Lots of readers have discovered gardening for the first time during lockdown and some my feel that it can take an age - years even - to achieve results. It's so not true.
e live on a magnificent island for growing plants and with a little thought about the choice of plants to use, almost instantaneous results can be achieved.
1 Herbaceous perennials that flower all summer
I'm going to generalise here - perennials are plants which, in the main, pop up in spring each year. They often produce beautiful flowers before disappearing in autumn or winter, only to repeat this performance year after year!
So if you want your plot to be full of flowers all summer long, the easiest way to achieve this is by choosing perennial plants with a long blooming period, preferably from May to October. Geums do just this, come in bright red, orange or yellow and are so easy to grow.
Salvias are another such plant, the easiest of which are the hardy varieties such as Caradonna with beautiful deep purple spikes.
There are other tender varieties - these will need lifting before the first frost hits in November - but are well worth it in terms of flower power. 'Love and Wishes' is one of the best with red-purple flowers that emerge from the burgundy sepals. Other long bloomers are penstemons, hardy geraniums, astilbe, nepeta, astrantia and campanulas.
2 Late summer colour
Sometimes the best weather in Ireland comes at the end of summer, often in September when (hopefully) the children are returning to school. If the weather doesn't provide an Indian summer, our borders can!
The daisy family brings much joy at this time of year - golden yellow rudbeckias, coreopsis, purple echinaceas, bright sunflowers and the seemingly endless supply of pale mauve flowers from aster x frikartii 'Monch'. Helenium 'Moorheim Beauty' and Shasta daisies supply a reliable display of flowers. Cosmos is a fantastic performer at this time of year, coming in hot pinks and cool whites. Japanese anemones, crocosmia, sedum and eupatorium can all help to keep the show going until Halloween.
3 Something scented
Scent often takes a second place in garden design as, initially, we try to get things looking the way we want them to and it's only afterwards that we think about introducing fragrance.
Smell links to the emotional regions of our brains more directly than any of the other senses and it's a matter of personal taste when it comes to choosing the perfume you like. Fragrant choices for pots are lilies, dianthus and wallflowers, and plant some phlox in the borders.
All members of the mint family - usually recognisable by having a square stem - have aromatic foliage and include lavender, perovskia, rosemary, salvias, thyme, nepeta and, of course, mint itself. And on balmy summer nights, treat yourself to some nicotiana sylvestris in pots on the patio and nightstock on your bedroom windowsill.
4 Everyone should plant a rose
No flowering garden is complete without a rose, be that a shrub, climber or scrambler or all three. And speaking of scent, my choice for best perfume are 'Gertrude Jekyll', the classic pink English rose and 'Munstead Wood' for a fruity fragrance. Adorn your walls with a scented climbing rose Madame Alfred Carriere and include some Rosa rugosa 'Roseraie de l'Hay' in your boundaries.
Newbie gardeners can be scared of roses, but they're really not difficult. Choose a good variety and prepare the ground well by incorporating a generous quantity of well-rotted organic matter before planting. Give them a good liquid feed now and dead head during the summer to keep the flowers coming.
Roses love plenty of water at the roots, so at this time of year, an occasional good soaking will help encourage strong growth and quicker repeat flowering - especially significant for roses near to walls or hedges which can dry out quickly.
5 No garden is complete without... trees!
Any shaped or sized plot can sustain a tree. So whether your space is vertically or horizontally challenged, or you need a specimen in a lawn or something nice for a pot on a balcony, there'll be an appropriate tree.
The trick is to choose species that will be happy and look right in the space you have available.
Always find out from the nursery, garden centre or label what the eventual height and spread of the tree will be.
If there's no space in your plot for spreading branches, there are plenty of fastigiated or columnar trees - these are tall slim beanpoles that will reach for the sky and not your boundaries.
Similarly, if you don't want a tree that's going to dominate through its height, there are many beautiful low growing trees.
And my favourite easy-to-grow trees? The humble birch, the zen-like oriental maple, the handsome stewartia monodelpha, the grand magnolia wilsonii and the breathtakingly beautiful prunus 'pink shell' ornamental cherry.
6 The instant shrubbery
To fill a garden relatively instantly, look to shrubs. These are the foot soldiers of your plant and a well chosen collection will develop rapidly. Out front in the growing race is the remarkable Lavatera or tree mallow. It'll almost jump out of the ground and is ideal when you need bulk to fill a gap fast. It drips in pretty pink holly-like flowers which blossom through the summer, it's not fussy and will do well in most soils.
Hydrangeas whether mop head, lace cap or paniculata are summer stalwarts. Personal favourites are 'vanilla fraise' - a delightful strawberries and cream display and the cool 'Annabelle' with its subtle green and cream flower globes.
Mass plant in groups of three or five. For example, a group of mallow, then across the garden, a group of hydrangeas. This will draw your eye across the plot and create a unified scheme that looks well considered.
7 Wildflower meadow
The simplest way to grow a meadow is to stop cutting your lawn and see what happens. Let the grass grow and flower. It doesn't produce a huge amount of colour but it's just beautiful and you are providing a haven for insects. If you want a flowering meadow, you'll need to remove the grass as grass will out compete any wildflowers. Prepare soil to a fine tilth, removing weeds and stones. Broadcast your seed and rake in lightly and water. Keep watered during dry weather.
8 Flowers for cutting
Make your own bouquets and fill vases at home from your garden. Top of any list comes sweet pea. It's a plant that responds to its flowers being harvested by producing more and more. It has a wonderful fragrance and is easy to grow. Seedlings can be planted out now, but make sure they have a support to climb up such as a wigwam of bamboos, trellis or growing obelisk. A good cut flower will have a long vase life, so consider growing, lilies, sunflowers and gladioli.
9 Grow some quick veg
As well as filling your garden with colourful flowers this summer, grow some edibles as well. There's plenty you can sow directly outdoors now as the soil warms up and if space is limited, you can also grow some crops like salads, spring onions and herbs in window boxes. Use walls or trellis to grow French beans.
Or how about plucking some fresh tumbler tomatoes from your hanging baskets? Quick-maturing vegetables, such as carrots, French beans, peas, and salads can be sown in succession - this just means sowing fresh batches every fortnight, so you are getting a continuous steady supply rather than one big glut. Radish is the quickest sow-to-harvest crop - you could be crunching these spicy pink veg four weeks from now!
10 A climber
Climbers will cloak your walls and fences and disguise bare concrete walls. They can be a bit slow at the beginning to take off, but once they get going, you'll be glad you planted them.
Often climbers will be planted at the base of a wall where the concrete and foundations suck in any available water. Be aware of this and remember that a new plant going into the ground is going to be a bit stressed.
So rather than planting right up against the wall, lead your new plant in on a bamboo cane from about eight inches. Taking time to prepare the soil is important no matter what you are planting - dig in plenty of good organic manure if possible. And water liberally in the first month, especially if you are planting at this time of the year.
As for my faves....? Wisteria, which is dripping in lilac or white blossom as I write; star jasmine, full of very fragrant white blossom from May and glossy evergreen foliage, clematis armandii is another evergreen, vigorous in growth, bearing a profusion of almond-scented, star-shaped cream-white flowers from March to April; and solanum crispum 'Glasnevin' (Chilean potato vine), which was born on the north side of Dublin and will light up a sunny wall with its potato-like flowers, each with lilac petals around a pointed yellow centre.