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Diarmuid Gavin talks to Build & Renovate

It’s been a joy to see so many people enjoy gardening.

Story Highlights
  • “We were delighted when we saw how the book was laid out and the reaction to it has been really, really lovely.”
  • “The garden was my salvation in a way and it was great to be able to dig, plant and sow seeds, and get on with the craft of gardening instead of designing gardens.”
  • “I’ve joined the team of ‘DIY SOS; The Big Build,’ to create some gardens with them.”
  • “The most important thing with a garden is getting the soil right and making sure that your soil is suitable for what you are planting.”

Diarmuid Gavin studied amenity horticulture at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin in Dublin. Following this he established his own garden design business. After twice winning the Royal Dublin Society Gold medal for garden design during the nineties, he displayed at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1995 and 1996.

His modern vibrant city garden in 1996 caused quite a stir and led to a career in television where through programmes such as Homefront and Planet Patio he developed an individual style in contemporary garden design.

In 2004 the BBC show Diarmuid’s Big Adventure followed him planning and creating a garden at that year’s Chelsea Flower Show which was broadcast worldwide. It helped develop an audience for his work around the globe. 2011 saw Diarmuid return to Chelsea with his ambitious Irish Sky Garden, which was the world’s first airborne garden display.

He runs a garden design studio, with clients in Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. Current projects include rooftop gardens for Harrods in Knightsbridge, a public park in Monaco, a dramatic landscape in Èze on the Cote D’ Azur and a villa garden in Prague.

His design philosophy follows the standard form and function, always listening to the client but adding a twist, an element of surprise and often fun.

Here Mr Gavin discusses his new book ‘Gardening Together,’ that he co-wrote with plantsman extraordinaire Paul Smyth.

Create and maintain a stunning and fragrant garden with Ireland’s favourite garden designer Diarmuid Find out when to prune your hydrangea, which soil suits potatoes, how to keep your lawn green and moss-free, and learn how to plan ahead with this beautiful and practical gardening book.

Packed with gorgeous photos, simple tips and tricks, and inspirational advice on plants, this book will show you month by month how to achieve striking colour schemes, enchanting scents and fabulous foliage, as well as how to plan and create a garden design to suit your lifestyle.

Inspired by Diarmuid and Paul’s TV show and online conversations, Gardening Together follows the pair in a garden year from January to December, with a monthly look at what you need to do to enjoy and appreciate your outside space like never before.

It took a long time to write the book and we missed a couple of deadlines along the way, we were in all sorts of fear and trepidation as we didn’t want to shove something out. We were delighted when we saw how the book was laid out and the reaction to it has been really, really lovely, imparted Diarmuid Gavin

“To see people getting the same enjoyment as I’ve always got in the garden, myself included as I was home for a long period of time during the pandemic for the first time ever, the garden was my salvation in a way and it was great to be able to dig, plant and sow seeds and get on with the craft of gardening instead of designing gardens. It’s been a joy to see so many people enjoy gardening, not only come to it since the pandemic began but to stick with it.

“The pandemic has changed everything for me and it has created that desire for me to be more of a home bird without a doubt as I was always travelling and running before the pandemic so to be able to stop and look at the garden and how it changes from day to day never mind month to month which is really quite amazing and joyous.My Daughter Eppie can’t stand gardening or having to water things for me, she’s 17 now and she is definitely carving her own footsteps and not following in mine,’’ enthused Mr Gavin.

As to any advice Diarmuid would offer to anyone who has an interest when it comes to working in their garden?
“There are two really good times throughout the year to begin working in your garden and they are Spring or Autumn so the next good time of the year to start working in your garden will be Autumn when a lot of plants in your garden will begin to lose their leaves and you begin to see the bone structure of the garden and you begin to appreciate what you’re dealing with.

“The most important thing with a garden is getting the soil right and making sure that your soil is suitable for what you are planting in whatever part of the garden you are going to be using for productive plants such as flowering plants or fruits and vegetables, the soil needs to be really free draining and full of fertile stuff.

If you can make that initial investment which I didn’t do and get loads of organic matter or manure from a local stable and dig that in, it will pay dividends forever more and it will double the rate of growth for your garden.

“Understand what you really love about gardens, it mightn’t be the trendy thing of the day but try and understand what gardens mean to you and create a space that is suited to you and that you will love. Is it an outdoor room or is it growing some vegetables?

Make a plan, draw a rough outline of the garden and then however long it takes you, my garden was built up over years, just make a plan and every year work towards it a little bit and achieve in the long term what you really want to,’’ he continued.

When it comes to the short term future?
“I’ve joined the team of ‘DIY SOS; The Big Build,’ to create some gardens with them. Being a part of the show is really humbling. I’m not a big television watcher so I’ve never seen the Irish or English version of the show. To see all of these volunteers come together is really quite extraordinary.

“Otherwise it’s more of the same; planning the next book, I’m about to record Mastermind in the next few weeks, continuing to design gardens for people as well as some other little bits and pieces,’’ finished Diarmuid Gavin.

Source
Words: Emer KellyImages: Gill Books

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