple trees in myself last year and my son, Mícheál (who'll be three this month), was the first person to have an apple off one of the trees.

This year, I've made a small rectangular area for growing vegetables and we've lettuce growing in there. I want Mícheál to see things grow and know where food comes from. I want him to be aware of nature. We've two bird feeders in the garden too that he loves filling up. And this year I want to get a fig tree in.

I love being out, cutting the garden in summer; it just feels good being outside - it's like an addiction.

We put a few lights around the garden to look cool, but I'm not into having a 'perfect' garden: I couldn't care less what the neighbours think. Yes, it's good to look at, but it's more important to be out using it.

Mícheál got a digger for Christmas so, as soon as the weather's better, that's going outside and we're going to get sand. Then the next stage will be getting the goal posts up!

Domini Kemp

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Domini Kemp: life is better with a garden. Photo: Aidan Crawley
 

Domini Kemp is a cook, author and owner of Alchemy Juice Co, alchemyjuice.ie

I grew up in the Bahamas and our mum was a great gardener. We always had lots of things growing, but it was a constant war with insects. I remember being so proud of sweetcorn I'd grown that was getting to a perfect size, only to open it up and find it had been completely decimated by ants. My garden here brings different challenges. I put a raised bed in a few years ago and I've eventually whittled my range down to lettuces, cavolo nero and lots of herbs.

I started with things like courgettes, tomatoes and even some potatoes, but sometimes it felt like I was waiting all summer for one courgette! What I have now is perfect for us and I really love not having to buy lettuce in the summer.

I love getting out there - as soon as it's warm enough, we're outside - but I'd rather enjoy it than be constantly pruning, weeding and planting. There's nothing nicer than stretching out on a blanket, reading a book and hearing the bees buzzing around the lavender -that's a gorgeous sound.

My favourite spot to be is under our small cherry blossom tree with a good book and a cup of tea... bliss!

When it's a sunny evening, we love eating outside but, even in the depths of winter, there's a trampoline that sees plenty of action.

Life is better with a garden, but Dublin also has some world-class parks. And I love walking around the kitchen garden in Ballyfin and, for sheer beauty, you can't beat Powerscourt Estate.

Derry Clarke

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Chef, Derry Clarke beside a sculpture of a deer in his garden. Photo: Damien Eagers
 

Chef Derry Clarke and his wife, Sallyanne, own l'Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin, lecrivain.com

To be clear, I am not green-fingered - just in case our gardener, Justin, is reading this and thinks I'm trying to take credit for his work! But I'm full of admiration for people who can make things grow and how hardy some plants are. Our house is 1,000ft up in the Dublin Mountains with plenty of wind and frosts but it's amazing what survives. When we moved in, we planted saplings all along the drive and now, when they're in bloom, it's like driving through a tunnel. I don't know what sort of trees they are, though - I told you I'm not a gardener! - but that doesn't stop me enjoying them.

Years ago, our son, Andrew, planted a silver birch, and last year we transplanted it to give it more space and it's taken off. It's a big highlight of the garden for me and I keep looking out to make sure it's surviving the winter.

We've four acres, a forest behind us and flower beds in front. A lot of it is very natural, with wild ferns and rockeries, but we also have stone and metal sculptures and various animals. Half an acre is lawn and it's my job to get on the ride-on lawnmower and cut it. It's not easy - it's not a square plot - but when I do it properly, it looks spectacular and there's something very satisfying in that.

I grow rosemary, thyme and mint - and it definitely tastes better when you grow it yourself - but the rabbits got my soft herbs and we've to be careful when we plant saplings because deer come into the garden too. There's an area at the back of the house with a hedge around it and it's like a secret garden, with a little barbecue and a sheltered bench. It's a bit of a suntrap and probably my favourite place.

But I love the front too, where you can sit and look over Dublin, with the hum of the traffic below and just the sound of the sheep and the birds around you. On a summer's day, as soon as I'm out of the restaurant, that's where I'll be.

Andrea Hayes

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Andrea Hayes and David Torpey. Photo: Mark Condren.
 

Andrea Hayes is a broadcaster and author, andreahayes.ie

My favourite spot in the garden is the deck because it's the perfect place to soak in the evening sun as it sets, and to just relax with family.

Plants are nice to have, but I think a garden needs to be functional and suitable for the family who needs to take care of it and have fun in it. When we bought our bungalow, we needed to make the garden user-friendly for us and totally transformed it - with an emphasis on being neat and functional. We have different bedding areas with low-maintenance flowers that bloom each year without much effort and give us a nice wash of colour that changes with every season.

 

We also have a cherry blossom tree, which holds a special meaning for my husband and I, and it makes me smile when I see it bloom and blossom every year. Now our daughter, Brooke (five), is growing up and getting more involved with planting and looking after her own herb growing pots, which is a joy to watch. But do I enjoy gardening? Well, honestly, not really.

Although it's a place for relaxation, I don't feel gardening is relaxing for me at the moment. I think this will change over time as I embrace my inner gardener but, for now, what we have is great for our family: a space to play, entertain and relax - what more could you ask for?

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