Diarmuid Gavin's Garden Designs
As the ever-changing weather proves a constant challenge to us all, gardening maverick Diarmuid Gavin contemplates his own plot and offers tips on how to make the most of your garden, whatever the weather.
You would have thought that when he moved to a new house in Wicklow, Diarmuid Gavin, would have wasted no time hauling in the diggers, landscaping materials, amazing plants and architectural altars.
Think again. The TV gardening maverick admits that it's easy to talk about garden design, to lecture on it and write books about it, but he developed a fear of it when it came to his own plot.
"I bought a new home, a show house, with a perfectly simple garden - wooden fences, sloped lawn, some scalloped shaped beds to the sides and that was it. But for the life of me, I couldn't decide on a good design which would satisfy the family," he says.
"I made the terrible mistake of ripping out everything that was here in the misguided belief that a clean sweep would provide some clarity. And then I did... nothing... for ages."
The situation became so dire that his local estate agent sheepishly approached and said Gavin was making his job selling properties very difficult because of the state of the garden.
"The ignominy! So, something needed doing. Even then I ran away from the issue. I started work indoors, knocking down walls, repainting and disposing of heavy black curtains."
Ever distracted with other projects, the TV gardener says that his own plot has progressed slowly.
"After some years I developed a plan and commissioned a beautiful illustration. Now at least we know what the garden will look like.
"The heavy building work started - a beautiful two storey veranda now crosses the back of the house allowing for outdoor living on two levels. Freshly planted wisterias are beginning to climb towards the sky, wrapped around reclaimed cast iron pillars. The foundation is in for a small summer house.
"Over Easter I shifted five tonnes of sieved topsoil in readiness for new raised vegetable beds. The big plan is to terrace - lawns, beds and borders.
"However, the big lesson is - don't do it my way. Just do as I say."
Gavin and his family live minutes from the coast. Their garden enjoys a sunny aspect but, like the rest of the country, there is plenty of rain. However, he has ploughed on and has achieved some measure of success in his choice of planting.
"The difficulty in the last few years has been the either freezing or just plain cold winters. I like to battle against the elements and the echiums that are growing up against the sitting room window are testament to that - they have been burnt by frost but even now stand at a majestic 10ft high. If you are a gardener you roll with the weather."