A summer update from Pogue’s Entry Garden, Antrim

Courtesy of Robert Logan with photographs from Billy McCone and Yvonne Penpraze

For the last 10 years or so, The Irish Garden Plant Society have played a role maintaining and developing Pogue’s Entry Garden, the property of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council.

The property marks the birthplace of Alexander Irvine in 1863, whose claim to fame lies in his authorship of ‘My Lady of the Chimney Corner’, a book which extols the virtues of his mother and describes the deprivations and challenges of the times, underwritten by a surfeit of love.

Should you wish to learn more about the life of Alexander Irvine, please follow this link.

Pogue’s Entry was home to many families and some of the cottage dwellings remain to this day, the rest of the plot is open space and it’s into this space the IGPS arrived, seeing it as both a challenge and an opportunity to create something not only attractive but as a place where aspects of the aims of the Society could be practically achieved.

As you enter from the Main Street in Antrim’s Conservation area you are immediately struck by the fine mature Birch tree with its’ impressive girth casting dappled shade over the lower reaches of the garden. Beyond the buildings, a central grassed area is surrounded by deep borders with four brick edged beds at the upper end for vegetables and shrubby fruit.

The borders are at their peak in July when a cornucopia of colour and form look most attractive but there is something for every season. Currently in the shaded area varieties of Dryopteris and Polystichum look handsome and Helleborus foetidus has made a fine clump with Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ and Pulmonaria ‘ Blake’s Silver’ giving contrast and form.



A particularly successful introduction has been a trio of Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’ which give a smart vertical and of course wonderful berries and autumnal colour. Agapanthus, penstemons, iris in variety, acanthus, dierama, paeonies, crocosmia, geum, narcissi, tulips, potentilla, chaenomeles, hydrangea, parthenocissus, geraniums, phlox, cornus, buddleia, hesperantha, and a veritable host of other delights furnish the garden. Impressive is the number of Irish cultivars or those plants with an Irish association.


The aim is to consolidate and increase this over time. Many plants have been donated by members of the Society with particular gems being provided by Maeve Bell, Peter Milligan, Billy McCone and Brian Duncan, amongst others.

Apple trees, all Irish cultivars, are espaliered against a south facing wall together with gooseberries and currently cabbage, peas, beans of various forms, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, rhubarb, potatoes, black currants and parsley are establishing themselves in the vegetable plots.

Diane Sprules checking on the vegetable crop

Life is not without its’ challenges. The soil is poor and maintaining a watering regime is challenging at times. The site since Covid-19 has remained inaccessible to the general public, but plans are afoot to address this. On the positive front, the Council’s official, Philip Magennis is unfailingly helpful and supportive and a team of seasoned volunteers travel not inconsiderable distances to work throughout the growing season each Friday morning.

More help from IGPS members would unquestionably be of benefit so to ensure this lovely little gem of specialised horticultural excellence continues to thrive and delight, so please do consider coming along.

We normally meet on Friday morning, weather permitting and start about 9.30am to 12.30pm. Its all flexible, very relaxed and includes a leisurely coffee break.