Yes, it is practically imperative that we move forward in a positive and buoyant manner. It is demanded of us to be happy and upbeat but I find all such carry-on just too energetic. However, I am happy and delighted with news of progress in a project in which I am involved.

Galanthus 'Longraigue' from Shevaun Doherty
Galanthus ‘Longraigue’ – a preparatory study by Shevaun Doherty 

The Irish Garden Plant Society and the Irish Society of Botanical Artists are collaborating in a project on Irish garden plants under the working title, Plandaí Oidhreachta: Heritage Plants. Over sixty such plants, garden plants which originated in Ireland, have been selected and will be painted by the members of the ISBA. The resulting paintings will be shown in an exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin in autumn of this year while a book with contributions from a number of authors on various groups or aspects of Irish garden plants, illustrated by the work of the artists, will be launched at the same time. I have seen a number of the completed works as well as preparatory work for others and know that this will be a wonderful exhibition and a most beautiful promotion for Irish plants.

Snowdrops are a particular interest of mine and I was delighted that a number will be included in the work – and I have sent bulbs to a number of artists and am especially looking forward to seeing these completed works. I have been able to peep over the shoulder, so to speak, of Shevaun Doherty who is painting two snowdrops from my garden and what has surprised me hugely – apart from the amazing beauty of her work -is the amount of preparatory work which is done long before the painting itself is even started. There are sketches of the flower and foliage from every angle, painting studies to pinpoint the best mixture of colours to achieve a faithful representation of the flower and, especially so with snowdrops, the challenge of painting a mainly white flower on white paper. I have no doubt that I have not adequately described the process but I have been so very impressed by the time and preparation which is put into capturing the character of the plant and then planning a composition which will best show that. While Shevaun is painting Galanthus ‘Longraigue’ and Galanthus ‘Lady Moore ‘while  Galanthus ‘Kildare’, ‘The Whopper’, ‘Cicely Hall, and ‘Ruby Baker’ have travelled to other hands.

Galanthus 'Cicely Hall'  (10)
Galanthus ‘Cicely Hall’, perhaps the  most beautiful of all Irish snowdrops and named to remember Mrs. Cicely Hall of Primrose Hill in Lucan, Co. Dublin by her son Robin who continues their flair and enthusiasm for growing snowdrops 


Galanthus 'Ruby Baker'  (1)
Galanthus ‘Ruby Baker’ which originate at Primrose Hill in Lucan, Co. Dublin, the garden of Robin Hall and named by him for the English snowdrop enthusiast, Ruby Baker. 
Galanthus ‘Kildare’ which was found by Ruby Baker, mentioned above,  in Co. Kildare
Galanthus 'The Whopper'  (1)
Galanthus ‘The Whopper’, another snowdrop from Robin Hall’s garden at Primrose Hill. one of several excellent snowdrops of this style which they grew from seed. 
Galanthus 'Lady Moore' (2)
Galanthus ‘Lady Moore’ remembers one of Ireland’s great gardeners, Phylis Lady Moore wife of Sir Frederick Moore, Keeper of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin

There will be an opportunity to place a pre-publication order for the book in late spring/early summer and I will post a notice of this at the time. In the meantime I will leave you with photographs of the snowdrops which will feature and recommend you watch out for this book and exhibition.

Paddy Tobin

To find out more about the Irish Garden Plant Society visit our website or follow us on Facebook