Future proofing Trinity College Botanic Garden by Professor Jennifer C. McElwain

Article from The Journal Autumn 2022

The oldest college botanic garden in the world, Orto Botanico di Padua, is in Northern Italy, a short trip from Venice. It was established in 1545 and has been in continuous use over its long history as a place of learning both scientific and cultural since its inception. It is recognized today as a UNESCO world heritage site. Trinity College Botanic Garden, like Padua, is a college botanic garden of considerable antiquity that was established in 1687 as a place of excellence for the study and use of plants for medicinal purposes (a physic garden) on Trinity’s main campus. The garden’s historical path has not been as continuous, smooth, nor perhaps as illustrious, as that of Padua as it has moved multiple times over the past 300 or so years, but today Trinity College Botanic Garden is an active research garden with quite a few horticultural gems occupying a multi-acre site at Darty on the Southside of Dublin.

The gardens contain an estimated 4000 plant species in its living collections, multiple arboreta, order beds, and glasshouses and a seed collection from over 60 native species within the National Threatened Plant Seedbank. Species of particular horticulture interest within the collections include Mackaya bella (Forest Bell Bush) named in honour of a former Curator of the gardens, James Townsend Mackay (from 1806 to 1862). This exceptionally rare and lovely shrub is a montane forest species native to South Africa. It grows best in dappled shade with glossy dark green evergreen leaves and stunning bell-like white to pale mauve flowers with dark pink veins that hint at the leafy evolutionary origin of petals. It will tolerate light frosts in Ireland. Another stunning specimen is Magnolia grandiflora, the Southern Magnolia. The family lineage of Magnolia trees dates back deep into the Cretaceous period over 95 million years ago when global climates were much warmer than today and the Earth was ice free. This tree will thrive in Irish gardens but needs some shelter. It is evergreen with enormous glossy leaves and unlike many other species of Magnolia produces huge sweetly scented saucer shaped flowers throughout the season. In an age of naturalistic planting schemes, we have Sanguisorba officinalis (great burnet) and Betonica officinalis (betony). Both are un-showy rare native perennials that are pollinator friendly and provide a long season of interest in borders and meadow planting. We are also growing the exceptionally rare and critically endangered Helianthemum nummularium (common rock rose). Although common in Britain it is restricted in to a single site in Ireland, the reasons why remain a biogeographic mystery.

TCBG is networked with 3758 Botanic Gardens through Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). Collectively this network are the custodians of over 105,000 plant species which represents 30% of the known global plant species inventory (Mounce et al., 2017). Approximately 1750 seed banks, many of which are housed within botanic gardens such as Trinity’s contain over 6 million seeds from an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 species (Walters and Pence, 2019). There is no question therefore that Botanic Gardens both small and famous cooperatively contribute to conservation endeavours to preserve and protect the world’s remarkable but threatened plant biodiversity. Every Botanic Garden has a role to play in the global effort because each garden holds a proportion of unique species and unique knowledge/research capacity found in few others. TCBG for instance currently contains 165 unique seed accessions collected from 60 species (29 families) in the Irish flora including species that are classified as critically endangered, threatened and vulnerable to extinction.
Our strategy over the next decade is to increase our seed bank holdings of rare native wild plants that are threatened by extinction and to highlight their plight and ecological and cultural importance through a series of short documentary films called ‘Five in 5’ Another major aim is to set up a long-term ecological and environmental monitoring network at the gardens using trees as sensors of atmospheric pollution and as responders to climate change. This year is the inaugural year of this important long-term project. Twenty trees have been selected for their horticultural, scientific, and cultural value from our Arboreta; particulate matter pollution has been quantified on their leaf surfaces using scanning electron microscopy and each tree’s physiology has been measured to monitor its drought tolerance and adaptedness. Our ambition is that this long-term project will enable researchers at Trinity to both test the effectiveness of environmental policy and to provide invaluable insights on species resilience to rising temperatures and increased frequency of extreme weather events that are predicted as part of Ireland’s climate future.

Professor Jennifer C. McElwain
Director, Trinity College Botanic Garden


Mounce R, Smith P, Brockington S. Ex situ conservation of plant diversity in the world’s botanic gardens. Nature Plants. 2017 Oct;3(10):795-802.

Walters, C. and Pence, V.C., 2021. The unique role of seed banking and cryobiotechnologies in plant conservation. Plants, People, Planet, 3(1), pp.83-91.

RHSI and IGPS at Bellefield

A heartfelt congratulations to the dedicated team of organizers and researchers for the tremendous success of the Gardening for the Future workshop held at RHSI Bellefield on Saturday, November 11th.

Your collective efforts throughout the year have resulted in a day that was both informative and engaging, leaving a lasting impact on the approximately 40 participants who attended. We extend our sincere appreciation to all involved for their commitment and hard work, which contributed to the event’s overall success.

The positive feedback received, highlighting the dynamic pace, innovative atmosphere, and hands-on workshops, underscores the valuable knowledge collectively built. This achievement not only enhances individual gardening skills but also strengthens connections within the broader gardening community.

Kudos to the entire team for translating a great idea into a fulfilling reality.
The educational component at Bellefield was executed superbly, as attested by the appreciative participants. A wonderful collaboration between RHSI and IGPS and we look forward to hosting similar events in the future.

A Gardener’s Guide to the Bare-Root Performance

As the crisp embrace of autumn paints the landscape, gardening enthusiasts eagerly await the overture of the horticultural world—the bare-root season. A seasonal spectacle that typically unfolds from the end of October to the early days of April, it dances to the whims of ever-fluctuating weather conditions. The mere mention of this period adds an extra layer of excitement to our autumnal love affair, setting the stage for a symphony of planting activities.

First to grace the garden nurseries with their presence are the enchanting currants, raspberries, strawberries, and hybrid berries. A delightful symphony of earthy scents emanates from their roots, an olfactory delight that serves as nature’s signal for the opportune time to embark on the planting journey. As these vibrant performers take their positions, a verdant stage is set for the subsequent entrance of trees, top fruit, shrubs, and hedging, answering our primal call to commune with the soil and breathe life into our outdoor sanctuaries.

Choosing the bare-root route offers a bounty of advantages; foremost is the allure of cost savings, a treasure trove that awaits those who opt for bare-root over potted alternatives. Managing these botanical treasures in bulk becomes a graceful affair, rendering them ideal for delivery, especially in the enchanting realm of mail order. A noteworthy environmental steward, bare-root planting eliminates the need for plastic pots, weaving a sustainable narrative that resonates with conscientious gardeners. With reduced transportation demands and a thrifty water regimen, this choice emerges as a verdant ode to eco-friendliness.

In the grand tapestry of planting, we find ourselves fervent advocates for the art of starting small. A belief deeply rooted in the notion that diminutive plants invest their energy in nurturing robust roots, laying the foundation for a prompt and vigorous establishment. The resounding echo that smaller plants often outshine their larger counterparts serves as a melodic reminder of the power held within the delicate intricacies of nature’s design.

Contrary to common concerns, bare-root plants don’t demand an immediate planting encore. A judicious touch, akin to a quick spray to keep the roots moist, is generally sufficient. For those not ready for an immediate planting crescendo, the ‘heeling in’ technique emerges as a practical solution. A small trench becomes the stage, roots stand upright, and a graceful backfilling operation covers them until the grand planting performance unfolds. The only temporal constraint is the dawn of spring, and our recommendation echoes through the symphony—have all bare-root performers in the ground by the poetic finale of March.

As the planting dance commences, a whispered suggestion reverberates through the garden—avoid laying out all performers at once. Especially on dry, windy days, roots may find themselves yearning for moisture, a fate we strive to avert. A choreography of small batches becomes the directive, with a nearby bucket of water serving as a conductor’s wand. Encounter a dry root during the planting sonata? A quick dip, a gentle shake, and the planting symphony resumes. The timeless adage, ‘never let a root go in the ground dry,’ remains our guiding refrain.

Sometimes, nature orchestrates the perfect day for planting—the winds hushed, a soft mist falling, just enough rain to keep roots moist without impeding the rhythmic digging. This is the moment for planting alchemy. Handle them with care, plant and firm them in with finesse, and, much like any performers—bare-root or potted—if you keep them weed and competition-free, they are poised to thrive. Here’s to the enchanting symphony of bare-root planting, where each tender step in the garden promises a harmonious crescendo of flourishing life. Best of luck with your planting endeavors!

‘Drawn from Nature’ by Patricia Butler

In Patricia Butler’s illuminating book, “Drawn from Nature,” she passionately unravels the enthralling world of Irish botanical art, with a particular focus on the incredible contributions of female artists. The Irish Society of Botanical Artists, a relatively recent establishment in 2014, currently boasts 31 members, and remarkably, only one among them is male. This gender disparity serves as a poignant contrast to the historical context of botanical art in Ireland, where the early pioneers in this field were predominantly men.

Butler’s narrative commences with an exploration of Philip O’Sullivan Beare, a member of an ancient Gaelic ruling family from County Cork, who, during his exile in Spain in the mid-1620s, meticulously cataloged Irish plants in Latin, Greek, Spanish, and Irish. While Beare did not create botanical drawings of his native flora, his systematic documentation laid the foundation for future botanical studies.

The inaugural listing of native Irish plants, found in John Parkinson’s “Theatrum Botanicum” of 1640, is an essential milestone. Notably, this pioneering text was authored by John Parkinson, an English herbalist, and regrettably, none of the illustrations within it were the work of Irish artists. Butler’s book also includes an insightful appendix that underscores the importance of precision in botanical illustrations and underscores the pivotal role of visual aids in facilitating plant identification. The advent of print technology was a groundbreaking development, revolutionizing the accessibility of botanical knowledge.

Historically, the world of botanical art was predominantly a male domain, primarily serving a functional purpose—offering visual support for the scientific study of plants. Early examples of botanical art were, more often than not, utilitarian, exemplified by James Gwim’s 1732 engraving of Potentilla anglica, which accompanied a pamphlet on tanning. The art of plant portraiture gradually evolved into a specialized skill, with the establishment of the Dublin Society’s drawing school in the mid-18th century.

A remarkable transformation began when women, with a profound passion for botanical art, started to emerge on the scene. Mary Delany’s “paper mosaics” are a standout example. These 985 masterpieces, created from meticulously cut pieces of fine-colored paper, not only exude botanical accuracy but are also exquisite works of art. These extraordinary creations represent a harmonious marriage of art and science—a transformative change that, surprisingly, goes largely unremarked upon by Butler.

The intersection of art and science gained prominence as women enthusiastically entered the realm of botanical art. Although there were a few instances of men, like William Kilburn, who successfully combined art and science, it was the female artists who truly excelled. Many of these women were aristocrats or talented amateurs who relied on their innate skills and astute observations. They pursued botanical art not as a profession, but as a fervent hobby, and their work frequently found its way into print, with some artists preferring to remain anonymous, like the Hon. Mrs. Mary Ward.

Butler’s book introduces several remarkable Irish women who shone in both botany and art, including Edith, Lady Blake, and Charlotte, Lady Wheeler-Cuffe. These exceptional women made significant contributions to the field, from sending seeds and plants to Kew Gardens to managing botanical gardens.

“Drawn from Nature” is adorned with a wealth of splendid color illustrations that magnificently complement Butler’s graceful prose. This book stands as an invaluable chronicle of the evolution of botanical art in Ireland, underscoring the pivotal role played by women in advancing the field. In conclusion, Patricia Butler’s “Drawn from Nature” is an eloquent celebration of the triumph of female botanical artists, offering profound insights into the intersection of art and science in botanical illustration.

‘Drawn from Nature: The Flowering of Irish Botanical Art’ by Patricia Butler is published by ACC Art Books.

Nurturing Resilience: Climate Change and Food Security

As horticulturists and food growers, we are no strangers to the profound impact that climate change is having on our daily work. Rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events pose significant challenges to food production in. Small crofters and home growers, who are the backbone of local food systems, are particularly vulnerable. In this article, we will explore the current challenges, future prospects, and practical solutions for sustainable food production in the face of climate change, with a focus on organic and environmentally friendly practices.

Current Challenges
Erratic Weather Patterns: Unpredictable weather patterns can lead to crop failures, loss of productivity, and increased susceptibility to diseases. Home growers and small-scale farmers need to adapt by selecting resilient crop varieties and utilizing protective measures, such as row covers and greenhouses.
Water Scarcity: Changing rainfall patterns and increased evaporation due to higher temperatures are putting pressure on water resources. Rainwater harvesting, efficient irrigation techniques, and drought-resistant crops are essential for mitigating these challenges.
Pest and Disease Pressure: Rising temperatures can create favourable conditions for pests and diseases. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, companion planting, and using beneficial insects can help minimize the need for chemical interventions.
Soil Health: Climate change affects soil structure and composition. Regular soil testing and organic practices, like crop rotation and cover cropping, are critical for maintaining soil fertility.

Preparing for the Future
To address the challenges posed by climate change and secure our food supply, small crofters and home growers must embrace sustainable and adaptable practices:
Crop Diversity: Expand your crop selection to include heat-tolerant and drought-resistant varieties. Consider ancient grains like emmer (Triticum dicoccum) and einkorn (Triticum monococcum) that have proven to thrive in adverse conditions.
Vertical Gardening: Utilise vertical gardening techniques to maximize space and increase productivity, especially in smaller gardens. Grow vining crops like cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris).
Rainwater Harvesting: Install rain barrels or cisterns to capture and store rainwater for irrigation during drier periods.
Agroforestry: Incorporate fruit and nut trees into your landscape. Varieties like the hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta) and mulberry (Morus spp.) are excellent options for temperate climates.
Perennial Vegetables: Integrate perennial vegetables like asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) and rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) to reduce the need for annual replanting.

Exciting Crops for the Future
As we look ahead, there are numerous exciting crops that can be grown in Ireland, combining resilience and culinary appeal.  Some will be hardy outside, some might be tender and need protection but it is time to widen our horizons.

Here are a few from around the World:

The “Lost Crops of the Incas” refer to a group of ancient South American crops that were cultivated by the Inca civilization and other pre-Columbian cultures but largely disappeared from mainstream agriculture after the Spanish conquest. These crops, which have been rediscovered and are gaining popularity for their unique flavours, nutritional value, and adaptability to various climates, can make exciting additions to your garden.
• Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa): Although it’s no longer “lost” and has gained worldwide recognition, quinoa is a high-protein grain with a unique texture and nutty flavour. It’s well-suited for a small garden, and its adaptability to various growing conditions makes it an excellent choice.
• Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.): Amaranth is a versatile and resilient crop that can be grown for its leaves as a nutritious green or for its seeds, which are high in protein and can be used like a grain. It thrives in both small spaces and diverse climates.
• Oca (Oxalis tuberosa): Oca is a tuber crop with colourful, vitamin-rich tubers that can be grown in containers or small garden plots. It’s relatively easy to cultivate and adds visual interest to your garden.
• Maca (Lepidium meyenii): Maca is a root vegetable known for its adaptogenic properties and is often dried and ground into a powder. It’s suitable for small gardens, and you can grow it similarly to radishes or turnips.
• Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius): Yacon is a sweet-tasting root crop that can be grown in containers or in the ground. Its crisp and juicy tubers are versatile and can even be used in salads and desserts.
• Cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule): Cañihua is a close relative of quinoa, offering similarly nutritious seeds with a slightly different flavour. It’s adaptable to various climates and can be grown in small spaces.
• Chia (Salvia hispanica): Chia seeds, known for their nutritional value, can be cultivated in pots or small garden spaces. They’re versatile and can be used in various dishes.
• Kiwicha (Amaranthus caudatus): Kiwicha, also known as amaranth, produces striking red or gold seed heads that can be grown decoratively in small gardens. The leaves are edible as well.

The Americas:
• Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum): Tomatoes can be grown in Ireland, especially in greenhouses or under cloches, to extend the growing season and protect the plants from cooler temperatures.
• Chili Peppers (Capsicum spp.): Many chili pepper varieties can be grown in pots or containers, particularly during the warmer months.
• Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus): Jerusalem artichokes are hardy tubers that can thrive in UK and Irish gardens, producing knobby tubers with a nutty flavor.
• Corn (Zea mays): Sweetcorn varieties can be grown during the summer months, though they may not reach the same size as those grown in more favourable climates.
• Pumpkins and Winter Squash (Cucurbita spp.): Pumpkins and winter squash are suitable for UK and Irish gardens and can be used in soups, stews, and pies.
• Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon): Cranberries can be grown in acidic, well-drained soil, and they are often used in jams.
• Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.): Blueberries thrive in acidic soil and can be grown in containers or raised beds. They are well-suited to temperate climates.
• Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus): Sunflowers can be grown in UK and Irish gardens for their seeds, which can be roasted and eaten or used for oil.
• Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra): While not originally from the Americas, black walnut trees can be grown here and produce delicious nuts.
• Chestnuts (Castanea spp.): Chestnut trees can be grown here and produce edible chestnuts, which are used in various dishes and roasted as a snack.

South America:
• Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum): Potatoes are well-suited to temperate climates and have been successfully grown in Ireland for generations. Consider various potato varieties for different culinary uses.
• Aji Amarillo (Capsicum baccatum): Aji Amarillo is a Peruvian chili pepper with a unique flavor, and it can be grown Ireland with proper care.
• Pineapple (Ananas comosus): Growing a pineapple to full maturity outdoors Ireland is challenging, but you can start a pineapple plant indoors and enjoy the process.
• Cassava (Manihot esculenta): Cassava can be grown in pots or containers and brought indoors during the colder months.
• Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus): Jicama can be grown here as an annual, similar to growing turnips or radishes.
Central America:
• Maize (Zea mays): Corn, or maize, can be grown here during the summer months. Look for shorter-season varieties to ensure successful cultivation.
• Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris): Common beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, and pinto bean. Bush bean varieties are a good choice for small spaces.
• Tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica): Tomatillos can be grown Ireland with protection or in greenhouses to extend the growing season.
• Chayote (Sechium edule): Chayote, a vine-like vegetable, can be grown in pots or as a climber in Ireland.
• Achiote (Bixa orellana): Achiote, also known as annatto, is a small shrub whose seeds are used as a spice. It can be grown in greenhouses or as a container plant.
• Zapote (Manilkara zapota): The sapodilla tree, also known as zapote, can be grown in containers in a greenhouse or as a houseplant.
• Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus): Jicama can be grown here as an annual, like growing turnips or radishes.
• Avocado (Persea americana): While not a traditional crop Ireland, you can experiment with dwarf or cold-hardy avocado varieties in pots or greenhouses.
• Banana (Musa spp.): Cold-hardy banana varieties can be grown outdoors, or you can grow bananas in pots and bring them indoors during the winter.

• African Horned Cucumber (Cucumis metuliferus): Also known as kiwano or melon cucumber, this spiky fruit is not only visually striking but has a unique, mildly sweet flavour. It can be grown in a greenhouse or under cloches to provide protection from cooler temperatures.
• Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus): Okra is a heat-loving vegetable that can be grown during the warmer summer months. Choose early-maturing varieties to ensure a successful harvest.
• Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea batatas): While not originally from Africa, sweet potatoes are a staple in many African cuisines. They can be grown successfully here, but they require a longer growing season, so consider starting them indoors before transplanting to your garden.
• Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor): Sorghum is a hardy grain. It’s drought-resistant and can be used for various culinary purposes, such as flour for bread or porridge.
• African Eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum): African eggplants, also known as garden eggs, are small, round eggplants with a slightly bitter taste. They can grow with proper care and attention to warmth and light.
• Amaranth Leaves (Amaranthus spp.): The leaves of amaranth plants are a common ingredient in many African dishes. You can grow amaranth for its leaves in your garden, as it’s well-suited to temperate climates.
•Taro, (Colocasia esculenta), also called eddo or dasheen, has an edible rootlike corm. Can be grown in a pot and protected under cover in winter.
• Fonio (Digitaria exilis): Fonio is a nutritious grain that can be grown in Ireland as a warm-season crop. It has a short growing period and is well-suited for small gardens.
• Bitter Leaf (Vernonia amygdalina): Bitter leaf is a leafy green used in many African dishes. It can be grown in temperate climates but may require some protection during colder months.
• Moringa (Moringa oleifera): Moringa trees are known for their highly nutritious leaves, which are used in a variety of African dishes. In Ireland, you can grow moringa as an annual and harvest the leaves throughout the growing season.

Nordic Crops:
• Swedish Turnip (Rutabaga): Rutabagas are cold-hardy root vegetables, and they can be grown, especially during the cooler months.
• Red and Black Currants (Röda och Svarta Vinbär): Currants are well-suited to cooler climates and can thrive Ireland. They are used in various dishes, desserts, and jams.
• Lingonberries (Lingon): Lingonberries are popular in Nordic countries and can be cultivated in acidic, well-drained soil. They are ideal for small garden spaces.
• Cloudberries (Hjortron): Cloudberries are a sought-after Nordic delicacy. While they are challenging to cultivate, some enthusiasts in Ireland have successfully grown them in acidic, boggy soils.
• Nordic Berries (Sea Buckthorn, Rowan, Bilberries, and Crowberries): These native berries are well-suited to Ireland’s conditions and can be grown in gardens. They are used in various culinary applications and are rich in antioxidants.
• Potatoes: Varieties like “Kerrs Pink” and “Maris Piper” are well-suited to our climate and can be grown successfully.
• Barley (Korn): Barley is a versatile grain that is easy to grow here. It’s used for making malts for brewing and as a staple in soups and stews.
• Hardy Greens (Nordic Lettuce and Mustard Greens): Many Nordic lettuce and mustard green varieties are well-suited to cooler climates and can be grown throughout the growing season.
• Swedish Oats (Havre): Oats are an excellent cool-season crop, and some Nordic oat varieties can thrive inIreland.
• Wild Mushrooms (Chanterelles, Porcini, Morels): If you have suitable woodlands or forested areas nearby, you may find wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini, and morels, which are prized in Nordic cuisine.
• Leeks (Purjolök): Leeks are hardy and can withstand our cooler temperatures. They are used in various dishes, including soups and stews.
• Fruit Trees (Apple, Pear, Plum): Many apple, pear, and plum varieties thrive in temperate climates and are commonly grown in both Nordic countries.

The Steppe:
• Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): Buckwheat is a versatile grain that can thrive in Ireland’s climate. It’s used in a variety of dishes, including pancakes and porridge.
• Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum): While rhubarb isn’t originally from the steppe, it’s widely cultivated in the region. It’s a popular ingredient in desserts and jams.
• Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana): Horseradish is a hardy, perennial root vegetable that can be grown in your garden. It’s known for its pungent flavour nd is used as a condiment.
• Russian Blue Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum ‘Russian Blue’): This potato variety, which originated in Eastern Europe, is suitable for cool climates and has striking blue flesh.
• Wild Edible Plants (e.g., Stinging Nettle and Wild Garlic): Many wild plants commonly found in the steppe, such as stinging nettle and wild garlic, can be foraged or cultivated here. They are used in soups, teas, and various dishes.
• Chicory (Cichorium intybus): Chicory is a leafy green that is popular in Eastern European salads and can be grown in temperate climates.
• Caraway (Carum carvi): Caraway seeds are used as a spice in various dishes and bread in Eastern European cuisine. You can grow the plant in your garden for the seeds.
• Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops are grown for brewing, and certain hop varieties can be successfully cultivated here.
• Wild Berries (e.g., Bilberries and Lingonberries): Some wild berries found in the steppe, such as bilberries and lingonberries, can be grown in acidic, well-drained soil in your garden.
• Wild Game (e.g., Rabbit and Venison): While not crops, wild game like rabbit and venison is commonly consumed in steppe regions. Consider raising rabbits for meat or source wild game from sustainable practices if available.
• Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata): Cabbage is a staple in Eastern European cuisine and can be grown in your garden for making sauerkraut and other dishes.
• Rye (Secale cereale): Rye is a cool-season cereal grain suitable for Ireland, often used in breadmaking.
• Lentils (Lens culinaris): Lentils are a pulse crop that can be grown in here, providing a source of protein and fiber.
• Cherries (Prunus spp.): Certain cherry varieties are successfully cultivated and grown here.

• Napa Cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis): Napa cabbage, commonly used in Asian cuisine, can be grown successfully in Ireland. It’s a cool-season crop and is suitable for spring and autumn planting.
• Daikon Radish (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus): Daikon radishes, with their mild and crisp texture, can be grown. They prefer cooler weather and are ideal for autumn cultivation.
• Choy Sum (Brassica rapa var. parachinensis): Choy sum, or Chinese flowering cabbage, is a quick-growing leafy green that is perfect for our climate, especially during the cooler months.
• Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): Lemongrass can be grown in containers or pots. While it may not reach the same size as in its native tropical climate, it can still provide the distinct lemony flavour for your dishes.
• Shiso (Perilla frutescens): Shiso, also known as perilla, is a flavourful herb used in Japanese and Korean cuisine. It can be grown in pots and is well-suited to temperate climates.
• Ginger (Zingiber officinale): While ginger is originally from tropical regions, you can successfully grow it in pots or containers in Ireland. Bring it indoors during colder months.
• Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Like ginger, turmeric can be grown in containers and brought indoors when temperatures drop. Fresh turmeric adds a distinct flavour and colour to dishes.
• Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora): Thai basil has a unique flavour and is perfect for growing in pots. It’s a key ingredient in many Thai dishes.
• Thai Peppers (Capsicum annuum var. ‘Bird’s Eye’): Thai peppers are spicy and add heat to Asian dishes. You can grow them in pots or in the garden during the warmer months.
• Chinese Five-Spice Plant (Schisandra chinensis): The Chinese five-spice plant produces small, aromatic berries used in traditional Chinese medicine and culinary applications. It can be grown as a woody vine in temperate climates.
• Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba): Jujube trees produce sweet, date-like fruits. They can be grown in Ireland, especially in milder regions.

Japan and China:
• Japanese Greens (Mizuna, Komatsuna, and Shungiku): These leafy greens are used in salads and stir-fries and can thrive in temperate climates.
• Wasabi (Wasabia japonica): Wasabi can be cultivated in cool, well-drained conditions, making it a unique addition to your garden.
• Japanese Ginger (Myoga): Myoga is a Japanese ginger with a unique flavour. It can be grown in containers or in sheltered garden areas.
• Edamame (Glycine max): Edamame soybeans can be grown here, particularly in warmer months.
• Bamboo Shoots (Phyllostachys edulis): Some bamboo species, like Phyllostachys edulis, produce edible shoots that can be grown in your garden.
• Japanese Plum (Ume): Ume trees can be grown, producing small Japanese plums that are used for making umeboshi pickles and plum wine.
• Japanese Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius): This fruiting bramble is hardy in Ireland and produces sweet, raspberry-like berries.
• Japanese Mustard Spinach (Gyōna): Gyōna is a Japanese leafy green that can be grown in temperate climates and used in various dishes.
• Yuzu (Citrus junos): Yuzu trees can be grown in pots or sheltered areas, providing aromatic citrus fruits.
• Sansho (Zanthoxylum piperitum): Sansho, a fragrant Japanese spice, can be cultivated in the UK and Ireland for its berries and leaves.
• Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki): Some persimmon varieties are well-suited to temperate climates and can be grown here.
• Nagaimo (Dioscorea opposita): Nagaimo, a type of yam, can be grown in pots or containers.
• Chinese Greens (Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, and Gai Lan): These leafy greens are used in stir-fries and can thrive in temperate climates.
• Chinese Long Beans (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis): These are heat-loving, but they can be cultivated here in warmer months.
• Chinese Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum): Garlic chives are happy growing here and are used in various dishes.
• Chinese Black Soybeans (Glycine max): Black soybeans can be grown, particularly in warmer months.
• Chinese Peppers (Sichuan, Shishito, and Bird’s Eye): Various Chinese pepper varieties can be grown in pots or containers during the warmer months.
• Chinese Bayberry (Myrica rubra): Bayberry trees can be grown in Ireland, producing small, sweet berries.
• Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida): Hawthorn trees can be cultivated here, and their fruits are used in Chinese snacks and desserts.
• Chinese Citrus (Kumquat, Calamondin, Yuzu): Various Chinese citrus fruits can be grown in pots or sheltered areas, providing aromatic and tangy flavors.
• Chinese Water Chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis): Water chestnuts can be grown in containers in the UK and Ireland, and they are used in a variety of Chinese dishes.

European crops:
• Artichokes (Cynara scolymus): Globe artichokes are a gourmet vegetable that can be grown successfully in Ireland. They require well-drained soil and a sheltered spot.
• Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa): Some kiwi varieties, particularly hardy kiwis, can be grown here with proper care and protection from frost.
• Figs (Ficus carica): Figs are becoming more popular in Ireland. You can grow them in a sunny, sheltered area or in pots.
• Grapes (Vitis vinifera): While Irish winemaking is still emerging, you can grow grapevines for fresh eating or making your wine in a sunny spot.
• Aubergines (Eggplants) (Solanum melongena): Aubergines can be grown in the greenhouse or under cloches to extend the growing season in Ireland.
• Olives (Olea europaea): Olive trees can be cultivated in large containers and kept in a greenhouse or against a sunny, sheltered wall.
• Medlar (Mespilus germanica): Medlar trees produce unique fruit that can be grown in Ireland with proper care.
• Pomegranate (Punica granatum): In a greenhouse or sunny, sheltered area, pomegranate trees can be grown, although they may not produce fruit every year.
• Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum): Goji berry plants are hardy and can be grown in the garden for their nutritious berries.
• Pawpaw (Asimina triloba): The pawpaw tree can be grown in Ireland with protection from harsh winds and frost.
• Tea (Camellia sinensis): You can grow your tea plant in a container and enjoy homegrown tea leaves.
• Chayote (Sechium edule): Chayote is a vine-like vegetable that can be grown in pots or as a climber in Ireland.

Your Ornamental Garden:
• Edible Flowers: Edible flowers like nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.), pansies (Viola spp.), and calendula (Calendula officinalis) not only add visual appeal to your garden but can be used to garnish salads and desserts.
• Microgreens: Microgreens, such as arugula (Eruca sativa), radish (Raphanus sativus), and basil (Ocimum basilicum), can be grown in small containers or window boxes and provide a quick harvest of tender and flavorful greens.
• Dwarf Fruit Trees: Compact or dwarf varieties of fruit trees, like miniature apple (Malus domestica) or pear (Pyrus spp.) trees, can be grown in pots or small spaces, offering both ornamental beauty and a bountiful harvest.
• Mushrooms: You can grow gourmet mushrooms like oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) or shiitake (Lentinula edodes) in shaded areas or on logs, making efficient use of limited garden space.
• Climbing Vegetables: Grow climbing vegetables like cucamelons (Melothria scabra) and mini pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) on trellises or arches to maximize vertical space.
• Strawberries: Compact varieties of strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) or alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) can be grown in containers or hanging baskets, adding both beauty and a sweet treat to your garden.
• Chard (Beta vulgaris): Swiss chard is a stunning leafy green with colorful stalks that can be grown in ornamental borders and is both decorative and delicious.
• Lavender (Lavandula spp.): This aromatic herb is perfect for garden edges and has culinary uses in addition to its pleasing fragrance.
• Ground Cover Herbs: Consider ground cover herbs like creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) and creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’). They add an attractive low carpet of greenery and can be used in cooking.
• Aromatic Plants: Incorporate aromatic plants like lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and mint (Mentha spp.) into your garden to provide fragrant leaves for teas and culinary uses.

Climate change poses a significant threat to food security in Ireland, but small crofters and home growers can adapt and thrive by adopting organic and sustainable practices. By diversifying crops, maximizing available resources, and embracing resilient varieties, we can build a more robust and sustainable food system for the future. These changes not only enhance food security but also contribute to a more resilient and ecologically sound agricultural landscape. Together, we can meet the challenges of climate change and ensure a sustainable food supply for generations to come.

Crainn na hÉireann – an exhibition by the Irish Society of Botanical Artists

Press Release: For immediate release

Crainn na hÉireann – an exhibition by the Irish Society of Botanical Artists

On the October bank holiday, the Irish Society of Botanical Artists will celebrate Ireland’s twenty-two native trees with an exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.

The Society launched the project in 2022, inviting their members to illustrate native trees and their botanical details. Over the past two years, the painters have gathered botanical information and scoured the countryside for examples of these native species in all seasons. They have produced a set of paintings for each tree, enlarging the smallest of details and providing a record for identification and appreciation for the wider public. Crainn na hÉireann – Ireland’s Native Trees highlights the sometimes tiny, and very beautiful buds, flowers, seeds, and leaves, which in the ordinary course of our observations, we may miss or take for granted. The ‘Winter’ painting in each series shows a portrait of the tree and shows the bark in detail, to give a comprehensive and aesthetically beautiful record of each tree.

With over sixty paintings, this exhibition is sure to captivate and engross visitors to the National Botanic Gardens. We hope to excite interest in and appreciation of our native species, as we have in previous a exhibition, Éireannach – Irish Native Plants. At a time when biodiversity and climate change are watchwords for environmental concerns, our native plants are key to preserving our landscape and our wildlife. In focusing on the tiny details of familiar trees, this project will, we hope, encourage the public to look closely and appreciate anew the wonder of nature, and how fortunate we all are to have such diverse and fascinating native flora. In doing so, a sense of ownership and responsibility for its preservation is sure to follow.

The Irish Society of Botanical Artists is an island-wide group of botanical artists and friends, dedicated to the practice and promotion of botanical art and illustration, and to the preservation of Ireland’s botanical heritage. We are indebted to the National Botanic Gardens and the OPW for their support and hospitality.

The exhibition opening is by invitation on Saturday 28th of October in the Visitor Centre at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, with an introduction by Éanna ní Lamhna, Irish biologist, environmentalist, author, & presenter. The exhibition will be open to the public from Sunday 29th of October until Sunday 12th of November. Entry is free and ISBA books, including the publication for this exhibition, will be on sale in the gallery.

Exploring the World of Plants with Seeds

In the vast and diverse plant kingdom, we encounter a fascinating division between seed-producing and non-seed producing plants. The latter includes lichens (thallophyta), mosses (bryophyta), and ferns (pteridophytes). On the flip side, we find two prominent groups among the seed producers: gymnosperms (conifers) and angiosperms (flowering plants).

Gymnosperms: The Ancient Conifers

Gymnosperms, which have been around for approximately 200 million years, encompass cone-bearing plants like conifers and yew trees. These hardy, ancient giants are known for their unenclosed seeds, a distinctive feature that sets them apart from their angiosperm counterparts.

Angiosperms: The Flowering Plants

Angiosperms, the more recent arrivals on the botanical scene, encompass all flowering plants. This includes a wide array of greenery, from grasses and herbs to the fruits and vegetables we cultivate in our gardens. These plants produce seeds enclosed within fruits and flowers, creating a dazzling spectacle of colors and forms.

Angiosperms: Monocots and Dicots

Angiosperms can be further categorized into two main groups: monocots and dicots.

Monocots: Monocots encompass plants like grasses and bulbs. They are especially relevant for food growers because they include staple crops like wheat, oats, sweetcorn, asparagus, onions, and leeks.

Dicots: Nearly all other plants in your garden fall into the dicot group. This division is important because it affects the way these plants grow and develop.

The most distinguishing feature between monocots and dicots lies in the number of cotyledons, which are the seed’s embryonic leaves. Monocots have one cotyledon, while dicots have two.

Seed Anatomy: Unlocking the Potential for Growth

At the heart of seed germination lies the intricate structure of a seed. It comprises an embryonic root, shoot, and leaves, all connected to a food store within the seed. Cotyledons, the “seed leaves,” serve as both the food source and the mechanism for nutrient transfer from the seed’s endosperm to the growing shoot. In some seeds, such as peas and broad beans, cotyledons serve as both the food source and the transfer mechanism for growth.

The amount of energy stored within a seed, and consequently the growth it can support, depends on the seed’s size. This is why it’s crucial to plant seeds at the correct depth. If a small seed is sown too deep, it might not have enough stored energy to grow the shoot above the soil level. Sowing depth plays a significant role in the germination of very small seeds, like carrots, and careful attention to this detail can ensure a successful outcome.

Factors Affecting Seed Germination: Moisture, Oxygen, and Temperature

Seed germination hinges on several factors, including moisture, oxygen, and temperature.

Moisture and Oxygen: Seeds have a moisture content ranging from 4% to 12% when they come from a seed pack. Planting them in dampened compost increases their moisture content to between 25% and 50%. This extra moisture initiates enzymes in the seed that digest the stored food, providing energy for the embryo’s growth. However, efficient digestion requires oxygen, and excessively wet compost can hinder the process.

Moisture and Dormancy: Some seeds, particularly those from woody species, have natural dormancy mechanisms that moisture alone can’t break. This isn’t a concern for most vegetable growers, but it does apply to woody herbs like rosemary, which can be challenging to germinate. To overcome dormancy, a process called ‘Cold Stratification’ is used, involving refrigerating seeds for about 12 weeks in damp conditions.

Temperature: While most seeds don’t require light to germinate, temperature plays a crucial role. A minimum temperature of approximately 5°C is required for germination, with an optimum range of 25 to 30°C. For cool climate crops, like those grown in Ireland and the UK, 18°C is recommended, while warm climate crops should be at 20 to 25°C. This temperature-light relationship can lead to issues like leggy seedlings when the balance isn’t maintained.

Light-Sensitive Germination

While most vegetable seeds don’t rely on light to germinate, some, like lettuce, celery, and celeriac, require light to trigger their germination. These seeds should either be lightly covered with fine compost or left uncovered. This light-sensitive adaptation in lettuce seeds can be traced back to their ancestors, which colonized disturbed ground, taking advantage of sunlight when trees fell in forests, disrupting the forest floor. This adaptation is a double-edged sword, as it applies to many garden weeds as well.

Photoreceptors and Timekeeping

The mechanism by which plants measure day length and determine the timing of events like leaf shedding and flowering is called photoperiodism. Photoreceptors, specifically phytochromes, play a crucial role in this process. These photoreceptors switch between Pr (phytochrome red) and Pfr (phytochrome far red) states in response to red and far red light.

In full sunlight, red light is abundant, whereas in the shade, it’s filtered out, leaving primarily far red wavelengths. Therefore, when seeds and trees are exposed to strong red light, they perceive it as sunshine, while far red light signifies shade. This ability to perceive light conditions helps seeds germinate in the most favorable conditions, utilizing the sun’s energy for growth.

How Trees Measure Time

Trees use this phytochrome-switching mechanism to measure day length (hours of darkness), which helps them decide when to shed their leaves. During daylight, Pr switches to Pfr. In darkness, Pfr slowly reverts to Pr at a fixed rate. Longer nights lead to more Pfr at sunrise, signaling the approach of winter and prompting leaf fall.

This same phytochrome system controls flowering, bud setting, and vegetative growth in most plants, including many of the vegetables we grow. For example, certain vegetables like spinach and Asian salads bolt or go to seed in summer but remain steady in spring or autumn. This is because they are “long-day” plants programmed to flower in summer. Adjusting your planting times or choosing bolt-resistant varieties can help you work with these natural patterns.

The fascinating relationship between light, phytochromes, and hormonal action in plants highlights the intricate, precise mechanisms governing their growth and development, making the world of botany endlessly intriguing.

Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers

A Burst of Colour and Fragrance for Spring

As we embrace the beauty of autumn, it’s time to think ahead to the vibrant colours and fragrant blooms that spring will bring. One fantastic way to ensure your spring garden is nothing short of spectacular is by planting spring bulbs in containers. Bulbs are uniquely adaptive, and they thrive just as happily in a container as they do in a garden border. So, let’s dive into the world of container planting for a sensational spring display!

Why Plant Spring Bulbs in Containers?

Container planting of spring bulbs has numerous advantages. It infuses life and vibrant scents into your outdoor spaces during a season when little else is in bloom. Even if you have limited gardening space, there’s always room to squeeze in some containers, adorning your patio, porch, or any area you frequent during spring. Autumn is the best time to embark on this rewarding journey, and you’ll be profusely thanking yourself come spring.

Choosing a Suitable Container

The first step in planting spring bulbs in containers is to select the perfect vessel. Your choice of container style can greatly impact the overall aesthetic of your garden. Most garden centres offer a variety of options, including Wicker Pots, Terracotta/Clay Pots, and eco-friendly Pots. Choose a style that resonates with your personal taste and garden design.

However, irrespective of your choice, ensure that your container has adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Bulbs can quickly rot if they sit in waterlogged soil, and proper drainage is crucial for their health and vitality.

Also, consider the size and shape of the pot. If you have limited space, measure the area to ensure your pot fits perfectly. For exposed areas prone to wind, select pots that are less likely to topple over. Remember, your choice of container will be a part of your garden for years to come, so choose wisely and with love.

How to Plant Spring Bulbs in Containers

Prepare the Container: Start by placing a layer of stones or pot shards at the bottom of the pot to aid drainage and protect it from becoming waterlogged.

Add Compost: Fill the pot halfway with a high-quality, multi-purpose compost. Break up any lumps to ensure a consistent growing medium.

Plant the Bulbs: Plant the bulbs in a manner like how you would in the ground. Larger bulbs like daffodils and tulips should be planted about 6 to 7 inches deep, while smaller bulbs like crocus can go 4 to 5 inches deep. Ensure that the pointed side of the bulb faces upwards, and the rounded side faces downwards. You can place the bulbs closely together, with about 2 inches of space between them. Densely planted bulbs create a more impressive display.

Finish Planting: Add more compost until the pot is nearly filled.

Water Thoroughly: Water the pot well after planting. Ensure that excess water can drain out, preventing waterlogging.

As the weather warms, you’ll notice green shoots emerging, promising a magnificent display of spring flowers. To keep your containers colourful throughout winter, consider planting some pansies or cyclamen on top. This will ensure your pots are not only a delightful sight but also an early harbinger of spring, full of life and fragrance.

Container planting of spring bulbs is an easy and rewarding way to enhance your outdoor spaces. Whether you have a sprawling garden or just a small patio, there’s always room for these bursts of springtime beauty. So, seize the opportunity this autumn and make your spring garden a true masterpiece. Happy gardening!

Spring Bulbs: Guide to Planting and Care

When it comes to planting spring bulbs in Ireland, you have a wide range of options that can brighten up your garden. Spring bulbs thrive in our temperate climate, and they are easy to plant and care for. Here are some popular choices, along with planting instructions, expected bloom times, and potential issues to watch out for.

1. Daffodils (Narcissus)

• Planting Time: Daffodil bulbs should be planted in early to mid-autumn (September to early November).
• Planting Depth: Plant daffodils about 6 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upwards.
• Bloom Time: Daffodils typically bloom in late winter to early spring (February to April).
• Potential Issues: Daffodils are generally low maintenance. Just be cautious when planting them near other plants, as their bulbs contain toxic alkaloids that can harm neighbouring vegetation.

2. Tulips (Tulipa)

• Planting Time: Tulip bulbs are best planted in late autumn (October to early December).
• Planting Depth: Plant tulips about 6-8 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up.
• Bloom Time: Tulips bring a burst of colour in late spring (April to May).
• Potential Issues: Squirrels can be a common problem, as they may dig up the bulbs. Consider placing wire mesh or chicken wire over the planting area to deter them.

3. Crocuses (Crocus)

• Planting Time: Plant crocus bulbs in early autumn (September to October).
• Planting Depth: Plant them about 3-4 inches deep with the pointed end upwards.
• Bloom Time: Crocuses are among the earliest bloomers, brightening up your garden from late winter to early spring (February to March).
• Potential Issues: Slugs and snails are attracted to crocuses, so consider using natural slug deterrents or set up physical barriers to protect your bulbs.

4. Hyacinths (Hyacinthus)

• Planting Time: Hyacinth bulbs are best planted in autumn (October to November).
• Planting Depth: Plant them about 4-6 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upwards.
• Bloom Time: Hyacinths perfume your garden with their fragrant blossoms in early to mid-spring (March to April).
• Potential Issues: Hyacinths are susceptible to bulb rot if the soil is overly damp. Ensure good drainage to prevent this issue.

5. Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

• Planting Time: Plant bluebell bulbs in autumn (October to November).
• Planting Depth: Place them about 3-4 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upwards.
• Bloom Time: Bluebells carpet woodlands and gardens with their lovely blue hues in late spring (May).
• Potential Issues: Bluebells can become invasive, spreading rapidly. Plant them where they can naturalize without overcrowding other plants.

To ensure successful growth of your spring bulbs in Ireland, make sure to choose a well-drained location with plenty of sunlight. Bulbs typically need good soil enriched with organic matter. Water your bulbs moderately after planting, and then sparingly while they’re actively growing. Once they’ve bloomed, allow the foliage to die back naturally to feed the bulbs for the next year.

With these beautiful spring bulbs, you’ll be rewarded with a vibrant, colourful garden, even in the Irish climate. Enjoy the anticipation and the breathtaking beauty they bring to your outdoor space!

Southern Symposium VIII

Southern Symposium VIII at Kells Bay Garden in Co Kerry was an unforgettable gathering of plant enthusiasts and experts, orchestrated by none other than Chelsea Gold winner Billy Alexander. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Dingle Bay, this weekend symposium was a true celebration of the botanical wonders.

The event began with a remarkable tribute to Irish tree guru Thomas Pakenham on the occasion of his 90th birthday, where a Redwood, Sequoia Sempervirens, was planted by the legendary Irish dendrologist himself. Séamus O’Brien, representing the IDS, presented this symbolic tree to Kells Bay, honouring Thomas Pakenham’s lifelong commitment to Irish Trees.

Throughout the whirlwind weekend, attendees were treated to an exhilarating array of talks and explorations by a lineup of distinguished speakers, including Daniel Hinkley, Ken Cox, Bleddyn Wynn-Jones, and Jack Aldridge. The setting couldn’t have been more inspiring, surrounded by the horticulture treasures that adorn Kells Bay Gardens.

Highlights from the symposium included Neil Porteous’s guided stroll through the gardens, the formal opening of the ‘Plant Centre’ by Dan Hinkley, and an unforgettable moment when Thomas Pakenham planted the giant Sequoia sempervirens. Jack Aldridge’s presentation at the marquee after supper added to the weekend’s charm.

Saturday morning took us on an enthralling journey to the mountains of Colombia with Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones, followed by Ken Cox’s riveting tales of Rhododendron adventures in China. Dan Hinkley’s talk, while rooted in his own garden at Windcliff, transported us to distant horticultural wonders.

Sunday brought us to Van Diemen’s Land with Séamus O’Brien, where we braved leeches in our quest for Banksia near the walls of Jerusalem. Dan Hinkley then guided us to the top of Phan Xi Păng, revealing the plant treasures of Vietnam in their native habitats and at his home in Washington State.

Beyond the wealth of knowledge and insights gained, Southern Symposium VIII was a weekend of friendship, fun, and an abundance of plants. It’s a heartfelt thank you to everyone contributed to this remarkable occasion. The symposium left us not only enriched with knowledge but also with a deeper appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the plant world.  Photographs with thanks to Billy Alexander

RHSI Tour to Wales 2023

The recent RHSI coach tour to Wales was a delightful journey through some of it’s most enchanting horticultural wonders. Led by Peter Harrison, the trip was a resounding success. The tour included visits to remarkable gardens such as RHS Bridgewater, a stunning blend of history and world-class horticulture designed by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith. Bodnant Garden, with its century-and-a-half-old history and breathtaking backdrop of the Carneddau mountains, provided a sensory delight. Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, a historic garden under meticulous restoration, showcased the beauty of Anglesey.  Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery in Cheshire offered a tranquil respite amidst natural beauty and delicious cakes. Thanks to the meticulous planning and organization of Peter Harrison and the events team, this journey was a true celebration of superb gardens



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

Website development: Neal Walsh Web Solutions