A chat with award winning celebrity gardener Leonie Cornelius ahead of her ‘Design Your New Garden’ course Sat July 6th.


Hi Leonie!


As you are aware the Organic Centre is on the go since 1995, educating in organic growing and sustainable living. Are you looking forward to returning to the centre? 

Wow, has it been that long? That’s amazing. The Organic Centre is such a valuable resource to have and I’m really excited to return to it this Saturday on my course. 

Ireland has recently declared a Climate and Biodiversity crises. Would you like to share any thoughts in relation to that? 

It’s undoubtedly a scary time for us all when it comes to climate change and loss of biodiversity. No one really knows where it’s going to lead but creating awareness of the seriousness of the issue is the first thing which has to happen. The official declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity crisis in Ireland is a necessary and welcome starting point and there is so much more we can do-every single one of us. Everyday choices should be reflected on- buying plastic, using fuel or electricity and creating less waste. Growing our own food, even if it’s only a small amount, helps and the organic centre plays a very valuable role in educating and helping people achieve this for themselves. Growing trees and creating gardens are also valuable to wildlife and I would encourage everyone to go and plant some pollinating flowers, leave your weed flowers for the bees and plant trees. 

How did you enjoy Bloom this year and that very special partnership with the Irish Wheelchair Association?

Bloom is always a fantastic show. The buzz of creating a show garden is truly addictive. I loved this year’s garden and it held a powerful message of accessibility which I think everyone should spend some time thinking about. As a designer it really opened my eyes to ensuring that accessibility  should always, inherently be a part of my own design process. 

You have an extremely busy work schedule that demands you travel to Dublin often, but live in the North West  (Leitrim), do you enjoy coming back and does it inspire your work?

I do travel with my work quite a lot- last week I was in Dublin, Galway and Cork! I’m lucky that I enjoy travelling and seeing other places but it does get tiring. The best feeling is driving up the mountain in Leitrim and knowing I’m almost home. There’s something incredibly grounding about the Leitrim landscape and it’s here I can truly switch off.

Tell us what makes you so passionate about your ‘Design Your New Garden’ course, and worthwhile for people to attend ? 

I think gardens are very personal spaces which and become part of people’s everyday lives if created right. For me it’s important that people understand why they are making choices about layouts, materials and design and I aim to guide and empower participants to create something truly extraordinary for themselves. I love seeing how people bring their designs from dreaming up a concept all the way to making decisions about plants and materials and am always blown away with how different each and every garden is at the end of the day. This course also places emphasis on one- on -one help so people can ask questions, we explore together and so get a lot out of the day.

The Organic Centre has a new Parent and Toddler group (called Green Shoots) based at the centre every Friday and is planning one day Childrens Summer camps soon, what are your thoughts on the importance of getting out in nature for children?

That’s really cool! Introducing children to gardening is so exciting. My own son has been in the garden with me since he was born and now that he’s 12 I take him to many gardens -including Bloom where he’s helped hand out flyers- he ended up knowing the plant list better than anyone!  Seeing gardens through the eyes of a child makes us reawaken to the wonders of nature. I mean, how cool is it to see the wild pea curls in the hedgerows? Or leaves unfolding in Spring? Shapes, colours, taste, sound-the garden is a treasure trove of wonder and we should all try to see it like children -with fresh eyes. 

Pics By Colin Gillen/

Photo © Colin Gillen/

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The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, Ireland.

From within Ireland: (071) 985 4338
International: +353 71 985 4338

From within Ireland: (071) 985 4343
International: +353 71 985 4343


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