Plant Portraits

A selection of “Plant Portraits” of Irish Heritage Plants has been added to the website. These have been taken from recent issues of the society’s newsletter. Go to the menu item, “Irish Plants” and select “Plant Portraits” from the drop-down menu to view this first tranche of portraits. Or just click on  “Plant Portraits” here. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Rosa ‘Irish Elegance’

Rosa ‘Irish Elegance’ is a well-named cultivar for its six petals lie almost flat save for the under-curl at their edge and the unfurling bud has a stately poise. It dates from 1905 and came to us from the Royal Irish Nurseries in Newtownards, Co Down owned by Alex Dickson and was then a well-recommended […]

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 […]

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 and […]

Galanthus ‘Castlegar’

Galanthus ‘Castlegar’ Galanthus ‘Castlegar’ is an attractive snowdrop of simple elegance with the added value of flowering early in the snowdrop season, reliably in the first week of December. It will also be forever associated with the late Dr. J.G.D. (Keith) Lamb, one of our great Irish gardeners, generally credited with saving many varieties of […]