Annual Farmleigh Plant Fair

Have you any plans for the bank holiday weekend…why not pay a visit to the Annual Farmleigh Plant Fair on Sunday…. In addition to over 25 plant nurseries there will be about 10 other stalls selling garden paraphernalia, prints, and related garden items.

There will also be lectures by Mary Keenan of Gash Gardens and The Irish Garden on how to get the best from your garden in the autumn and floral art demonstrations by Chelsea Gold Medal winner  Christopher White.

A Northern tour of Partner Gardens

Stretching from Antrim right around to Donegal we have eight great Partner Gardens
waiting for you to explore!

Seaforde Gardens, Rowallane Garden and Mount Stewart are south of Belfast in Co Down,
with Ballyrobert Gardens and Benvarden Garden to the north in Co Antrim. Then across to
Oakfield Park and Salthill in Co Donegal and last but not least to Killyreagh Garden in Co
Fermanagh. A suggested tour for a few days but the choice is yours!

Seaforde Gardens are part of a historic demesne with lots to enjoy including its Tropical
Butterfly House, Ireland’s oldest living maze, rare and venerable trees and a Herb Garden
with a Mughal Tower. The National Trust’s Rowallane Garden and Mount Stewart House
and Gardens, within a half hour of each other, are among the most beautiful and prestigious
gardens on the island. Along with the many horticultural treasures at Rowallane, are the
summer roses and perennials including The National Penstemon Collection. Meanwhile
Mount Stewart’s Arts and Crafts-style designed gardens and huge plant collection are the
jewels within their larger demesne.

By contrast, about a half hour north of Belfast, Ballyrobert Gardens comprises six acres
of charming gardens nestled into the countryside. Informal herbaceous planting around the
old farm cottage gives way to an orchard, woodland, meadows, streams and a lake. There is
a cottage-garden plant nursery attached. Heading on up towards the northern coast is
Benvarden Garden, near Ballymoney. Enclosed since the 17th century, the restored walled
garden has a formal area with a central fountain, box parterre, rose arches, herbaceous
borders, and a well stocked adjoining kitchen garden. There is also a woodland area leading
down to the banks of the River Bush.

Thence over to Co Donegal and Oakfield Park in Raphoe. This 18th century Georgian
Deanery has won several national awards for the restoration of its gardens and buildings. On
the 100 acre estate you’ll find beautiful parkland, formal gardens man-made lakes, walled
gardens, follies, parterres, and much more! Heading south to Mountcharles, on the edge of
Donegal Bay is the romantic Salthill Garden. The circa 1 acre walled garden behind a
Georgian house and old farm buildings has its own microclimate with a profusion of
perennials, roses, shrubs and vegetables woven between winding grass and gravel paths.
A 50 minute drive south along the scenic shores of Lower Lough Erne brings you to
Enniskillen and nearby Killyreagh House Garden. From the front of the listed Georgian
house this peaceful and tranquil garden leads down a sloped lawn to a pond and beautiful
views beyond over the surrounding fields and hills.

Happy visiting!

Free or reduced entry to RHSI members on presentation of current membership card.
It is essential to check with each garden by email/phone or their own website before
visiting. Some are by appointment only. Full information on these gardens is in the
Partner Garden section of the RHSI website. The full-size map is very useful to
visualise garden locations.

Carlow Garden Festival

Dermot O’ Neill

Dermot O’Neill, the voice of gardening on Irish radio and television for decades, died on 01 July. Maybe you heard him on radio talking gardens with Pat Kenny or Derek Mooney or perhaps you enjoyed his slots on The Garden Show with Helen Dillon or on Live at Three? He gave sensible gardening advice in plain language all of us could understand.

A plantsman to his bones, Dermot had an encyclopaedic knowledge of how, when, and where to grow almost anything. He was one of that exceptional generation of gardeners trained by Barney Johnson at Marlfield Nursery. An excellent writer and lecturer, he was completely at home in front of a microphone. He loved to travel and trips he organised to South Africa, China and Madeira are the stuff of legends. He was a member of the Council of the RHSI, a founding member of the IGPS and a patron of the homeless charity Threshold.

Restoring the walled garden at Clondeglass, Co Laois was the great adventure of Dermot’s middle years. Making that garden was therapy while he endured lengthy cancer treatment. Much was achieved, but ultimately plans for the garden were not fully realised. His book ‘Clondeglass; Creating a Garden Paradise’ shows how much had been done by Dermot and his many friends against the odds and how important the garden was in Dermot’s path to recovery.

In talking to some of Dermot’s life-long friends for this piece, they remembered an optimistic, curious, convivial man who enjoyed people and who inspired lasting and protective friendships. Something of a gourmet, he liked his red wine. He was interested in architecture, in gemstones, in antiques. He loved to visit art galleries, old churches and, of course, gardens. He was generous in meeting fellow gardeners, patient and courteous.

Fifty-eight was too young to die. Goodbye Dermot and Godspeed.

Mary Hackett

Robert & Meg’s Summer Garden

Partner Garden day trips from Dublin

Fancy a summer day trip from Dublin to some marvellous Partner Gardens west or south of
the city? Here are a few ideas…

Travelling west from the city via Tallaght, you could visit Jimi Blake’s Hunting Brook
Garden, then on to June Blake’s Garden nearby, and finish 15 minutes further on with a
tour of the RHSI Russborough Garden and some well earned refreshment. Jimi Blake’s
internationally known, flamboyant, ever changing 20 acre garden holds one of Ireland’s
largest private plant collections. Whilst his sister June Blake’s very individual 3 acre country
garden with its exciting bold herbaceous borders, beautiful stone buildings and more offers
something delightfully different. The volunteers working in the RHSI Walled Garden at
Russborough are always really appreciative of those who come to view the fruit of their
labours in this beautifully evolving garden. The excellent Russborough Cafe is the final

Deep in the heart of Wicklow, but so worth a visit, is the almost secret Kiltegan village
garden, Patthana.  A true panorama of colour and artistry, from the packed courtyard around
the old granite house, to the upper terrace and then out to the newly created Torc garden…..

Heading south from Dublin, on the northern outskirts of Bray is the 1780 walled garden of
the charity Festina Lente. The restored ornamental gardens have huge community
involvement with beautifully kept allotments, formal gardens and ponds which are a
designated sanctuary for terrapins. Just south of Bray are the magnificent 17th century
classically French-designed gardens of Kilruddery. Set in the 200 acre estate are extensive
woodlands, the famous long ponds, formal, sunken and walled gardens and beautiful yard
buildings including a large converted granary cafe.

Further south along the M11, in the village of Ashford are the 20 acre Mount Usher
Gardens. These beautiful Robinsonian style gardens set along the banks of the River Vartry
are home to a superb and important collection of shrubs and trees- many of them
champions. There is also extensive informal woodland and riverside planting. Just half a mile
away at Rossanagh is the romantic Dower House and garden. With a charming formal white
garden, a wild flower meadow and a great variety of unusual trees it has deservedly been
described as one of Wicklow’s finest gardens.

Free or reduced entry to RHSI members on presentation of current membership card.
It is essential to check with each garden by email/phone or their own website before
visiting. Some are by appointment only. Full information on these gardens is in the
Partner Garden section of the RHSI website.

For future reference…
Run by the OPW (and not a Partner Garden!) are you aware that Kilmacurragh, Ireland’s
second Botanic Garden after Glasnevin, is just 15 minutes south of Ashford? It’s a must for
new and return visitors.

Airfield Estate Gardens

Ardan Garden

Ballintubbert Gardens and House

Ballycommane Garden

Ballyedmond Castle Garden

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ballyrobert Gardens

Bantry House and Garden

Belvedere House Gardens & Park

Benvarden Garden

Birr Castle Demesne

Blarney Castle and Gardens

Burtown House and Gardens

Colclough Walled Garden

Collon House

Coolaught Walled Garden

Coolwater Garden

Dawros Gallery & Garden

Dower House

Dromana House and Gardens

Festina Lente

Fota House – Victorian Working Garden

Gash Gardens

Glenarm Castle Walled Garden

Glenavon Japanese Garden

Hester Forde Garden – ‘Coosheen Garden’

Hunting Brook Gardens

Irish National Stud and Gardens – The Japanese Gardens and St. Fiachra’s Garden

Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum and Gardens

June Blake’s Garden

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall

Kilgar Gardens

Killruddery House and Gardens

Killyreagh Garden

Kilmokea Country Manor and Gardens

Kilravock Garden

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden

Lodge Park Walled Garden

Loughcrew Gardens


Mount Stewart House and Gardens

Mount Usher Gardens

Oakfield Park

Old Deanery Garden

Patthana Garden

Rothe House Museum and Garden

Rowallane Garden

Salthill Garden

Seaforde Gardens

Seanabea Cottage


Strokestown Park Gardens

Tourin House & Gardens

Tullynally Castle Gardens

Tyrrelstown House Garden

Woodville Walled Garden

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