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 […]

Crinum moorei

Dublin may have been the first home outside its native habitat of South Africa for the Natal lily. Initially grown from seed, plants grew but did not flourish indoors. They were eventually moved outdoors and planted in the bed that runs in front of the Curvilinear Range at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Here they […]

Penstemon ‘Evelyn’

Penstemon ‘Evelyn’ Penstemons are excellent garden plants; many of them are hardy, they flower for a long period starting in early summer and most varieties are trouble-free. Penstemon ‘Evelyn’ is a relatively small, bushy plant with narrow leaves and ever-so-pretty, pale pink, tubular flowers; while it may never be the out-and-out star of the show, […]

Daboecia cantabrica ‘Alba’

Daboecia cantabrica ‘Alba’ St Dabeoc’s heath is a native Irish plant which is also found in south western France, through northern Spain and into north western Portugal. The flowers usually come in various shades of pink and purple but often different varieties occur giving us flowers with distinct shades and form. Charles Nelson’s A Heritage […]

Geranium pratense ‘Mount Stewart’

This beautiful member of the cranesbill family was named by Nigel Marshall when he was Head Gardener at Mount Stewart in Co Down. Mr Marshall found the plant in a group of G. pratense ‘Mrs Kendal Clark’. At this time there was a considerable collection of the cranesbills, both cultivars and species, at Mount Stewart […]

Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’

In his book Climbing Roses Old and New, the late Graham Stuart Thomas described this rose as ‘quite overpowering in flower both from the quantity of blossom and the delicious multiflora fragrance’. Other growers describe Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’ as ‘a very old cultivar with large clusters of fragrant semi-double flowers, creamy to begin with, then […]

Primula ‘Dark Rosaleen’

Those who grow and those who see Primula ‘Dark Rosaleen’ are unfailingly cheered by the sight. The dark purple flowers with their yellow stripes match beautifully with the bronze foliage making it a delightful plant. It was raised by Joe Kennedy, the famed primula breeder in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, though he unfailingly points out that […]

Escallonia ‘Alice’

  Botanic gardens, beacons of conservation now, at one time were also very keen to hybridise various plants in their care, aiming for better qualities. NBG Glasnevin was the first garden in Ireland to breed new Escallonia hybrids. This work, encouraged by Frederick Moore, was carried out by Charles Frederick Ball, who trained at Kew […]