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‘In the Footsteps of Joseph Hooker, An Expedition to the Himalaya
On Thursday, 23rd October Seamus O’Brien, Curator of the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh, came up north to give us a most interesting lecture ‘In the Footsteps of Joseph Hooker, An Expedition to the Himalaya‘. It was an excellent talk and attracted an attendance of over 100 people at the Old Courthouse in Antrim.

 Earlier in the afternoon we had a guided tour around the beautiful Antrim Castle gardens and were joined by Neil Porteous, Head Gardener at Mount Stewart who had travelled with Seamus to the Himalaya last year. Several committee members also attended and we had a very pleasant day walking around the gardens.


Left - right: Yvonne Penpraze, Neil Porteous (Head Gardener of Mount Stewart), Barbara Kelso, Seamus O'Brien (Curator of the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh), Billy McCone and Maeve Bell

Left – right: Yvonne Penpraze, Neil Porteous (Head Gardener of Mount Stewart), Barbara Kelso, Seamus O’Brien (Curator of the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh), Billy McCone and Maeve Bell


As the hall was filling for the talk - part of the large attendance for the event.

As the hall was filling for the talk – part of the large attendance for the event.

The parterre at Antrim Castle Gardens

The parterre at Antrim Castle Gardens

Admiring the Clotworthy coat of arms

Admiring the Clotworthy coat of arms

Seamus O Brien and Neil Porteous

Seamus O Brien and Neil Porteous

The ruins of the original Antrim Castle

The ruins of the original Antrim Castle

Report and photographs from Barbara Kelso.

Naomi Slade has extensive writing experience, many years with Gardening Which – and won three silver-gilt medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in the Science and Education Section while with them. She has also written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The English Garden and The Garden.  I mention this background because it adds to my enjoyment of a book when the author can actually write well.  Perhaps, it’s an old-age thing or I am just getting grumpier as the years go on but I do enjoy a book more when it is well written. With a degree in biology and a keen interest in gardening and snowdrops in particular it is fair to say the lady knows what she is talking about and communicates this very well.

She begins the book by telling us why she is interested in snowdrops but such an interest needs no explanation as such beautiful plants could not but be admired!

The first section of the book, “Designing with the Milk Flower” sets the tone of the book – the author is more interested in snowdrops as a garden plant than as a collection of individuals and suggests snowdrops which will best give an effect in the garden. She discusses the conditions and locations which best suit snowdrops – woodland, under trees and shrubs – and their use as groundcover, in the rock garden and in containers and there is an extensive discussion on companion plants for snowdrops.

`The section “Understanding Snowdrops” covers the general morphology of snowdrops, their taxonomy, origin, trade and conservation followed by a run through the history of our interest in snowdrops, mentioning significant personalities and cultivars along the way.

“A Spotter’s Guide” illustrates, describes and gives the stories of approximately 60 snowdrops, an excellent selection which would do well in most gardens and fitting in with the author’s approach of selecting snowdrops for garden impact rather than for rarity. Though this may seem a small number to the enthusiast it should be mentioned that many other snowdrops are mentioned throughout other sections of the book.

“Growing and Propagating” covers all the practicalities of growing snowdrops comprehensively with attention to selecting and preparing a site, lifting and dividing, propagation and a section on pests and diseases.

“Where to See Snowdrops: Out and About”  lists gardens in Belgium, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States and Wales as well as listing snowdrops events and a list of places to buy snowdrops.

Scattered through the book is a series of interviews with snowdrops personalities. These are interesting but I generally don’t like this arrangement as I find it interrupts my reading of the main text. However, they are interesting and worthwhile.

The experts might wish for a more comprehensive book but I think all others with an interest in snowdrops will find this an excellent book.

Published by Timber Press In association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and priced at £17.99 – very good value!



IGPS Leinster Plant Sale. 
The IGPS Leinster Plant Sale is one of the big events of the IGPS calendar which attracts both IGPS members and keen gardeners in large numbers each year as there is always a fabulous selection of plants available, plants not often found for sale in retail outlets in the country and those special treasures, our Irish heritage plants.
The sale was held in the Trinity College Botanic Gardens in Dartry in south Dublin, a pleasant garden setting, and this year blessed by being a day of beautiful sunshine and, as a result, general cheer. There is a group of people in the Leinster branch of the IGPS who devote considerable time to this plant sale as, and you well know, plants take time to grow from propagation to a size suitable for passing along. Each year this group of people prepare plants, bring them along on the day and sell them on to members and other enthusiasts. There is also a group who come along and do the essential work of the day – serve teas and refreshments, set up the stalls, man the stalls and sell the plants, chat with visitors and give advice on growing and caring for plants being taken away. It is a social occasion, a day to acquire treasures and I was delighted to hear from friends and see them report on social media of their new treasures for their gardens.
Many thanks to Stephen Butler and Patrick Ardiff for the photographs they posted on the IGPS Facebook page. I have “borrowed” them to use them again here and hope you enjoy the peep they give you into a wonderful day.
If you haven’t been to the plant sale this year, mark your diary and come along next year. In the meantime, have a look at the “Upcoming Events” section and come along and join us for our winter talks.
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The Atlantic Coast of Ireland – Photography by Jonathan Hession. Text by John Grenham

It was the photography of Jonathan Hession which attracted me to this book but on reading it I was delighted by the text of John Grenham.

The photographs and text cover the west coast of Ireland, the Atlantic coast, from Donegal in the north-west to Cork in the south-west, illustrating the terrain of mountains, sea and seashore with John Grenham’s text giving wonderful historical background as well as insightful comment on the present day.

The Atlantic coast of Ireland is a place of extraordinary beauty and a place which is simply awe-inspiring. A paragraph in the introduction sums it up so very well, “All landscapes reflect and embody the natural and human powers that created them. If you want to experience the historical depth of the natural processes of geology and weather, to feel the sheer scale of the unending change they generate, this shoreline is one of the best places on the planet to do it. Th effects of deep time echo here as vividly as possible, in storm-clouds and waves, in mountain-peaks and limestone caves. “

A caption of a photograph of The Twelve Pins in Connemara, “This range offers wonderful views of Connemara on the occasional clear day” echoes a feeling I had while I read the book that it was a pity the sun didn’t shine more often in the photographs.  It reminds me of a comment of a work colleague who, when I remarked she must have wonderful views from her new home overlooking the Co. Waterford coastline, told me that it was beautiful in summer but that in winter she looked out her window each day and saw grey. Many of the photographs are muted but, I suppose, many days on the west coast are “soft days”.

IGPS Munster Group visit Blarney Castle – 27th September 2014
[Click on the photo for a larger view and click on the return arrow - top left - to come back to this page]
 What a lovely day we had at Blarney Castle Gardens yesterday. The gardens are looking beautiful right now with lots of contrasting autumn colour beginning to put on a display. There was a great turn out and the weather couldn’t have been more summer-like.  We even got to see new parts of the garden that aren’t open to the public yet. Huge thanks and well done again to Head Gardener, and IGPS Munster Secretary, Adam Whitbourn, for such an informative tour, and the outstanding metamorphosis he continues to lead the Castle Gardens through.
Bruno Nicolai
If you would like to view an album of photographs from our visit, just click here “Blarney Castle Gardens”

IGPS Northern Group Garden Visit to Adrian Walsh’s Garden at Stranmillis, Belfast on September 3rd

A report from Jenny Constable.

There was a very good turnout of members and guests for our visit to Adrian’s garden.  Around forty of us met on a beautiful balmy September evening.

Adrian’s property is a red brick house in an established, quiet leafy area of Belfast.  When we entered the property we could see a well tended garden and driveway, a calm and uncluttered space.  The walk to the rear of the property has a border on the boundary with many interesting specimens, the beautiful new Salvia  ‘Amistad’ caught the eye immediately.  Lovely Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ was also looking very happy in the shade of an established Crinodendron

The space to the rear of the house is a flat and not especially big but is so well designed and planted as to give a good three dimensional effect.  Square and rectangular beds have been set out at right angles and are divided by closely mown grass pathways, a layout which allows the planting to have maximum effect.  The garden had several well-chosen trees planted as specimens.  Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ , planted just off centre in its bed, took the eye with a carpet of Colchicum underneath to complement the white bark and a lovely Cercidophyllum japonicam, just taking on its autumn colour, showed up well against the lovely blue early evening sky.


The many grasses in this area are complimented by plants with purple foliage or flowers, hydrangeas and eupatorium among them. Several bright red dahlias along with the red-flowered Schizostylus major added some splashes of colour while a double-flowered white Anemone japonica added a bright touch to the autumn colours.

Everyone seemed to be drawn to the unusual planting in a large oblong container where Stipa ‘ Pony Tails’, Rudbeckia and Verbena bonariensis made an effective Autumn combination.  Another  feature of this interesting garden is a lovely carved stone which looks centuries old but  Adrian explained that it is a piece of sandstone carved by a local artist, the design copied  from one of the stones  at Bow island in Fermanagh.


Adrian spent time with everyone talking about his design and the planting. He explained that he was a winner of BBC gardener of the year in 2001 and, judging by his current garden, he was a worthy winner. We are privileged to have had the opportunity to share Adrian’s garden and to learn so much about planting and the use of colour in within a limited space.



Text by Jenny Constable and photographs by Adrian Walsh – the garden owner, September 2014

You can see more of Adrian’s garden at: Belfast Garden on Facebook


Look further down the page for our feature on Victor and Ros Henry’s garden: “IGPS Members’ Garden is Blooming Marvellous”
Victor & Roz Henry's Coffee Morning
Are you interested in Gardening Classes? Check out this programme from TCD.
Worth a Read?

Fiann O Nualláin’s book, “The Holistic Gardener”, gives a list of first aid treatments which we can make from the plants in our gardens and other to-hand materials.  There are the usual suggestions for nettle burns and wasp stings along with suggestions for potions for relaxation and general wellbeing with some recipes to tempt our taste buds. Do any of these remedies work? I certainly can’t vouch for them except that nettle sting can be treated with dock as I recall from childhood. I also recall treating warts with the “milk” of the milkweed and it was somewhat effective. Should I view their inclusion in the book as an indication that the other suggestions are equally effective? I am not sure and not convinced and find the lack of any bibliography, quoted authority or any references somewhat undermines the credibility of the book.

Perhaps the book fits, with television gardening programmes and gardening magazines, into the category of horticultural entertainment and will be read by most as such. It is pleasant to feel we are in touch with nature, that we can cure many common ailments with commonly available materials and be reassured that our general wellbeing will be enhanced through this contact even if only by readin

HolisticGardenerCoverg about it. Such pleasant self-delusion is perfectly harmless as I have no doubt are the remedies in this book.

So, I have read the book; it was interesting and pleasant but I know I will not be turning its pages again and will continue to rely on my family doctor and mainstream treatments for whatever ills may come my way.  If you are interested in this topic you might like to view the author’s blog at

Published by The Mercier Press and priced at €12.99

Paddy Tobin

Victor and Roz Henry have just won the Belfast Telegraph’s “Blooming Marvellous” competition in the “Large Urban Garden” category which brought with it a £1,000 prize.
Well done to Victor and Roz!
Initially, Victor and Roz had to submit a set of photographs and a written description of their garden. This led to their garden being short listed for a visit from the judges, Averil Milligan, Head Gardener at Rowallane and garden designer, Trevor Edwards. The judges were impressed and reported as follows in the Belfast Telegraph:
Averil said: “There was an exotic feel even before entering this garden as colourful plants bordered the gravel and spilled out of pots. The gate immediately took your eye up to a pergola above and wooden shelving on a wall giving vertical elements immediately in a clever way.“Beyond the luscious lawn a decking area awaited with a pond behind. The eye is drawn around the site by a soft blue palette of wooden structures, glass or plants.“A gate leads onto a path of crunchy gravel leading to a summerhouse. The unusual planting complemented the whole garden, softening edges and creating a sense of surprise throughout.”Trevor added: “Roz and Victor Henry’s garden was a charming, intimate experience filled with many choice shrubs and plants framed within a number of well-structured compartments.The report in the newspaper also carried an interview with Victor which you may wish to view.Congratulations to Victor and Roz and every enjoyment with their prize.VICTOR AND ROZ HENRY'S GARDEN  (1)VICTOR AND ROZ HENRY'S GARDEN  (2)VICTOR AND ROZ HENRY'S GARDEN  (6)



The Munster branch of the IGPS had a fantastic day at Blarney in Bloom . A huge thank you to Blarney Castle & Gardens, to those who donated plants and books, lent furniture, volunteered their time, and to all those who came by to say hello. Well done everyone!

This year we moved our annual plant sale to Blarney in Bloom and at it was a major success. We were amazed with the unbelievable amount of rare and unusual, good quality plant donations from members. Set up began at 8am, and 7 members took turns volunteering on a 2hrly rota. We were kept busy from start until finish with people buying our plants and books, and making enquiries about the society. Many customers left with membership forms, with one person joining there and then. Not only did we raise a significant amount of money, raise the IGPS profile and gain new members, but we also networked, receiving invites to have an IGPS information stand at the Clare Garden Festival, and to work together with a new group called The Young Horts, which encourages and supports young people into horticulture. A very successful day!

Bruno Nicolai

Bruno and Frances at BlarneyBlarney 2Blarney 1Blarney 4

Photos from Bruno Nicolai and Adam Whitbourn

And click here for a photo report on Blarney in Bloom from Margaret McAuliffe: Blarney in Bloom


Visit to Russborough: 
The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland kindly invited the Irish Garden Plant Society to their walled garden restoration project at Russborough House. Members were treated to a guided tour of the remarkable volunteer led work in progress, with an incredible showcase of fruit, vegetables, and wonderful herbaceous plantings, all the more inspiring as it has been accomplished in 3 years. As with all such work, plans and decisions must be made, the grass area will be themed gardens, including one for Irish Heritage Plants that the IGPS will be involved with, while the walnut tree is possibly failing. Followed by wonderful home made cakes and lots of tea. Many thanks to everyone. Stephen Butler

Russborough 1Russborough 4Russborough 3Russborough 2 

Photos by Stephen Butler


Carmel Duignan’s Garden – A visit by IGPS members

A visit to Carmel Duignan’s garden, incredible selection of rare and unusual plants, expertly grown and placed. many thanks Carmel for a wonderful tour. Stephen Butler


Photos by Stephen Butler.


BLOOM 2014

A big occasion on the Irish gardening calendar

Take a tour of the show via our links below.

  • Visit the Floral Marquee to see fabulous displays
  • See the Large Gardens including the Best in Show, The Renault Zoe Garden designed by Kevin Dennis
  • Move on to the Medium Gardens which includes “Tús Nua” by Cian Hawes, the winner of the Super Garden
  • The Small Gardens include Orla Wood’s so funny “Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie Garden”
  • The Postcard Gardens include the wonderful garden of the Alpine Garden Society of Ireland as well as that of Blarney Castle.



On Sunday afternoon we visited the gardens at Malahide Castle and were delighted to be brought around the gardens by Anne James as Anne had been at Malahide for many years and was a font of information on the plants and the history of the gardens.


Click on the PDF link below to view photographs and notes.




IGPS AGM 2014 Garden Visit 2 photo

Our second garden of our AGM weekend was also in Howth, a garden beautifully laid out and containing an interesting selection of plants.

Open the PDF file below to view photographs and notes:




AGM 2014 Garden Visit !

The programme of garden visits which are part of the AGM weekend are a great attraction for members and are always greatly enjoyed. This year our first visit of the weekend was to a particularly special garden on Howth Head, Co. Dublin.

You can view an account of our visit to this garden in the PDF link below.




36 past issues of our Newsletter have been added in pdf format. 

Check under “Publications” – “Newsletter”



‘Moorea’ is the journal of the Irish Garden Plant Society. It has been published occasionally over the years as suitable material was available. We are delighted to have Volume 16 to hand and this has been posted to all current members in the last week.

In this issue:

  • Belinda Jupp: Reviving a Late Eighteenth Century Town Garden (N0. 63 Merrion Square, Dublin)
  • Brendan Sayers, Charles Nelson and Alexandra Caccamo: Phaius tankervilleae (Banks Ex L’Her) Blume- An Early Orchid Portrait by Lydia Shackleton
  • Seamus O’ Brien: In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker – A Sikkim Adventure.
  • Mary Forrest: Hooker Rhododendrons – Irish Interest in the 1850s
  • Carmel Duignan:  Aristocratic Ivies – Some Noble Cousins of the Humble Ivy.
  • Noeleen Smyth:  Global and National Strategies for Plant Conservation and their Implications for Public, Private and Botanic Gardens.
  • Seán Ó Gaothaín: An Overview of the History of Glenveigh Castle Gardens.

Note: ‘Moorea’ is free to members and is generally not available to non-members though we expect to have a small number available for sale by summer. This will be announced on this website.

Volumes 1 – 15 are available as PDFs on this website under “Publications” above.


  • Past issue of Moorea: All past issues of Moorea, the society’s journal, are available here on the website – check “Publications” above
  • New Members are always welcome and easy with our Quick web payment for Memberships and Renewals » Of course, you can always come along to one of our events and join the society at the same time if it would be more convenient for you.

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