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TV gardener helps transform site

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin has helped volunteers transform wasteland at a Dublin homeless shelter into an urban oasis.

The television presenter and award-winning horticulturalist got involved after being inspired by local schoolchildren who started the Garden of Hope project in the capital's north inner city.

And he donated an oriental-style shed, part of his exhibit last year at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show, to the abandoned courtyard at the rear of the Simon Community accommodation on Sean MacDermott Street.

"I loved working on the project," he said as the 10-day labour of love was brought to a flowering finale. "I can think of no better place for an exhibit from the Chelsea Flower Show to be permanently located than on Sean MacDermott Street."

The project was dreamt up by students from nearby Larkin Community College and co-ordinated by Localise, which encourages young people to give back to their community.

The US embassy in Dublin, which works with Localise, persuaded Gavin to come on board.

Volunteers, including gardeners and garden centres, freely donated their time, plants and garden furniture to help realise the transformation, which would otherwise have cost in the region of 80,000 euro.

Glenda Wright, of the Dublin Simon Community, said they were so grateful to everyone who gave so generously of their time and materials.

"This garden will have such a wonderful impact on our residents," she said.

The Sean MacDermott street shelter accommodates more than 20 long-term homeless. The Simon Community says the stable environment helps many residents improve their physical and mental health.

PA Media