When Joanne Butler and her family moved to a cottage in Gortahork, Co Donegal, in 2008, they didn't foresee how the recession would change their ambitious plans for the garden which, at that time, was just run-down land.
After renovating their 300-year-old cottage, Joanne said: "We had to take stock and to start planning the garden more carefully, more slowly and more imaginatively with no money left in the bank, so to speak."
Armed with a plan and a well-researched shortlist of suitable plants, she found that buying 400 plants at €2 each on average was going to be too expensive.
"This is when I found my love of propagation. I found an old overgrown box hedge on a walk one day, and took a few cuttings from that. When they grew for two years, I took about 40 cuttings from them, and now this year I will hopefully get the 400 cuttings I'm looking for, and in two years' time they will be ready to go in the garden."
If she does buy seeds, she uses an online retailer in Co Mayo, called seedaholic.com. "My limit is usually €20 per year."
Joanne enrolled in a short horticulture course in 2009, on which she met many like-minded gardeners. "This was a great way for me to start swapping seeds and plants and also be able to borrow tools I couldn't really afford or that I only needed on a one-off basis."
She also hooked up with a neighbour with a "wealth of experience and knowledge of what grew in our area", after which she left with a "car-load" of slips and cuttings.
Joanne has also made plans for cost-effective maintenance once the garden is finished, including investing in a wormery and collecting rain for watering by any means available, such as old baths, the wheelbarrow and so on.
For any major work that might be needed in the future, Joanne has joined a small, local bartering group called Let's Link Donegal. "So, instead of me paying money, for example, to someone helping me plant 100 trees, I will offer them in return something that they might need."