Dear IGPS member

Welcome to the month of May, full of promise and one of the most uplifting months of the year for a gardener. We hope you all received your copy of the Newsletter recently and enjoyed reading at least some of the articles.

If by any chance you did not receive your Newsletter, please get in touch right away by emailing

Date for your Diary

Remember that the AGM will be online this year so get ready to Zoom on Wednesday 26thMay at 8pm. The formal notice appears on page 4 of your Newsletter. You will see that there are vacancies for the position of Chairman, Hon Sec and Treasurer – no-one is waiting in the wings or already been nominated so volunteers for these positions, and also to join our committees, are urgently needed. With the majority of committee meetings likely to move online, the need for travel is hugely reduced. Please either email (see above) or telephone Billy McCone, the out-going Chair, or Mary Forrest, the Vice Chair, if you think you can help. Billy can be contacted on 0044 7411 244 568 and Mary in the evenings on 00353 1298 5099.

Narcissus ‘Foundling’ – an Irish daffodil
Narcissus ‘Foundling’ is a delightful, small pink-cupped daffodil which holds an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) but has disappeared from the lists of commercial suppliers in Britain and Ireland. The Society was concerned that it might join the list of ‘lost’ plants so last autumn with the help of Brian Duncan, our Honorary Member and notable daffodil breeder in Co Tyrone, we obtained some bulbs from Holland. On reading this in the Newsletter, Lesley Fennell got in touch with the good news that it was going strong in her garden at Burtown House. Are any other members growing it? If so please send an email and let us know.

Lesley writes:
Here are some spring photos from Burtown House.
The first one is Narcissus ‘“Foundling’ (above). I have several good clumps of this and can share a few to get it into a couple of other gardens. As you know it was introduced by Kate Reade, [of Carncairn Daffodils in Co Antrim who was an Honorary Member of the IGPS] who also named one of hers after my mother [the highly regarded botanical artist Wendy Walsh, also an Honorary Member]; the photo below is N. ‘Wendy Walsh’ and not dissimilar, but the cup is paler and slightly more yellow. ‘Wendy Walsh’ is also in one of the other photos. I love the spring garden – we have a lot of daffodil varieties, mostly old ones; down in the woodland it has been wonderful since January with huge displays of aconites and snowdrops. In fact a lot of different spring bulbs all growing together. Such a hopeful time of year, although the cold frosts didn’t help. Even the Trilliums are really beginning to spread now. ‘Foundling’ was a favourite of my mother’s, which is probably why I have quite a lot of it.
Lesley also asks for help.
I have a request if possible! I think I have lost my lovely Paeonia ‘Obovata Alba’, which is one of my two all time favourite peonies. I wonder if anyone knows where I can get it again, or anyone has one for sale, or even if anyone has a seed of it when the time comes? I would be most grateful.
Our special guest contributor, Carl Wright, creator of the acclaimed Caher Bridge Garden in the Burren, has written about his desire to conserve some Irish daffodils.
Carl writes:
I love my lawns, which is a good job as I have almost an acre of them now and am currently in the process of creating another one! I see my lawns as walk-on flower beds, full of colour, texture and interest, not a boring monoculture of grass. They are an excuse to plant more and more bulbs each year making them even more interesting and enjoyable throughout the year. It was this goal that lead to my decision to start a collection of daffodils, not just any old daffodils but a specific collection of Irish-bred plants. I started about six years ago with a small selection of bulbs from Ringhaddy Daffodils in Co Down. They performed well in my less than ideal conditions here in the Burren, they stimulated a lot of interest among early visitors to the garden and set me on a slippery slope to addiction. Since then, I have planted over three thousand bulbs made up of almost two hundred different cultivars.

In the past Ireland had a rich history in daffodil breeding which has sadly declined in recent times with only a few commercial breeders remaining. Thousands of beautiful cultivars have been lost forever so I hope by establishing a small collection here that I can preserve at least a few for the future.

Spring bursting out all over
Kirsten Walker who runs Sedum and Sage in Co Meath also has recommendations for the spring garden and also sounds a positive note for the local nursery business.
I love all the early/woodland perennials because they add so much colour and lushness to the spring garden. Among those looking at their best right now are epimediums, dicentras, primulas, astilbes, Corydalis elata and Vinca atropurpurea. Oddly enough the various lockdowns haven’t affected the business very much except in a positive way. The demand for plants has never been greater as people seem to have taken to gardening with more enthusiasm than ever before. It seems to be a good time to be an Irish nursery; people have more time to garden, the weather has been nearly perfect, while Brexit has made it harder to source plants from Britain. Hopefully with lockdown restrictions starting to lift, we will soon be able to visit gardens and see the fruits of everyone’s labours!
Edith Brosnan from Co Wexford gives us a peep into her beautiful spring garden. 
I love to collect plants and have done so for many years! My reasons for choosing plants are a bit random, often just a name I like or because I haven’t come across the plant previously! As I wander in the garden I am reminded of many things, of people, places, and adventures.
Every season has its own favourites; these are just a few current ones.
Wild Cherry
I will start with something that we inherited when we bought this site. There is a short length of an old ditch runs through part of the garden. It is made up of hawthorn, blackthorn, holly, ivy and wild cherry. We never eat the fruit of the latter as the birds devour them well before they are ripe. However, we can enjoy the blossom which is looking particularly well this year.
Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’
This is one of my favourite acers. As you might suspect from the name, the foliage is similar to Aconitum – monkshood – but is, of course, totally unrelated. But look at the new foliage emerging pale green edged with a pinkish hue and the flowers hang in dark red clusters. As the season progresses, the leaves take on a pure acid green shade and then in autumn there are shades of red and orange as the season declines. Even in winter the tracery of the bare stems has a beauty of its own.

As with most maples it likes a little shelter from harsh winds. It is perfectly hardy coming through the winter of 2010 without blemish. The first garden I remember seeing it in was in Altamont. Corona North had it planted close to the house so I knew it had to be worthwhile. Looking it up to check spelling, I see it referred to as “Full Moon Maple”; I have no idea why. Lace leaf or fern leaf maple would be more understandable.
Insert photo of Acer

Veratrum album 
I think this is one of the best foliage plants at this time of year.  If you look closely at the leaves, you might think that a talented seamstress has been busy pleating them. Unfortunately, some leaves can emerge with the tips looking chewed. I assume slugs but I believe all parts of the plant are poisonous. The clump has bulked up slowly – possibly as I am quite mean about feeding plants! This one is about 23 years old. Maybe the soil is a bit dry but it is deep and retentive. I age it on the basis of knowing I saw a relative of V. albumemerging from snow melt on a mountainside in British Columbia in 2000; it was V. viride I think. Anyway, early this year we decided to try spreading its delights and the division seems to be happily settling in. The tall spikes of whitish flowers appear in summer, I think of them as interesting rather than beautiful!
Tulipa humilis
I love tulips of all types and I am certainly not in the ‘treat them as annuals’ brigade. I plant my tulips deeply and I see what comes back next year. I know there are bulbs still blooming that I first planted in 2000. There are only a few left now but every one counts. However, species tulips are a real delight as they multiply. I bought a few bulbs of T. aucheriana which I believe should be called T. humilis (anyway that is much easier to say). I have divided these bulbs several times and given some away and they keep on going. When they open in the sunshine, you can see into the throat with its black centre tinged with an edge of blue and then a white border. Less than 6 inches high they don’t last in bloom very long but they are such a delight. Who wouldn’t have space for them? I must make an effort to source more species.

I have no name for this one. I can’t say I raised it from seed but I did raise it from a tiny seedling. In the early to mid-90s, Jeff Michael from JFK Arboretum in New Ross had some trays of seedling surplus to requirements which he offered to some members of Co Wexford Garden & Flower Club. They really were tiny, about 1-2cm at most! Not many members felt they could look after them sufficiently. However, I felt there was nothing to lose by trying. I had huge losses if you count that I started out with maybe hundreds of seedlings but I did manage to grow seven to maturity. Sadly, one of these has since died. It was the biggest and most magnificent and I was delighted to show a photo of it to Jeff when I last met him at the Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group outing in JFK in 2019. The remainder of the seedlings were passed on to Corona North but I don’t know if she succeeded with growing any.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing a few of my spring delights!

Earlier this year Debbie Bailey reported that there had been a record number of requests for seed donated to our Seed Scheme. Christine Linehan from Co Cork has been busy sowing and growing.

There isn’t anything more satisfying in the gardening world than watching seeds germinate, grow into mature plants and bear flowers or fruit. When it comes to growing plants from seed I would still call myself a novice but, having finally built a glasshouse during the first lockdown, it opened up all sorts of opportunities and so another passion grew from there.

Both this spring and the one before I received twenty small brown seed packets, neatly numbered according to the plant list sent out to us earlier and the first thing I did was write the plant names on the envelopes and all sowing instructions on the back ( the internet was a great help researching all different sowing requirements). I asked for a mix of seeds ranging from easy to grow biennials like Lunaria or Digitalis which germinate within a few weeks to a more long term investment like Cardiocrinum giganteum. I like a challenge and wanted to try some more unusual perennials as well which aren’t easily sourced in or through your local garden centre.

In for a long wait: Cardiocrinum giganteum (image above left)

After filling seed tray after seed tray, they went into different environments to promote germination, subsequently turning my bedroom into a mini nursery and the glass house into a giant cold frame while some trays were just left outside in a sheltered corner of the garden. A few seeds I sowed a year ago are finally showing signs of life like Iris setosa, Asphodeline lutea and Lilium leucanthemum.

Asphodeline lutea after spending a year in this seed tray outside (image above right)


Other seeds of Linaria purpurea ‘Canon Went’ and Digitalis lutea, sown last September, have already been planted out and will hopefully bloom later this summer.(image above left)
The award for the weirdest seed grown last year definitely goes to Ornithogalum longibracteatum also described as a Pregnant Onion which, to be fair, didn’t come as a seed but tiny bulbils and grew with a 100% success rate into these rather curious bulbous plants with long flowering spikes. (image above right)

Whatever you decide to grow, patience will pay off in the end and a lesson I learned is never to throw out a seed tray even if it looks deserted and empty. You will be surprised what pops up if you wait

Need more bulbs for next year?
Our members Dave and Jules Hardy run Esker Farm Daffodils in Co Tyrone. Jules tells us that, due to Brexit and other restrictions, they have a selection of tulips, crocus, muscari, and some other bulbs available at excellent prices to customers on the island of Ireland only. Check out their website Jules also recommends the species daffs like the N. poeticus var. helenicus in the photo which are late flowering and good value for the gardener.

Come and join us; it’s fun. The last bulletin reported that we are looking for someone to come and join the team. We still are! All you need are basic word processing skills and lots of enthusiasm for sharing information and being in touch with members. Please contact us at

As restrictions lift, we all look forward to getting out and about and meeting up again. On behalf of the officers and all our committees, best wishes until we meet again, stay safe and good gardening.

Branka and Maeve

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