E-Bulletin, Late February

Dear IGPS member,

Welcome to our late February ebulletin.

There has been more very encouraging feedback to the online lectures. Comments about the most recent one by Mike Nelhams, Curator of Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly included:

Enjoyed the lecture. What a garden! Joan
I really enjoyed the virtual visit to Tresco. Peggy
Thank you for another fascinating talk. Pamela
Fabulous lecture. Edel & Paul
On my bucket list to visit. Hilary

At the suggestion of the Munster regional committee, our next lecture;
A Snowdrop Garden will be by our own,
Paddy Tobin on Tuesday 2nd March at 8pm.

Paddy, a well-known and well-respected galanthophile from Co Waterford, has put together a completely new presentation for us. He says his wife Mary appointed him ‘minder of snowdrops’ when the collection grew too big for her!  Be sure and join us to learn more about these exquisite, late winter flowers.
NB The Zoom lectures are for all members regardless of the region where you live. If you have already registered, there is no need to do so again; Nichola will automatically send you the link the day beforehand.
If you are not already registered, just email;
and ask to be added to the list.

This will be followed the following Tuesday evening by a talk by Linda Murphy, a garden designer, this time at the suggestion of the Leinster regional committee. Her talk on;
Garden Design,
on Tuesday 9th March, will also start at 8.00pm
Linda is a keen gardener with an arts background. Having completed a Masters in Landscape Architecture at UCD in 2000, she joined the staff of the Teagasc College of Horticulture in the National Botanic Gardens working  as a lecturer specializing in Design and Plant Materials. She is a very keen gardener and on occasion opens her own garden to the public.

Those of us who joined Rosemary Maye for her excellent talk in January will remember that she introduced us to the concept of certain plants being Better Than Weeds. She shares her thoughts and suggestions below. What are your recommendations? Why not let us know and we’ll circulate a list in a future bulletin.
Better than Weeds
by Rosemary Maye

Better than Weeds is a little known category of plants that I’ve decided to make welcome in my garden. Owning a large garden which is unruly in many places and having despaired on occasions, I discovered that sometimes the rampant spreaders are actually better than weeds. Hence this new category was named in my garden. Previously known under the more civilized title of ground cover, there’s now a long list of creeping plants that I quite like despite their bad behaviour.

Dead nettle does a great job under trees and I hack it back vigorously every year if it attempts to get out of its allocated space. If you choose Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’, it’s not as invasive as its relation Lamium galeobdolan. I also have it planted on a dry bank of subsoil where it’s romping away merrily competing with the ivy which brings me to that other spreader. Ivy colonises banks, flower beds, trees and shrubs with alarming speed, yet if you give it a good prune once a year, it will cover bare ground blocking out even worse things and, in addition, become a home for a variety of wildlife and feed many insects into the bargain.
Japanese anemones grow very happily in some of my borders along with Chinese lanterns and the lovely fringed campion, Silene fimbriata. I allow these to stay for their interest in different seasons and ability to smother anything worse. I frequently confront the insidious creep of Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’ cheekily escaping the confines of the border and trailing all along the gravel. I pot it up to give to friends with the warning that it’s a spreader. You think we’d learn when we read on the label those words that scream “You can’t say we didn’t warn you” or, in gardening terms “Indefinite Spread”. Another plant that heads for the horizon as soon as your back is turned is periwinkle. Oh, I feel a collective shiver but sometimes it really is better than weeds. To quote the wonderful Beth Chatto: the right plant in the right place. I wouldn’t plant it in my borders but it does a great job covering poor bare earth, will grow in sun or shade, is evergreen, and has the bonus of delightful blue flowers in spring and summer. A less invasive and prettier one to plant is Vinca minor ‘Atropurpurea’
 Annuals and biennials that cast their seeds about with no need of any help can also smother weeds. Forget-me-nots cover vast areas in a sea of blue; likewise for the common foxglove, honesty or poppies which seed about my garden, sometimes germinating and thriving happily in most inhospitable ground.


Finally, how about the actual weeds themselves? We’ve all heard the exclamation that a weed is just a flower in the wrong place. Well, we’re back to my hero Beth Chatto again. So, although I’ve loved dandelions ever since I was a child, I just don’t want them in my flower border. Hence the value of the latest welcome trend in gardening: the wild flower meadow. Herb robert, meadowsweet, speedwell, willow herb and Queen Anne’s lace are all welcome in my wild corner. I do wonder if in a few years time I’ll rue the day I let them go wild as seeds being seeds will no doubt spread. The old expression of “one year’s seeding means seven years weeding “ is definitely true. My father would say this as I turned over virgin soil in my new vegetable beds. How right he was; seeds which had lain dormant for hundreds of years germinated. But for now I’ll remember my new motto – better than weeds – and hope my garden won’t descend into a jungle.

Blarney Castle Gardens under their energetic Head Gardener, and IGPS member, Adam Whitbourn go from strength to strength and are well worth a visit once we are able to travel again. Adam made a short video about seasonal developments in the garden which he and our friends in the RHSI have kindly agreed to share with us.
Picture of Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’, at Blarney Castle


March is the month when everything happens in the garden. This year lockdown and the fact that Brexit means many British nurseries are no longer able to supply across the Irish Sea have reduced the opportunities to obtain plants. To assist members the Society has compiled a list – Buying Plants in Ireland – of outlets offering mail order, a great resource.


The direct links to the website and Facebook are at the end of the bulletin.
Suggestions, snippets and photos for inclusion to igps.ireland@gmail.com please. We’d love to hear from you.
Till next time, stay safe and enjoy your garden.
Branka & Maeve