“A View from the Palm House” – Matthew Jebb at Malone House

Maeve Bell, Chairperson IGPS Northern Ireland, welcoming Matthew Jebb and those attending to the talk at Malone House.

In his talk ‘A View from the Palm House’, Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens, entranced a large audience in Belfast with a series of inter-connections between art, architecture, plants, people, invasive species, climate change and much more besides.

A wonderful attendance at Matthew’s talk

Perhaps the most stunning moment was when he produced the seeds of the entire flora of the island of Ireland – all contained in a match box. IGPS  members were joined by some of the staff from Belfast Botanic Gardens and committee members of the Friends of  Belfast Botanic Gardens for the event in Malone House, kindly made available by Belfast Parks Department, its stunning seasonal decorations adding to everyone’s enjoyment

A moment to amaze the audience – this matchbox contains seed from all the flora of the island of Ireland. Matthew is showing them to Billy McCone, IGPS Chairperson


The raffle at these talks is always great fun. Among the prizes on this occasion was a selection of daffodils from Brian Duncan and they attracted great attention. Here is Pat Cameron, one of the winners in the raffle with her prize, Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’.


And, finally, it is always enjoyable to finish off a good night with a welcome cup of tea

Many thanks to Maeve Bell and Barbara Kelso for the fabulous photographs and write-up on the night.

Matthew Pottage, at IGPS Munster

Left to right: Yvette Jones, Janet Edwardes, Martin Edwardes, Matthew Pottage, Margaret Mc Auliffe and Ted Kiely

Matthew Pottage, Curator of RHS Garden Wisley, delivered a very interesting talk to IGPS members and guests in Cork this evening. He gave a brief outline of the history of the Royal Horticultural Society with particular reference to the garden at Wisley, an overview of the gardens as they are at present and an outline of an astonishing and ambitious range of plans for developments in the coming few years.  The talk was followed by a lively and most engaging Q & A where Matthew gave most generously of his time and the range of questions reflected the deep interest the audience had in his presentation.

Yvette Jones, Matthew Pottage and Bruno Nicolai setting up for this evening’s talk

Bruno Nicolai and Matthew Pottage setting up for the talk this evening.

Gathering for this evening’s talk

Rory Newell and Bruno Nicolai at this evening’s talk

Matthew Pottage: “Wisley – The New Chapter of the Flagship Garden of the RHS!

IGPS Munster – Tuesday next, 7th November:

Matthew Pottage at Northridge House, St Luke’s Home Mahon Cork

See “Events”  for full details

‘Portraying Ireland’s Garden Plants’

The Irish Society of Botanical Artists would like to invite all IGPS members to the talk by Charles Nelson on Saturday 18 November at 2.00pm in the Visitor Centre Auditorium at the National Botanic Gardens. The title of the talk is ‘Portraying Ireland’s Garden Plants’. I know that you have an event yourselves at the Botanic Gardens on the 16th, but I hope that some enthusiasts will manage to get to both. The event is free-of-charge. There will be a raffle of a limited edition archival pigment print of Rona Orchard’s daffodils that featured on the cover of ‘Heritage Irish Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta‘.

Fota Island – an IGPS Visit

We were delighted to have a good number of members join us for our guided tour of Fota Island gardens with Head Gardener, David O’Regan, on Saturday, 14th of October last.

Meeting with David O’Regan in front of the house before we began our walk around the garden.

David met us at the house and gave us a wonderfully informative introduction to our walk with a history of the estate, the house and the gardens bringing us right up to date with the latest developments and possible plans for the future.

David O’Regan, Head Gardener at Fota Island, and our guide for the day

Afterwards we took a pleasant stroll around the gardens with David pointing out the especially interesting trees and shrubs telling us their story – with many trees well over a century old there were many interesting stories! Of course, all was not history as new introductions are being planted each season so that the garden continues to develop and change.


Around the gardens

Any garden visit is improved greatly when you can walk with the gardener and David made this a very special day for us.

Many thanks to him and to the members of the IGPS Munster committee who organised the visit.

And, finally, our youngest member on the day enjoying a quiet moment with her grandmother – and by lunchtime she had a new baby sister so, congratulations and best wishes!

Paddy Tobin.

IGPS Leinster Plant Sale Coming Soon!

A Visit to Áras an Uachtaráin

IGPS Leinster organised an outing to Áras an Uachtaráin on the 9th of September. Though attendance was limited to 40 there were members from all regions present and we had a very pleasant day.

All ready to begin our tour of the gardens!

The visit was made special by the head gardener who gave us a very informative guided tour and entertained us with stories and recollections from his years working in the gardens. One could not but be impressed by the lines of trees, mainly Irish oaks, planted by visiting dignitaries over the last century and a half – each fronted a commemorative plaque. Though the plaques were of great interest, with names and dates back to the mid 19th century, it was the fact that many of the trees were of such a great age which was so impressive.

Standing under an Irish Oak planted by Queen Victoria in 1853

The former dairy with a newly developed rose garden

Front of house

The front of the house.

The walled garden was especially colourful with massed plantings of dahlias within box parterres and many of these dahlias were of Irish origin. The Paxton glasshouse was especially impressive and it was a wonderful experience to see it restored so perfectly and also to see it back in everyday use.

The walled garden with mass plantings of dahlias

The beautifully restored Paxton Glasshouse

Inside the glasshouse

Many thanks to the Leinster Committee for their work in organising this event and I can see a demand for it to be repeated.


Text and photos from Paddy Tobin

30th Anniversary at The Rectory Garden

The warm sunny afternoon of 9th August saw an impressive turnout of IGPS members and gues ts to celebrate the 30 year partnership between the rectory garden volunteers and the Ulster Folk and Transport museum. A virtual horticultural who’s who; the guests, many of whom had been involved in the early days of creating the garden, included 1987 IGPS Chair Mary Davies from Dublin, travelling from Donegal, her successor Mary Forrest, who in 1988 planted the garden’s weeping ash, past Northern regional representative Reg Maxwell who served on the first working party with the museum, the first volunteer Katherine Nixon who recalls frequently working on her own, Mike Snowden former head of Rowallane Gardens and past Secretary of the Northern region Catherine Tyrie and her husband, Paul Hackney who had also worked for the museum. The event was well supported by many IGPS members from across the regions.

IGPS members and guests enjoying the garden

Attractions for the day included, flower arranging demonstrations by Cherry Townsend and children’s activities such as making paper flowers and lavender bags. There was a bee-keeping stand, guided garden talks and also a very successful plant sales table. Complimentary refreshments, including a delicious homemade sparkling elderflower cordial, were served and a melody of live traditional Irish music provided a pleasing background to the festivities.

People enjoying the garden in the beautiful sunshine

The anniversary marked the conception of the garden, first embarked upon in 1987 when the IGPS was looking for a garden project. By happy coincidence the old rectory from the townland of Lismacloskey, near Toomebridge, County Antrim, had been reconstructed at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra. The Society were asked to design and plant a garden appropriate for that of rural clergyman circa 1900.  Since then the garden has been developed and maintained by a succession of volunteers, mostly, but not always, IGPS members.  The plan of the garden is simple with a central straight path leading from the gate to the front door and two rectangular flower beds in front of the house, which now includes many Irish heritage plants.


In commemoration of the anniversary, IGPS Chairman Billy McCone, assisted by volunteer Lorna Goldstrom planted two heritage plants cultivated by Irish nurseries; Agapanthus ‘Midnight Blue’ bred by Slieve Donard and Escallionia ‘C. F. Ball’ originally grown at Glasnevin but then grown and distributed by Daisy Hill, Newry.

Helpers on the plant stall – Lorna Goldstrom, Billy McCone and Barbara Kelso

Billy thanked all those pioneer gardeners who were present, also including Andrena Duffin and Patrick Quigley who were unable attend, remarking on how much they had done in taking the site from a patch of grass to the garden it is today.  Congratulating the current volunteers – Marion Allen, Lorna Goldstrom, Barbara Mayne, Carrie Mercer, Sharon Morrow, Margaret Newman, Yvonne Penpraze and Maureen Reid on their organisation of the day, Billy also praised the team on the appearance of the garden which he thought magnificent. Thanks were also given to the Folk Museum staff, in particular, Ruth Osborne, retired head groundsman Andy Bingham and Operations Manager David Blemings, for their help, support, drive and enthusiasm over the years.

Garden volunteers Carrie Mercer and Barbara Mayne, organising the refreshments in the beautifully decorated and transformed Potting Shed


Billy McCone concluded:

“Not only is the rectory garden a collection of beautiful plants, but it is more than that; it is a safe haven for Irish plants and without the garden, without the volunteers and without the support from the museum we would not have that safe haven.  Increasingly some of the plants left as our legacy, as part of our heritage and plants with our stories are becoming scarcer.  We very much need gardens like the Rectory garden and we very much need the volunteers. So to the volunteers, past volunteers to the staff of the Ulster Folk and Transport museum, thank you for the 30 years and we wish you many, many more.”

This report is from Barbara Kelso, a member of the Northern Committee of the IGPS and the photographs are from Stephen Weatherall. 

If you would like to see further photographs from the day see this SLIDESHOW


Garden visit to Aughentaine Estate, July 2017

Sixty- two members and guests of the IGPS had a wonderful day out to Aughentaine Estate, on the outskirts of Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, home of James and Caro Hamilton Stubber.  It was a beautiful sunny day, we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch on the front terrace and afterwards Caro very kindly treated us to a delicious pudding, tea/coffee and homemade traybakes.  We had a plant sales table and afterwards James gave a short talk on the history of the estate, illustrated by colourful photos on a large display board.
Designed in the mid 1950’s by Percy Crane, and created over the last 50 years by Mrs John Hamilton Stubber, the extensive gardens at Aughentaine cover some 12 acres and are on an elevated site with magnificent views.  They range from formal terraced herbaceous borders to planted parkland, a walled kitchen garden and an attractive woodland glen sheltering a collection of specimen rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and trees.
James and Head Gardener Barbara Carleton, guided us around the garden on a wonderful tour, pointing out special plants combined with interesting stories.  At the end of the day, Billy McCone presented the book ‘Irish Heritage Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta’ as a gift each to Caro and Barbara.  Many thanks again James, Caro and Barbara, it certainly was a fabulous day!  
Many thanks to Barbara Kelso for text and photographs.

July Events 2017

Read what’s coming up this month in IGPS activities: July News!

Doreen Wilson’s Garden, July 2017

Doreen and Ivan Wilson came to a new house on a hill above Dundonald between Belfast and Newtownards some 36 years ago. It was sitting in a “…barren, wind-swept field”. This is hard to believe today as the garden they have made is filled with unusual shrubs and trees, eye-catching colour combinations, a lushly planted pond and an immaculate, orderly vegetable plot. From the start the garden has been run on organic principles and, in addition to the three large compost heaps, there are comfrey leaves soaking in a butt and a wormery.

Our host, Doreen.

Some of the choice plants we admired included a colourful selection of Roscoea, a very deep blue Iris which sadly had come without a name and several pergolas festooned with scented climbing roses. In addition there was the unusual Weigelia middendorfiana in full flower, a rare Chinese tree Emmanopterys henryi found by and named in honour of Augustine Henry whose large glossy leaves contrasted beautifully with Cornus ‘Porlock, and the exotic-looking Amicia zygomeris which Doreen over-winters in the ground with just a small amount of protection.
Windy – possibly; barren – absolutely not!

One of several Hydrangea paniculata grown by Doreen

Emmenopterys with Cornus.

With thanks to Maeve Bell for images and text.

Visit to Knox Gass Garden


This is a relatively new garden and is already overflowing with interesting plants. Knox has grown
quite a lot from seed or cuttings with stunning results.

Every habitat of the garden has appropriate species from the Gunnera at the bog garden to the house gables covered with Fremontodendron, Roses and Hypericum  in stunning yellows.

Knox is an enthusiastic composter with a virtual terrace of compost bins, a sizeable fruit cage, potting sheds and green houses. He must never sit down.

Many thanks to Victor Henry for these photographs and his notes on the visit to Knox Gass’ garden!

Visit to Tourin House and Lismore Castle

Many thanks to Sara Whelan who was part of the IGPS Munster outing to Tourin House and Lismore Castle on Saturday, 20th May, for forwarding these photographs from the day.

This first group is of Lismore Castle:


And this second group is from Tourin House:

Annual General Meeting, Birr, 2017

Reports are coming in on the A.G.M. weekend in Birr with some members posting images on Facebook with their comments.

It would seem there was some rain but that this did not dampen spirits and that it was a very enjoyable weekend. Certainly some of the private comments on the garden were simply gushing in their delight.

Victor and Roz Henry and Jenny Constable have sent photographs for me to use – many thanks to them for taking the time to do so – and I hope they give you a flavour of the weekend.

You can view slideshows from Victor, Roz and Jenny on the IGPS Blog

Birr Castle by Jenny Constable 20150515 (8)


Heritage Irish Plants Launch: Opening Remarks by Martyn Rix

On November 22 2016 the Irish Society of Botanical Artists and the Irish Garden Plant Society had the great honour of welcoming Martyn Rix to the National Botanic Gardens. Martyn had generously accepted the invitation to come to launch Heritage Irish Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta. As the time for speeches approached, the crowd of attentive gardeners, artists and guests crammed into the gallery that held stacks of books and catalogues along with the 62 paintings used to illustrate the latest book to celebrate Irish plants and horticulture. As the large attendance inhibited our ability to take in all that Martyn had to say I asked if he would, in the modern sense, put pen to paper for us. And he did.

Martyn began with by remembering that some of his most enjoyable and formative years were spent at Trinity College Dublin and when reading the introduction to the book he remarked that …

I was interested in the story that Charles Nelson tells about the Provost Mahaffy, a great classicist and fancier and collector of snowdrops. On a visit to Athens in 1884, Mahaffy collected an Autumn-flowering snowdrop which Frederick Burbidge, the director of the Trinity College botanic garden in Ballsbridge, named Galanthus rachelae, after Mahaffy’s elder daughter. It was growing on Mount Hymettus, east of Athens, then covered in spiny Euphorbia acanthothamnos (spiny cushion). Even in classical times, Hymettus was famous for its honey, and the spurge is a great source of honey in early spring.

Euphorbia acanthothamnos pm1

Euphorbia acanthothamnos, Peter A. Mansfeld via Wikimedia Commons

A few years later, Mahaffy visited Mount Athos, famous for its monasteries, and collected another snowdrop, which was named after his younger daughter, Elsa.  This was a dwarf, early-flowering Galanthus reginae-olgae.  Both were planted at Glasnevin but by 1948, even Lady Phylis Moore–Irish gardener and wife of the Director of the botanic gardens at Glasnevin, Dublin–could find no trace of either. 

It was then that we see the logic in the Irish Society of Botanical Artists and the Irish Garden Plant Society desire to have Martyn Rix launch the new book. Martyn Rix is the current Editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, the longest running botanical periodical. Through this work and his many other publications he has built an incredible knowledge of the art of plant portraiture. Martyn continued…

Rachel’s snowdrop is, however, preserved as a painting by E.A. Bowles (an early snowdrop enthusiast) in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library, and this would be a guide to anyone who might rediscover the original clone surviving in an Irish garden.

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine has been a source of paintings of wild plants in cultivation, since its inception by William Curtis in London in 1789.  Initially most of the flowers illustrated were grown in the Chelsea Physic Garden, or in Curtis’s own botanic garden in South Kensington,  but from an early date, Ireland provided some of the models. Charles Nelson has identified one of the earliest, dating from 1810. This was Leptospermum lanigerum, from the east coast of Australia, grown in the Dublin Society’s garden at Glasnevin, which had been founded in 1795.

In the 1830s William Hooker, then in Glasgow, took over the editorship of the magazine, and again obtained plants from Glasnevin, notably those collected by John Tweedie in the Argentine between 1836 and 1854. Twelve of Tweedie’s introductions are illustrated in the magazine; Tweedie is remembered by Tweedia coerulea, an Asclepiad with flowers of a unique shade of pale greenish blue. It is more correctly known today as Oxypetalum coeruleum.

Oxypetalum caeruleum

Oxypetalum caeruleum By Kurt Stüber via Wikimedia Commons

Tweedie also introduced the wonderfully scented Sinningia tubiflora.

Sinningia tubiflora illustration

Sinningia tubiflora illustration by Swallowtail Garden Seeds from Santa Rosa, California via Wikimedia Commons

A less familiar Illustrator’s name is then introduced to us by Martyn…

One Dublin-born artist has, until now, received little recognition. He is A.F. Lyndon (1836-1917),  who travelled widely in Bermuda and New Brunswick in particular,  before settling in Driffield in Yorkshire, to work for the engraver and publisher Benjamin Fawsett.  Lyndon drew the illustrations for Lowe’s Our Native Ferns, and Beautiful-leaved Plants, as well as the Revd. William Houghton’s British Freshwater Fishes.

It is then that the setting of the National Botanic Gardens for the launch and as a ‘home’ for both Societies is broadened…

While the Hookers, father and son, were directors of Kew for the last 70 years of the 19th century, the reign of the Moores at Glasnevin lasted 84 years, from 1838 until 1922. The elder Moore is remembered in Crinum moorei, introduced from Natal, and illustrated in Curtis’s magazine in 1863.  Large clumps of the original plants still thrive at Glasnevin.

The last of the Moores was Lady Phylis Moore, much younger than her husband, who died in 1949, and who was still spoken of in hallowed terms by gardeners in Ireland in the 1960s, though, sadly, I never met her.

W.E. Trevithick (1899-1958) contributed around 60 plates to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. He was born when his father was head gardener to Lord Headfort in his great garden near Kells. The white, scented Rhododendron headfortianum was painted from the garden, as well as Lilium formosanum and Tsuga chinensis. His son, also William Edward, was a gardener at Headfort from the age of 13, then at Glasnevin, and finally at Kew, where he worked in the herbarium.

It is not only the mention of orchids, a particular favourite plant family of mine but also the move to more recent history that made me even more attentive to Martyn’s words…

Orchids were a particular favourite of the younger Sir Frederick Moore, and I remember the wonderful display in the glasshouses at Glasnevin in the 1960s, when I came to Dublin to read botany at Trinity under David Webb. Another speciality were the hanging baskets of Dampiera, formerly Clianthus formosus, with silver leaves and striking red and black flowers.

In these years Lord Talbot de Malahide was building up his collection at Malahide Castle, and was a friendly host for lunch on Sunday, followed by a tour of the garden and tea upstairs in the drawing room, presided over by his sister Rose. Many of his plants came from the Malahide estate in Tasmania, and were the models for paintings by Margaret Stones, the great Australian flower painter, in the Endemic Flora of Tasmania. He also grew plants from other areas, and I collected seeds for him in Turkey and Iran, with Gillie Walsh-Kemmis and Michael Walsh in 1968 and, with Audrey Napper from Loughcrew, in 1969.

Wendy Walsh and her family were also great hosts, as well as being very artistic.  It was when Michael was working in Kiribati, in the South Pacific, in 1970, that Wendy visited him and began painting flowers again.  As well as her paintings for Irish postage stamps, she painted several plants for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, including Iris lazica, which Michael had collected in Turkey, and Deutzia purpurascens ‘Alpine Magician’, collected by Reginald Farrer in Burma in 1919, and preserved at Glasnevin.

Wendy’s main work was published in a series of beautiful books in co-operation with Charles Nelson, on Irish plants, both native and cultivated. These will be her most lasting legacy.

And to round it all off…

It is great to see this theme being carried on in the present exhibition by young botanical artists at work today.  Deborah Lambkin is now a regular contributor to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, specialising in exotic orchids, and Susan Sex has recently painted native species for the Magazine.  Lynn Stringer is also a regular contributor, painting new introductions grown by Séamus O’Brien at the National Botanic Garden at Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow.

It was a great honour to be at the podium alongside Martyn Rix. We, the Irish Garden Plant Society and the Irish Society of Botanical Artists, owe him a great debt of gratitude in his acceptance to launch the book and open the exhibition but also for his generosity while visiting. As often happens, events will go by and in the excitement of it all some details will be forgotten. I am happy to say that this will not happen to Martyn Rix’s words of the day.

Brendan Sayers

Mount Congreve – A National Treasure

IGPS Munster hosted Paddy Tobin with his talk on Mount Congreve Gardens at their new venue at Northridge House, St. Luke’s Home, in Blackrock. There was a very good attendance and the talk will certainly entice people to make the journey to Waterford to visit these excellent gardens. Mount Congreve Gardens are hosting the Rare Plant Fair on Sunday, 14th May, which might be a good opportunity to visit.

View to house

The venue is proving to  be very convenient with excellent parking and facilities for a chat and refreshments afterwards.

Keep an eye out for our next event which will be an outing to Lismore Castle and Tourin House on the 20th of May – details will be posted in the Events section here on the website and also on Facebook.

The Story of Blarney Castle


Adam Whitbourn at the Old Courthouse in Antrim.                                           Photo from Barbara Kelso

About 80 members and friends thoroughly enjoyed Adam Whitbourn, Head Gardener at Blarney Castle, telling the story of the Castle’s gardens at the Old Courthouse in Antrim on Thursday 23 March. Who could fail to enjoy features such as the Witch’s Kitchen, the Wishing Steps and the Poison Garden? We admired the tree collection from the 600 year old yews to the more modern introductions, envied the double herbaceous borders spanned by a pergola swathed in roses created from scratch in a mere three years, and applauded his vision in creating an Irish Trail featuring a collection of Irish cultivars – the aims of the IGPS brought to life.

Report from Maeve Bell


Enjoying Adam’s talk!                                                                                        Photo from Barbara Kelso

Things That Turn Nick Macer On!

Nick Macer speaking to the IGPS group in Cork. Photograph from Bruno Nicolai

Nick Macer speaking to the IGPS group in Cork. Photograph from Bruno Nicolai

There was a large turn out of IGPS members and guests for Nick Macer’s talk on the 24th of January in Cork. Nick has travelled extensively in search of new and interesting plants and has introduced many of these through his Pan Global Plants Nursery. He presented his plants in groups “Small”, “Big”, “Bigger” and “Bark” rather than in a geographical arrangement matching his expeditions, a generally more common approach, which added to the amusing – as with the title – approach he took to his subject.

Those plants which turn Nick on were, by and large, his own discoveries and introductions and as many are not as yet widely available were generally unfamiliar to the audience. A talk which is educational as well as entertaining is always enjoyed and appreciated.

The talk was in Northridge House, St. Luke’s Home, Blackrock, the new venue for Munster winter talks. It is an excellent location with ample parking and ease of access and should encourage more people to attend.

The ever popular raffle at such events was especially popular last evening as there was a beautiful selection hellebores on offer and the winners went home delighted with their good fortune.

The next talk at Nortridge House will be presented by Billy Alexander of Kells Bay Garden in Co. Kerry on the 7th February. Do come along and join us!

Nick Macer visiting Blarney Castle Gardens with Adam Whitbourn, Head Gardener at Blarney, Martin Edwardes, Margaret McAuliffe, Chairperson  IGPS Munster, and Janet Edwardes.

Nick Macer visiting Blarney Castle Gardens with Adam Whitbourn, Head Gardener at Blarney, Martin Edwardes, Margaret McAuliffe, Chairperson IGPS Munster, and Janet Edwardes.     Photo supplied by Margaret McAuliffe. 

Paddy Tobin


Colin Crosbie – “Shady Characters”

Mike Snowden with Colin Crosbie

Mike Snowden with Colin Crosbie

Thanks to the kind invitation of the Alpine Garden Society, Northern members had the opportunity to enjoy a lecture by Colin Crosbie on ‘Shady Characters’ on the afternoon of Saturday 21st January. It was entertaining and informative, full of useful recommendations for good ‘doers’ in shade, whether dappled or deep which, as he pointed out, is essentially what most of us on the island of Ireland enjoy most of the time. His plants ranged from bulbs and herbaceous plants through to shrubs and trees; some of the main genera included Arisaema, Epimedium, and Roscoea while ferns, lilies and hellebores were also well represented.

Mac Dunlop, the Vice Chairman of the Ulster Group of the Alpine Garden Society, talking to Victor Henry

Mac Dunlop, the Vice Chairman of the Ulster Group of the Alpine Garden Society, talking to Victor Henry

Viv Kirk and Barbara Kelso

Viv Kirk and Barbara Kelso

The Bay Garden – A talk by Frances McDonald

A report from Maeve Bell on a very enjoyable evening in Belfast!

The Bay Garden photo

There was a packed room at Malone House Belfast on Wednesday 7th December to hear Frances MacDonald, so much so that there had to be a short delay while extra chairs were fetched and installed. Frances delighted the audience with her account of the development of The Bay Garden, the garden in Camolin, Co. Wexford which she and her husband Iain have created over the past 25+ years.

The Bay Garden


The Bay Garden has something for everyone: strong design elements, well-chosen planting and colour combinations, some exotics, and plants which are guaranteed ‘good doers’ in the Irish climate. Put all this together with Frances’s dry wit and willingness to share some of the put-downs she has endured on the lecture circuit over the years resulted in furious note-taking being interspersed with laughter, so much so that apparently one gentleman complained to her afterwards that he had been looking forward to a  snooze but kept being woken up by the noise of people enjoying themselves!