Gardening for Gorillas By Stephen Butler

The life of a zoo horticulturalist is no monkey business!

PRESS RELEASE – 25th May 2022

Gardening for Gorillas leads the reader down a densely planted path as Dublin Zoo transforms from its almost Victorian appearance to one of the world’s leading zoos and most popular visitor attractions which it is today.

Stephen Butler was fortunate during his 37 years of horticultural stewardship to be there to help usher out one era and commence another, with a progressive masterplan focusing on animal welfare and themed habitats that reflected the spirit of the animals’ natural homelands. Plants were instrumental in achieving this, from a visitors’ viewpoint, but primarily as animals also benefit from a well planted habitat, shade, shelter, and natural enrichment, which all make for improved health and wellbeing.

Every habitat saw specific and often unique challenges, especially when the work was near water. Stories of animal interactions with the plants, and insights into the creative thinking well beyond the scope of normal horticultural endeavor, make Gardening for Gorillas an entertaining read.
Native flora and fauna are included too, as dense naturalistic planting encourages insects and birds. Stephen’s all-consuming passion to get the plants to grow well, to accomplish the natural look, to achieve a better habitat for the animals, comes across on every page.

Gardening for Gorillas
 is more than just a gardening book however. The last chapter details many educational stories about plants, their names, their history, their origins, or their interesting and unusual botanical points, in particular any animal connections. There is something for everyone in these pages, irrespective of their gardening expertise.

Gardening for Gorillas
 is available from the Dublin Zoo Gift Shop and online via the Dublin Zoo Zootique online shop at for €35 plus postage. For orders outside of Ireland, please visit

Airfield Estate Gardens

Ardan Garden

Ballintubbert Gardens and House

Ballycommane Garden

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ballyrobert Gardens

Bantry House and Garden

Belvedere House Gardens & Park

Benvarden Garden

Birr Castle Garden

Blarney Castle and Gardens

Burtown House and Gardens

Colclough Walled Garden

Collon House

Coolaught Walled Garden

Coolwater Garden

Dawros Gallery & Garden

Dower House

Festina Lente

Fota House – Victorian Working Garden

Gash Gardens

Glebe Gardens

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 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

Website development: Neal Walsh Web Solutions