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 Kellsgarden.ie
Website development: Neal Walsh Web Solutions