Dear IGPS member
Here we are in the first few days of ‘flaming June’ enjoying sunshine and warmth. After one of the coldest months of May on record, what a treat!
The committee sends its thanks to all the members who signed on for the online AGM, the 39th due to the gap caused by Covid even though we are about to enter our 40th year,  on Wednesday 26th May. A far cry from our usual convivial weekend, it nonetheless gave the opportunity for a review of the year, a farewell address by the outgoing Chairman Billy McCone, and the election of several new officers and committee members.
Taking the Society forward will be
Mary Forrest – Chairman
Aine Marie Ni Mhurchu and Caroline Maher – joint Honorary Secretaries
David Grayson – Treasurer
Nichola Monk continues as Membership Secretary; the new regional reps are Breda Cummins (Leinster), Margaret McAuliffe (Munster) and Billy McCone (Northern) while Stephen Butler and Brid Kelleher continue on the Committee.
Once the elections were over, Seamus O’Brien treated us to a brilliant talk on the National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh tracing its history from its earliest records, through its heyday in the ownership of the talented and well-connected Acton family, its long, sad decline after WW1, and its recent renaissance as part of the National Botanic Gardens.



Urgent – We need you!
In recent bulletins we said that we were looking for someone to come and join the team as Maeve is stepping back to concentrate on the Newsletter.  Not a squeak of a volunteer so far so we are still looking! It is now serious. 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 or text/phone Branka on +353 86 086 4595 or Maeve on +44 7713 739482. And we need more contributors.  Photos, short articles and snippets of information are always in demand: please remember to send your photos as jpeg attachments to an email rather than in the text as this makes compilation much easier. Send them to the above email or to
Visit to Kilmacrew, Co Down
Glorious sunny weather added to the enjoyment of members who visited the Robinsonian garden at Kilmacrew House, tucked away in the rolling drumlin countryside of Co Down on Saturday 29th May. Two of the 60 members who visited over the morning and afternoon were Ivan and Doreen Wilson.
Doreen has captured her impressions and shared them with us:
Approaching Kilmacrew House along the narrow laneways threading through the drumlins of Co Down there are no clues as to what to expect – it is a truly secret garden. Hidden behind a thick, mature shelter belt of native trees lies a four acre ornamental garden which delights at every turn and poses numerous queries for those gardeners who enjoy identifying different varieties of trees and shrubs.

Our group gathered at the front of the square grey farmhouse to hear the owner, Louise, give a brief history of how she, a New Zealander, came to be the owner of this little-known garden. Originally the farm belonged to her great aunt and uncle and it was they who were responsible for the majority of the planting that is present.  Louise inherited the farm – what an inheritance! – in 2006 and, as she described the state of the garden when she came to live there, we were full of admiration for her resolve. Someone less resourceful would probably have sold up and gone home but Louise was determined to ‘to see what was there’. With very limited and sporadic help, Louise discovered hidden paths, shrubs hidden by overgrown neighbouring shrubs, and trees that had fallen over and into each other with old age. Most of the garden had been planted in the mid 1960s and catalogues from Hilliers and other major nurseries show that the creators of this garden were determined to plant the best that was available.

But before we set off to explore, Dr Robert Logan gave a short and interesting talk on the significance of the blue Ulster History Circle plaque which adorns the front of the house. It commemorates the life of Helen Waddell (1889 – 1965), the Ulster writer, poet and playwright, who was a frequent visitor here. She was born in Tokyo where her father was a Presbyterian missionary and she was eleven years old when the family returned to Belfast. Helen graduated from Queen’s University in English Literature but spent much of her time travelling the world and working. But Kilmacrew was her base whenever she returned to Northern Ireland as it was the home of her sister and brother-in-law. She loved the garden and used its setting and ambiance in her story-telling. In her words, Kilmacrew was the ‘type of place where no one knows the time of month or what the gold standard is’. Wandering around the garden on such a warm, sunny afternoon as we did, it was easy to understand why.

Setting off to follow the map and suggested route we stopped to admire a group of enormous hostas in perfect condition; obviously the slugs have plenty of alternatives or maybe they haven’t a head for heights like these! Nearby was a handsome dark red tree peony in full bloom but no name could be suggested. There were numerous white blossoms on the venerable Snowdrop tree, Halesia monticola, providing a contrast to the reds and pinks of the rhododendrons. With time and observation many of the rhododendrons could probably be identified from the annotated catalogues left by the original enthusiastic gardeners. Further on we spotted several different magnolias, Magnolia wilsonniiM. campbellii and a lovely stellata. Standing proudly in the middle of the garden is a magnificent Wellingtonia, but there were many other shrubs which had reached a size and maturity that is rarely seen in a garden nowadays.

There are several natural rocky outcrops throughout the garden and in one area a small pond had been formed, home to a family of newts who quite possibly have been resident here for several generations. The surrounding trees provided shelter for the pink blooms on the deutzia and lilacs, preserving the blossom for longer, while the skunk cabbage lining the small stream were the largest and most upright seen for a long time!  Returning to the farmyard there was an interesting small tree which I didn’t have time to identify – was it an Acacia or an overgrown Albizia?  Definitely I will have to return to confirm.

Dates for your Diary
Sorry but the gremlins got at some of the dates in the previous bulletin (many thanks to the kind member who alerted us to this) so please note the correct dates below:
Saturday 12th June: Click and Collect plant sale with collection at Richmond Park, Belfast – thank you to all who ordered, one order even coming from as far away as Co Wexford. You will have been notified about the time to come to collect your plants. Information about how much has been raised will follow in a future bulletin but at this stage it is looking good.

Saturday 19th June: visit to Greba Gardens, Carrowdore Road, Greyabey Co Down a separate email about booking has gone out.

Saturday 24th July: visit to Ballywalter Park, Ballywalter, Co Down

Saturday 21st August: visit to Fernhill Cottage, Spa, Ballynahinch, Co Down (please note the correct date)

Sunday 17th October: Plant Sale at the Church of the Guardian Angels Parish Centre, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin
(please note the correct date)

Government guidance together with the wishes of the owners mean that most if not all the visits will have to be pre-booked. Keep a sharp eye out for emails. As restrictions lift, we hope to let you know about more visits and activities but please bear with us as there is still a lot of uncertainty.

Greba Gardens; This is an IGPS members only event and tickets will be available to book on Eventbrite on Tuesday 8th June at 9.00 a.m.

The url link to the event page on Eventbrite where tickets can be booked is:


As seen on the BBC NI programme “Greatest Gardens”, this three acre garden is on a reclaimed quarry
with natural woodland ponds and small bridges. Meandering moss paths lead to different areas.

The gardens have been developed while trying to retain the natural landscape.
There are many viewing areas located within the gardens. In early summer Waterlilies, Iris, Ferns,
Rhododendrons and Acers come to the fore.

Please be advised that stout footwear is required as this is very much a woodland garden.
Please note that surfaces may be slippery after rain.
Unfortunately the garden is not wheelchair friendly and it is not fully accessible to those with limited mobility.

Organiser’s contact details:

Margaret McAuliffe who chairs the Munster regional committee grows a wonderful collection of spring-flowering shrubs including rhododendrons and has shared some of her favourites below.
From top left;
Rh. Markeeta’s Prize; Rh. Percy Wiseman
Rh. Marcel Menard; Rh. Nancy Evans
Rh. Irene Koster: Rh. AZ. Luteum.
Alannah Sheehan, who recently joined us from Co Cork, got in touch to say that she is a member of the prestigious West Cork Garden Trail and would be delighted to welcome members to her garden near Kinsale. Like Margaret’s, her garden features rhododendrons.

Alannah writes: My garden, Kinalea, is a one acre, mature, 36 year old garden with a nice collection of trees, shrubs, and flowers; there is a rockery scree and a sunken patio.  I’m located on road to Kinsale just up from Innishannon village.  I also have plants for sale, and do teas and coffees. A few years ago the garden was featured in The Irish Garden magazine.

Membership News from Nichola Monk
Thank you very much everyone for paying your membership. Direct debits are gaining popularity, nearly 50% of the membership is now by Direct Debit. I am also very happy to see cheques falling through my letterbox.
There are still 75 members who have not renewed this year. I would love to hear from you, even if it is to say that you no longer wish to continue with your IGPS membership. At present there are 558 members, this includes the 75 who are now overdue.
At the moment people who haven’t paid since 2019 receive this Ebulletin. At the end of July those people will no longer receive the Ebulletin.
Also the special 10% discount for Direct Debits will be finishing at the end of July.
If your subscription is due you will have received a reminder email in April and in May from with details of how to pay by Direct Debit. (Check your spam box: it could possibly have ended up there). 
If these communications have gone astray, please do give me a ring +44 7828 434 350 or send me an email to the above address and I can provide you with any information you need and or resend the reminder email.
Our preferred method of payment is by online Direct Debit but you can also pay by cheque, cash and postal order in euro and sterling.

Subscription Rates

Euros DD Save 10%* until the end of July
One Adult €30 €27
Joint for 2 members €42 €38
Student (full time) €15.50 €14
Sterling DD Save 10%* until the end of July
One adult £25 £23
Joint for 2 members £36 £32
Student (full tme) £13 £12
*rounded up/down
Thank you very much to everyone who has been in touch with pictures, articles and information. Please keep them coming to  they bring pleasure to a lot of members.
With restrictions lifting, we all look forward to getting out and about and meeting up again. In the meantime, best wishes, stay safe and good gardening.

Branka and Maeve