Upcoming Events

Members are eligible to attend events in any part of Ireland, so don’t limit your browsing to your own location. The categorisation by geographic region is for administration and organisational purposes only.

Non-members are very welcome at our events though there will be a charge for insurance purposes. Do come along and join us and, perhaps, become a member.

We occasionally list events of other groups in the ‘Other Events’ category, generally for groups we regularly work with. These are not part of the official IGPS programme but may be of interest to members.

Auriculas and Primulas: Their Origins and Uses with Paul Smyth @ Northridge House
Feb 6 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Paul Smyth who has gained considerable experience at Crug Farm Nursery as well as travelling on several plant hunting expeditions abroad will speak on those prized garden plants, primroses and auriculas.

The Story of Blarney Castle Gardens – with Adam Whitbourn @ National Botanic Gardens
Feb 15 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Adam Whitbourn, head gardener at Blarney Castle gardens, will give an insight into the history and development of the gardens at this world famous landmark. Adam will give us a virtual tour of some of the highlights, as well as explaining ongoing projects such as the Irish Heritage Plant collection, his internet based tree tagging system and results from recent collecting trips in Vietnam.
This is a joint lecture with the Alpine Garden Society.
Blarney Castle Garden – photograph from Blarney Castle Garden website.
Mike Snowden: ‘Ashfield House: Bringing a garden from the past to the present’ @ St. Bride’s Hall
Feb 24 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Saturday 24th February 2018 at 2pm
St. Bride’s Hall, 38 Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast, BT9 6FP
Mike Snowden: ‘Ashfield House: Bringing a garden from the past to the present’
Prior to his retirement several years ago, Mike Snowden was the Head Gardener at Rowallane Garden for 20 years. Previously he had worked at other National Trust properties in North Wales such as Bodnant and became Head Gardener at Erddig, Wexham, restoring and recreating the 18th Century garden. 
In this illustrated talk, Mike will share how a phone call in 2007 began a relationship with Ashfield House at Beauparc, Co. Meath. Initially, it was for the restoration of the dilapidated walled garden. Ten years on has seen the restoration of the house, outbuildings and the garden together with the 300 acre estate.


Ashfield – in the past


Ashfield  – in the present
Refreshments provided and plant raffle after the talk. An IGPS garden visit to Ashfield House is being planned for this summer, further details to follow at a later date.
Plants and Pictures – with Ronald Houtman @ National Botanic Gardens
Mar 8 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Thursday 8 March 2018 at 8pm NBG Glasnevin: Ronald Houtman.
Dutch horticulturalist Ronald Houtman of plantsandpictures.com will speak about new plants and cultivars especially those of Dutch origin along with a selection of some of his personal favourites.

Ronald Houtman (1967) will talk about interesting ornamental garden plants, recently introduced in the Netherlands. Houtman is secretary of the Trials Committee of the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society and Editor-in-Chief of the annual magazine Dendroflora, published by this society and the Dutch Dendrology Society. Houtman wrote several books, and frequently writes articles for magazines.

Houtman will show recently introduced trees, shrubs, conifers and herbaceous perennials worth using in gardens. The majority of these plants was raised in the Netherlands. Some by professional breeders, others by small growers or in private gardens. Some of these readily available, others very new to be introduced in 2018 or 2019. To broaden the context of this talk, a number of gardens in the Netherlands will be discussed as well.

A treat in store for all plants people.
‘Garden Inspirations’ with Andrea Jones @ The Old Courthouse,
Mar 22 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Andrea has photographed gardens professionally for over twenty years and is now one of the world’s foremost garden photographers. Her many varied assignments have taken her around the globe, working on books, magazines and newspaper assignments.

The prairie meadow and shed
There is nothing quite like visiting gardens to get ideas for designing your own and in this illustrated talk Andrea hopes to show you many that will inspire and trigger ideas for your own or your clients. As a garden photographer, Andrea has had more opportunities than most to visit not just gardens open to the public but some very private gardens too – and in many countries around the world. The range of styles in which gardens have been created is quite phenomenal and she tries not to miss any opportunity to visit a new one.
The talk will include many illustrations and Andrea will look at many types of garden styles, including prairie, geometric, dry, landscaped, gravel, water, exotic, contemporary, modern, minimal, oriental and night.
Refreshments provided, plant raffle on evening.  This is our Spring lecture in Association with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The Bay Garden – with Frances MacDonald @ National Botanic Gardens
Apr 19 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Frances MacDonald is the Garden Tours Manager for Travel Department and guides the majority of their garden tours each year both at home and abroad.  Over the past twenty years, she has visited most of the well-known gardens in the British Isles as well as gardens in France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, China, Japan and Pennsylvania.  This talk shows some of the gardens she has visited, plants she has seen but also indicates how lucky we are to live in the temperate climate of Ireland where we can grow  those same plants from all over the world”
Perennial grasses at The Bay Garden
Annual General Meeting 2018 @ Burrendale Hotel
May 19 – May 20 all-day

Annual General Meeting Weekend 2018


Mourne Mountains photographed by Jenny Constable

Join us for the Society’s AGM weekend and visit an outstanding selection of gardens where the Mountains of Mourne, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sweep down to the sea. South County Down has a rich heritage of horticultural excellence. Castlewellan Arboretum which along with Annes Grove in Co Cork belonged to the Annesley family has been described as “…a world-class gem”. Also world class in their time were the Slieve Donard Nursery in Newcastle and Daisy Hill Nursery in Newry, both sadly defunct but their legacy lives on in the names of some of our most beautiful plants such as Pieris japonica ‘Daisy Hill’ and the outstanding Himalayan poppy, Meconopsis x sheldonii ‘Slieve Donard’.

Meconopsis x sheldonii ‘Slieve Donard’ photographed by Maeve Bell


Garden visits

Following the meeting which starts at 9.45am, there will be tea/coffee and scones after which we will share cars and drive the few miles to Castlewellan Forest Park; here there will be a guided tour of the Arboretum with its internationally important collection of trees and shrubs including magnolias and rhododendrons which should be in bloom. A light lunch (included in the ticket price) will be followed by a further visit to a nearby well-established private garden.  On Sunday morning we drive through the heart of the Mournes to Ballyedmond Castle on the shores of Carlingford Lough; after light refreshments in the Orangery there will be a choice of guided tours taking in among other things the kitchen garden, the magnolia walk and the newly developed woodland area. We make our own arrangements for lunch in the villages of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint before our final visit is to the garden of two knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardeners on the outskirts of Newry before a cuppa and tray bake (included in the ticket price) to fortify us for the journey home.


NB For the comfort and enjoyment of all concerned, the garden visits will be limited to 100 people.

Castlewellan Arboretum photographed by Jenny Constable



The comfortable 4* Burrendale Hotel Country Club and Spa on the Castlewellan Road in Newcastle – www.burrendale.com telephone +44 28 4372 2599 has agreed an excellent package for our stay:

One night B&B per person sharing (pps)                                £75

One night B&B pps including the AGM dinner                       £85

Two nights B&B pps including the AGM dinner                     £145

Single supplement                                                                  £20 per night.

The hotel is holding rooms for us until 14th February.  Book directly with the hotel mentioning the Irish Garden Plant Society to secure these rates. A deposit of £50 is required. After this date, although the special rate will continue, there is no guarantee of getting a room. If you wish to stay elsewhere, details of how to contact the local Council’s Visitor Information Centre can be found on www.newrymournedown.org.



There are different ticket prices depending on whether you are staying in the Burrendale Hotel or not. Be sure to have secured your accommodation in the Burrendale before making your booking so that you pay the correct amount.


  • The cost of the weekend for members who have booked the package with the Burrendale Hotel inclusive of dinner is £59.
  • If you are staying elsewhere and wish to attend the dinner on Saturday night, the cost of the weekend is £92 (£59 plus £33 for the dinner).
  • Members may bring one guest; guests pay a £10 supplement on the above prices.
  • If you have special dietary requirements, eg vegetarian, gluten-free and so on, please email Barbara Kelso (see below) with details as otherwise we won’t know to inform the hotel.
  • For further enquiries, please contact igps.northern@gmail.com or phone Barbara Kelso +44 7449 484050 or Maeve Bell +44 7713 739482.
  • Please use online booking if at all possible.


Booking will close 30th April.  As an alternative to booking online you can return the booking form in the January newsletter to Barbara Kelso, 25 Farm Lodge Drive, Greenisland, Co. Antrim BT38 8XN.