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. There will be events which will be restricted to members only – perhaps because of the size of the garden and the need to restrict numbers or because this is the wish of the garden owner – and, on these occasions, unfortunately, we cannot accommodate non-members.

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.

Book Launch: In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker @ Antrim Old Courthouse
Oct 25 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Book Launch: In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker @ Antrim Old Courthouse

In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker – Book Launch with Seamus O’Brien 

The IGPS is delighted that Anthea Forde will launch Seamus O’Brien’s second book, ‘In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker: A Sikkim Adventure’.  Seamus, Head Gardener at the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, will present a talk and  signed copies of his books will be available to buy at a discounted price £30 (from £40) at this book launch.

Joseph Dalton Hooker ranks as the greatest botanical explorer of the 19th century.  From 1848-1851, he explored the Himalayan ranges of east Nepal and Sikkim, discovering a plethora of new plants, the seeds of which he sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Some of those seedlings found their way to Ireland and inspired by those growing at the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Seamus O’Brien led four expeditions ‘In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker’.  His talk recounts those journeys.

This is our Autumn lecture in Association with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Refreshments provided, plant raffle on evening. Everyone is welcome!


‘Woodland Gardening’ with Ken Cox @ Malone Presbyterian Church Hall
Nov 10 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Ken is Managing Director of Glendoick Garden Centre and mail order nursery in Perth. Born into a family of renowned plantsmen, Ken is grandson of planthunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH. The three generations were and are considered the world’s leading experts on rhododendrons. Ken has written many books on rhododendrons, plant hunting & Scottish gardening, raised many new hybrid rhododendrons & azaleas and introduced many species from his plant hunting expeditions. He also advises the National Trust for Scotland on several of their woodland gardens. In this fascinating lecture, Ken gives his insights into many woodland gardens of the world, history, plant hunting, botanical gardens, from Japan to New Zealand to North America and Europe and of course the great gardens of Sussex, Cornwall and Scotland.

This afternoon lecture is organised by the Alpine Garden Society (Ulster Group) and, by their kind invitation there is free admission to IGPS members. Parking is available in the church grounds.  Please note the change of venue from the usual AGS meeting hall.  Refreshments will be provided and for catering purposes, the AGS would like to know numbers attending.  Please inform Barbara Kelso by email (barbara.kelso@yahoo.co.uk) or phone 028 90861854 if you plan to attend.

Commemorating Armistice Day at National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh. @ National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh.
Nov 11 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Commemorating  Armistice Day

National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow

November 11th 2018 marks one hundred years since Armistice Day when a hard-won peace reigned over Europe. By the time soldiers were returning to Ireland, almost 50,000 of their fellow countrymen lay buried in distant lands. Many years later, Phylis, Lady Moore, wife of Sir Frederick Moore, Keeper of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, sadly related that after the Great War, ‘many an Irish demesne gate had closed, never to open again.’ It was a time of shocking death duties and with staggering changes of land ownership, as a result of so many casualties. The war meant the loss of an entire generation of young men, many of whom were professional gardeners or owners of large gardens and demesnes.

The three major botanic gardens of Great Britain and Ireland; Edinburgh, Glasnevin and Kew, all suffered badly. It’s said that material coming into this renowned trio, from the great plant hunters of the time, fared badly because many of their most skilled staff had been lost on the European battlefields. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh named a number of newly described species after their war dead, while at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the garden’s war dead are honoured on commemorative plaques in the Temple of Arethusa near the Victoria Gate.

No such memorial exists at Glasnevin, though the Kew plaque carries the name of Private Charles Frederick Ball, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (who had their headquarters in Naas, Co. Kildare). C. F. Ball was Glasnevin’s Assistant Keeper and had formerly worked at Kew. He was killed at Gallipoli in September 1915, aged just 36, and had apparently collected seeds of various plants, including Gallipoli oaks for Kew and Glasnevin during his time there. He was one of three staff members never to make it back to Glasnevin.

The Temple of Arethusa, designed as a folly for Princess Augusta by Sir William Chambers in 1758, overlooks Kew’s iconic Great Palm House and pond, and until recently, one of the garden’s most famous trees grew on the Victoria Gate side of the pond, by a pair of Chinese lion dogs.

The Verdun oak (Quercus petraea), photographed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in November 2012

The tree in question was a sessile oak, Quercus petraea, grown from an acorn collected on the muddy battlefields of Verdun, France in the autumn of 1916. One of the longest battles of WW1, lasting from February to December 1916, it also devastated massive swathes of Verdun’s oak and chestnut forests.  It is hard to think of so many young horticulturists and plant enthusiasts forced into such ferocious fighting, yet this un-named soldier found the time to gather acorns from beyond the trenches and send them to Kew where a sapling was planted in a prominent spot by the Great Palm House in January 1919.

It was sad then, when this notable tree was hit by the severe St Jude’s Day storm that hit the south of England in October 2013 and was so badly damaged that it needed removal just before the Armistice Day remembrances for that year. By chance Thomas Pakenham, on a visit to Kew, had gathered acorns from the tree, before its sudden demise, and raised several at Tullynally Castle in Co. Westmeath. After a visit there a number of years ago, I left with one of Thomas’s young seedling and so the progeny of Kew’s historic Verdun oak persists in a number of Irish gardens. The Tullynally seedling is now almost 2 m tall here at Kilmacurragh and thriving.

As a mark of respect to those Irishmen who died in the Great War, particularly those who were gardeners, a gathering will take place at Kilmacurragh at 11 am on November 11th 2018, when on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Thomas Pakenham, will plant the Verdun oak seedling on the 18th century Pond Vista, by the ruins of the drawing room of Kilmacurragh House, which saw two consecutive owners die in 1915 and 1916, alongside several tenants and gardeners from the estate.

The event will be attended by the principal Irish gardening and arboricultural societies; the Irish Garden Plant Society, the Irish Tree Society, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, among others.


November 11th 2018 at 11 am. National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh. Meet in visitor car park at 10.45.

Text and image: Seamus O’Brien



‘From Show Gardens to Real Gardens’ with Oliver Schurmann @ Malone House
Dec 5 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

The IGPS are delighted to welcome Oliver Schurmann from Mount Venus Nursery in Dublin.  Oliver presents an illustrated talk on designing cutting edge show gardens and how these creations have a positive or negative influence on our real gardens.


This lecture is in Association with Belfast City Council.

Refreshments provided, plant raffle on evening.  Everyone is welcome!

‘My Thirty Best Plants’ with Bob Brown @ Antrim Old Courthouse
Mar 21 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Bob Brown is proprietor of Cotswold Garden Flowers nursery and Just Must Perennials, a wholesale nursery.  He has a life-long obsession with gardening and is known for having opinions (many very critical) about all the 16-17 thousand kinds of plants he’s grown or tried to grow.  Bob oversees herbaceous trials for the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) for the Royal Horticultural Society. He is a prolific writer and has a monthly section in ‘Which? Gardening’ and he is holder of the Veitch Memorial Medal awarded for the science and advancement of horticulture. His specialist nursery, based in Evesham, stocks a huge range of unusual perennials, with a focus on good old-fashioned plants, newly introduced plants bred for not only colour and form but for vigour as well, and plants newly introduced from the wild.

This is our Autumn lecture in Association with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Refreshments provided, plant raffle on evening. Everyone is welcome!