As the ever-changing weather proves a constant challenge to us all, gardening maverick Diarmuid Gavin contemplates his own plot.
You would have thought that when he moved to a new house in Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland, Diarmuid Gavin, the enfant terrible of gardening, would have wasted no time hauling in the diggers, landscaping materials, amazing plants and architectural altars.
He said: “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 I couldn’t decide on a good design which would satisfy the family.
“I made the terrible mistake of ripping out everything 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 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.
“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.”
* See Diarmuid Gavin live at BBC Gardeners’ World Live which runs from June 12-16 at the NEC, Birmingham. Visit BBC Gardeners World or call 0844 5811340.
Jobs for the week
Pick: small gooseberries to thin out heavy crops, leaving the remaining fruits well spaced out along the branches to continue growing to a larger size.
Prune: late spring shrubs like forsythia and broom after flowering.
Sow: salad leaves, radish and spinach at intervals in late spring and early summer to ensure a continuation of cropping for the longest season possible.
Leave: old flowers on some hellebores such as H niger and H orientalis to allow them to self-seed.
Spike: over border soil regullarly with a fork to alleviate compaction.
Good enough to eat
Cauliflowers are known to be tricky to grow, largely because they suffer from the same problems as cabbage, including insect pests such as cabbage root fly and cabbage white butterflies.
Cover newly transplanted plants with garden fleece or fine netting. Cabbage caterpillars can be a real nuisance as they burrow in the developing curds (heads) and ruin them.
If your netting is securely anchored and held clear of the plants on wires or hoops, the adult butterflies will not be able to lay their eggs on them.
Cauliflowers can also be prone to clubroot, a fungal infection which attacks the plant through the soil via its root hairs. This will lead to massive swelling, distortion and severely hampered growth.
Resistant varieties such as Clapton and Clarify are available and a combination of crop rotation and liming should help to prevent the disease.