Meet the Professionals

An interview with… Diarmuid Gavin, garden designer

Diarmuid Gavin Wickes

Diarmuid Gavin is one of the world’s most respected garden designers, a Chelsea show champion and a regular on our TV screens. He’s currently helping support the Wickes gardening campaign, so we pulled up a lounger to see if he had any advice for improving our lawns and gardens…

What’s best – lawn or patio?
Of the two, definitely lawns for many reasons. Too much of the country is covered with hard materials which increases the frequency of flooding if water can’t be absorbed into the soil. Grass plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen and a lawn whether wearing wonderful Wimbledon stripes of shabbily unkempt always looks great.

I put my back out laying down turf last year and didn’t properly complete the job. It’s a bit lumpy and patchy – any tips to improve it?
Get a roller from your local hire shop – hire a young fellow or lassie and sit and drink Pimms as you watch them drag the big wheel back and forward, back and forward. that’ll keep your back ship shape and your lawn level.

This year I put up a picket fence to separate the lawn from the veg patch, but it’s looking a bit sparse and unfriendly. What do you advise growing between lawn and fence to soften the edges?
Plant a mini hedge of lavender  – it’ll creep through the cracks and crevices, mature in an instant and produce myriad of dark blue flowers all summer long.

We like to lounge around the lawn in the evening swigging cold West Country cider. What’s your favourite lawn tipple?
As a non-drinker, my favourite lawn tipple is a sparkling elderflower cordial after a long day rolling in the beds and mulching in the borders.

You’ve been a successful garden designer at the Chelsea show. Any plans to give it another shot at glory?
I’m toying with the notion of submitting a design based on the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral by Sir Christopher Wren next year. I imagine an ephemeral structure, a scaled down version of the dome of St Paul’s, rising into the sky as a whimsical cage with a beautiful english garden flowing through its base.

Do you ever make room for veg within your garden design schemes?
I often do as it’s not only a wonderful thing to grow vegetables but now clients are asking for home grown plots on a very regular basis. I’ve just planted up a terrace in the south of France with an orchard, vines and wonderful figs.

And finally, if there’s one thing you could introduce to your garden to make it extra special, what would it be and why?
I’d like to introduce a lap pool, Saturday Night Fever outdoor dance floor, a helipad, a sauna/hot tub combination and a gardener to look after the rest because life is short and I believe in enjoying it.

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