Gardening, gnomes, Michael Jackson and much more!


Top gardener Diarmuid Gavin’s one-man show comes to Roscommon


Award-winning gardener Diarmuid Gavin spoke to Dan Dooner ahead of his appearance at the Roscommon Arts Centre on Friday, 26th of May with his one-man show: ‘An Evening with Diarmuid Gavin’.

  Diarmuid will take the audience on a romp through his adventures in the wonderful world of gardening, even revealing some of the secrets of the Chelsea Flower Show in the process!

This is a rather original venture for a gardener. How are you feeling ahead of this tour?

I’m very, very afraid. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

  I’ve done a lot of talks and they have gone well, but this is challenging.

  I’ll be talking about what goes on at the Chelsea Flower Show and I’ll tell the stories. All gardeners have their stories; people who came up with ideas or who perfected their style. I’ve met interesting people and so I’ll also speak about what people have got up to at the shows.

  Also the stories of great gardens around Ireland, the gardens that people have made, the stories behind them and what their motivation was. It should be a fascinating but fun evening, there’s an awful lot of humour in it and lot of going behind the mystique of garden creation.

It’s not the most daunting work you’ve ever been offered though. Did I read somewhere about you being offered work in Syria by Bashar al-Assad?

Yes, we did a garden about four years ago at the Chelsea Flower Show and his consultant came in. He wanted me to work on gardens at the royal palace in Damascus! (Diarmuid refused due to Syria’s dreadful human rights records and the bloody war Assad was waging against his own people.)

How will this show work without being staged in a garden?

There will be lots of imagery. So I start off telling my story about when I was growing up and the first gardens I saw being created. A few were quite local to me, one in particular which had 150 gnomes in a tiny front yard in Rathfarnham in Dublin and the influences that would have had on me. Then I go on to look at general influences from gardening to pop art to music to Michael Jackson videos.

  I tell my story of how I bluffed my way into the Chelsea Flower Show in 1995 and years of rejection before we got to actually do a garden there!

You may have bluffed your way in but it’s gone pretty well since then!

Yeah, it’s gone okay. I always make it interesting as in it’s never as easy as probably it should be (laughs). I always want to try something new: at the moment we’re building what can only be described as a ‘dancing garden’, a mechanical garden in Dublin at the Dundrum Town Centre. We’re having all sorts of issues with wheels and clogs and machinery, but we always try and make something different.

Ahead of next Friday’s show at the Roscommon Arts Centre, what advice would you give to those tending to gardens in Roscommon?

The advice is that we have the best country in the world to garden in. We can grow plants that have originated from right the way around the world. They can do whatever they want to do. Don’t copy anybody, just enjoy the creativity of working with plants and working with colour.