Bergenia purpurascens ‘Irish Crimson’

Bergenia purpurascens ‘Irish Crimson’ Bergenia purpurascens ‘Irish Crimson’ is an exceptionally attractive plant in winter when its foliage turns an intense rich red with the onset of the first frosts while its spring pink/ruby red flowers above neat, narrow and upright foliage give another display of exquisite beauty. Given its small stature, it is best […]

Meconopsis ‘Slieve Donard’

Meconopsis ‘Slieve Donard’ The last time rhododendrons were in fashion perhaps thirty years or so ago, I was taken to see a woodland garden with many fine specimens but what actually bowled me over was the sight of a swathe of glorious blue Himalayan poppies weaving between them. I fell in love with Meconopsis ‘Slieve […]

Clematis ‘Glasnevin Dusk’

Clematis ‘Glasnevin Dusk’ This beautiful clematis came from seed collected by Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener at the National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh, when he was in Tibet in the late l990s.   Clematis tibetana subsp. vernayi usually has yellow or orange flowers and the best known variety is Clematis ‘Orange Peel’.  Seamus himself wrote that the […]

Pulmonaria ‘Blake’s Silver’

Pulmonaria ‘Blake’s Silver’ Pulmonarias are given to self-seeding, regularly producing inferior or indifferent forms, but our gardens are occasionally blessed with something worth keeping and growing. Pulmonaria ‘Blake’s Silver’ is one of those good seedlings and arose in the garden of June Blake at Tinode, Kilbride, Co Wicklow. Following commercial propagation, it is widely available […]

Escallonia ‘Donard White’

Escallonia ‘Donard White’ Escallonia are much loved as garden plants, producing blooms over a long period of the summer. They are also noted for their resilience to winds and are popular as wind breaks and shelter belts in coastal areas around the island. It is no surprise to learn that A Heritage of Beauty lists […]

Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’

Solanaceae, what a useful plant family: potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes, chillies and peppers of many kinds, but also one with many poisonous plants including mandrake Mandrogora, and tobacco Nicotiana. Ornamentally, not so useful? But think of Brugmansia or Cestrum. Surely though, the member of the family one sees most frequently is the climbing potato, Solanum crispum […]

Primula ‘Julius Caesar’

The words: ‘…and now it is probably extinct’ kindled a tiny fire of excitement when I read them twenty years ago. They referred to Primula ‘Julius Caesar’, in Charles Nelson’s encyclopaedia of Irish garden plants, A Heritage of Beauty. The Juliana primula, with wine flowers and bronze foliage, had been bred by Winifred Wynne sometime […]

Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’

The ability of some gardeners to spot an unusual trait in a plant is a known fact. Maybe the particular trait has to do with the plant’s stature, flower or leaf colour or its ability to fruit well. It is from here that we get our garden cultivars. In the case of Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry […]

Luma apiculata ‘Glanleam Gold’

Since Victorian times, the Chilean myrtle has seeded itself in millions at Glanleam, Co Kerry; in places their wonderful cinnamon trunks soar over 60 feet high. The rust-coloured bark, flaking to reveal creamy-white patches beneath, is one of the most charming features of this evergreen tree; the clouds of white blossoms are an added bonus […]

Galanthus ‘Straffan’

When I was a child, a programme of traditional Irish music and song wrapped up with ”If you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song” . I feel the words could be rehashed to “If you feel like growing a snowdrop, do grow an Irish snowdrop” and heartily recommend you give Galanthus ‘Straffan’ a […]

Epilobium canum ‘Dublin’

It is a plant name, both scientific and horticultural, that gives cause for confusion and consternation. When I first saw this plant in the 1980s it had the wonderful name of Zauschneria californica, and the clonal identifying name of Dublin. I learned more of its muddled history from accounts in An Irish Flower Garden, An […]