Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre


IT is quite possible to design your outdoor space without using any living plants at all. There have been some very artistic and dramatic creations over time. It might suit some people but the sterile nature of such developments does not stimulate any of the senses and would not have lasting appeal.


Natural appeal

The vast majority of us are drawn to the natural landscape as it is part of our ancient DNA and heritage. It gives us comfort, peace and solitude and is etched on our memory and gives untold pleasure when we are out and about around the woods, rivers, lakes, hills and coast. Sometimes, garden designers replicate this natural world and often win prizes for their efforts but we do not necessarily want this for our garden as our needs are more complex than that and mostly need to be multifunctional.



What we can create in our garden is a design that satisfies our practical and mental needs. All it takes is a little planning. Space might be a limiting factor as to what is achieved but it is possible to have both factors with a little imagination. Some of the senses can transport you back in time to previous experiences and, hopefully, they are all positive memories. Write down all the senses that you like to create and plan your private outdoor space accordingly.


The miracle

I know about the science of growing something from a seed or a cutting but always think it is such a miracle to see the new life develop into a fruit, vegetable or ornamental plant. This is especially fascinating for primary school children. It stays with us all our lives and even Paddy from ‘Déise Men’s Shed’ has a long lasting interest in growing the perfect ‘Butterhead Lettuce’! I would encourage everyone to grow even a few plants from seed and watch and absorb the cycle of life.



Some plants like bulbs and perennials die down in the winter and, unless you remember where they are, they can be disturbed or cut to pieces during mowing, weeding or hoeing. For this reason we do not plant daffodils in lawns, and in beds put a short cane in the centre of perennials before they lose their leaves. All dwarf bulbs like cyclamen, snowdrops, miniature daffodils and tulips are planted under large spreading shrubs or near the base of trees where they remain safe.


No pressure

Time is relative and for some, the growing season is long while for others it is too short. It is true that those who wish to grow some vegetables have to make a start now while those growing fruit, flowers or ornamental plants can go at a more leisurely pace. Leafy salads are ready in five weeks with the majority of others ready to crop within 14 weeks of sowing so you can see that the main sowing period is April and May. The days are becoming lighter and, therefore, gardening is not restricted to the weekend but can be carried out during evenings for those who have a full-time job.

The main thing is to explore, dabble or jump into an enjoyable hobby.



With gardening there is a time to plan and there is a time to get into action and that period from contemplation into physically getting involved has now arrived. You can still do both but if you intend to do some gardening, it is important that this begins in earnest from now on. If you are undecided just ask for some advice, whereas the experienced gardener has already got a head start.

If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.

By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

More Well!

Waterford Photo Gallery: Ursuline Communion

Waterford Photo Gallery: Mercy Communion

More by this Journalist

Green Fingers: Plants are full of surprises

Green Fingers: May Flower