Dear member
Welcome to a September edition of the ebulletin.
This summer has provided plenty go good weather and, in comparison to last year, many welcome opportunities for us all to enjoy some garden visits. This issue of the ebulletin will share with you some reports, made by members, after enjoying some of the organised IGPS events as well as some other interesting contributions and news.

From Adrian Walsh
IGPS visit to Ballywalter Park, County Down, 24th July 2021.

A sunny day with temperatures in the mid to high twenties combined with a cooling fresh breeze was perfect for the IGPS visit to Ballywalter Park, hosted by Lord and Lady Dunleath.
Andrew Mulholland, the first Lord Dunleath, planted the thirty acres of pleasure grounds with around 95,000 trees and shrubs in the mid-1840’s.  The magnificent mature trees and shrubs that remain in the parkland frame the house from all angles. There have been some losses in recent years (e.g. a mature Pinus radiata) but more recent additions such as a small stand of Swedish birch (Betula pendula subsp. pendula ‘Laciniata’also known as Betula Pendula subsp. pendula Dalecarlica’) complement the older planting in other parts of the parkland.
The parkland also contains bridged steams, a lake, rockery and water garden, the whole effect giving the sense of a natural landscape that was there long before the first house was built.

The architect Charles Lanyon extended the older house adding two bow wings and a new third top floor which were completed in 1852. Of particular note inside is the inspired mix of older furniture, paintings and sculpture with mid-20th century and modern Danish lighting, furniture and furnishings. Floral arrangements (picked from a long cutting border, formerly a much wider herbaceous border, and the walled garden) dressed the rooms and added to the very homely and welcoming ambience.
The walled garden is a 2.8 acre plot containing a long central pergola, under-planted with perennials, annuals and roses, which leads to a large glasshouse. Behind this are other renovated glass houses against the back wall of the garden.
Areas of the walled garden have been left to develop as grass and wildflower meadow, while a selection of fruit trees (quince, medlar and apple) occupy other areas. The former rose garden will be reinstated in the walled garden, some older varieties still growing on the pergola.
Refreshments were served in the conservatory, a restored Lanyon design originally added in 1863, and taken outside to enjoy on a terrace in the glorious weather.
The visit was very much enhanced by the generosity of the hosts in sharing their knowledge and anecdotes about the past and present story of the estate in such an interesting and frank manner.
From Barbara Kelso
Welcome rain for my garden!
I live in Greenisland, a village on the east coast of County Antrim. Recently on 27th July I took a photo of the planting which surrounds my patio within my garden as it had started to rain, the first my garden had seen in 10 weeks! The rain was most welcome, especially after a period of very hot and glorious sunny weather.
The lovely double pink rose trained along the garage wall is called Rosa ‘Sommermorgen’ and a purple flowering Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ weaves it way throughout the rose.

To the right of the photo is the tall pink long-flowering Diascia personata which is scrambling through an evergreen Australian fuchsia shrub Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’.

On the left hand side of the picture is Yucca filamentosa, which has a flower spike of exotic white bells and creates an eye-catching focal point. Behind this is a tall Sciadopitys verticillata, the umbrella pine growing in a large pot. Planted in the border a silver-leaved Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ grows at the base of a contrasting purple-leaved Continus ‘Grace’. The yellow daisy flowers belong to the very long flowering perennial Argyranthemum ‘Jamaica Primrose’ along side the equally long blue flowering Geranium ‘Rozanne’, my favourite of all the geraniums. Beside these an Irish cultivar plant, Agapanthus ‘Slieve Donard’ is just about to come into flower.

There are a large variety of plants in the borders and pots, giving lots of colour and interest throughout the year.

From Mary Montaut,
Visit to Kilgar Gardens, County Meath, 14th August 2021

The intrepid gardeners in IGPS Leinster were not deterred by the rainy, dull weather from going to visit a very special garden in Co. Meath.   In fact, if anything, the dreary and disappointing weather increased their enjoyment, because the colours and beautiful contrasting shapes in the garden were all the more vibrant.  The extraordinary copper edging of the pond (see Photo above) is a good example of the original and attractive use of materials by Paula Byrne, in creating this comparatively new garden.

Paula has designed a series of distinct garden ‘rooms’ around the house.  Each has a particular character, and visitors will doubtless choose between them for their favourites.  I specially liked the way in which she included tiny gardens in tubs and buckets, stuffed with sempervivums and echevirias of all sorts.    I asked Paula how she kept them so happy in our damp climate, and she pointed out the very sharp potting compost keeping their fleshy leaves above the level at which they could so easily rot – and also, helping to deter the slugs, of course.

The gardens are mostly formal, with lots of well-clipped box hedging to express the design.  This works very well in a young garden, where perhaps the larger trees and shrubs have not yet begun to make their presence strongly felt. It would be very interesting to see how the garden has developed in perhaps five or six years’ time. The group enjoyed the gardens, in spite of the rain, but the cup of coffee and home-made scones  in the house was most welcome, to close our visit.

From Doreen Wilson
Fernhill Cottage Garden

Members were treated to a smorgasbord  of horticultural  delights  on their recent visit to Fernhill, a three and a half acre garden nestled in the countryside outside Ballynahinch, Co Down.

Fernhill isn’t exactly new; the old bungalow and three fields were bought by the owners nine years ago but what an exciting development has taken place since then. There has been a stylish updating of the house and driveway, but it was the garden we came to see and what a delight. Thomas number 1 is the horticultural perfectionist, researching every plant and its requirements while Thomas number 2 is the artistic and creative landscaper or, as Thomas 1 remarked, ‘the vocal critic’. Whatever the truth, between them they have created a garden, a landscape that delights, intrigues and satisfies.

The large central bed in front of the house was their first creation and, like many of us in our early gardening days, it grew as new plants were acquired and placed wherever a space could be found for them. At our visit, on the turn of cooler, shorter days the central bed was a riot of yellows, gold, orange and reds, from the various crocosmias, including the brilliant Crocosmia ’Hellfire’, and a stand-out,stunning red Hemerocallis ‘Pirates of Penzance’. A six foot high stand of Lilium henryii with its orange flowers speckled browny-black inside helped provide the juxtaposing of colour and form which would have delighted the late Christopher Lloyd. It certainly delighted us.


Moving round the side of the bungalow one passed the makings of a white bed filled with sturdy white agapanthus and Japanese anemones and a misty view towards the Mourne mountains. The top lawn has various beds which the Thomass’ are trying to allocate to certain genus. There is a raised succulent bed surrounding an elderly beech tree and a long bed of grasses, including Imperata and Pennisetum, some of their colours coordinating with a metal sculpture designed by Thomas2 and made locally. Moving up the side of the poultry run (yes, real live chickens not metal effigies!), there is a double herbaceous border filled with phlox, aconitums, and, in season, peonies. One of the newer beds is a crevasse bed, the rockery on its side as one gardener described it. It is yet to be planted up but there were plenty of suggestions from the alpine enthusiasts in our group. This area of the garden is bounded on two sides by some of the original old buildings, one block is painted in the original farmhouse colours of whitewash and red paint and the other block decorated in a stylish matt black with multi-coloured doors — lime green, fuchsia pink and lemon drops!

Along the back of the property is the remains of an old shelter belt of firs and conifers. They have been trimmed, crowns lifted and woodland planting is taking place with rhododendrons, lots of hostas and some new rare shrubs. The remaining field undergoing development has a large circular pool, there is an area marked out for food production, a beautiful run of five large compost bins ( complete with roofs!) and an area for three bee hives. The hives were painted in a gorgeous array of colours and we wondered did the bees recognise their own coloured hive.


This duo aren’t afraid to dig up, move plants around or, as Thomas 1 remarked ‘if they don’t perform they get sent to the thugs bed’. There is so much to see at Fernhill, this is only a skim over our visit and it definitely leaves one wanting to see how the garden develops in the future.

Dates for your Diary
The Committee has decided that the winter lecture programme should move online via Zoom due to uncertainties about the availability of venues and in-person meetings. Our thanks to the regional committees who have put together the following programme of events and our apologies to any member who does not have access to the internet.

Wednesday 13th October 2021 at 8.00pm
Pollinators in Your Garden
with Mary Montaut

All flowering plants have pollen for reproduction: the pollinators — a buzz word in gardening at the moment — which move about the garden enable the plants
effectively to find mates which are vital to the health and survival of the plant
population. Mary will talk about the ‘Big Four’ insect pollinators, and also about physical forces like wind and rain which can enable plants to find partners for reproduction.

Mary Montaut loves plants and bees equally.  She edited the Beekeeping
journal, An Beachaire, for nine years, and has been a member of the IGPS
for much longer than that. She lives and gardens in Bray, Co. Wicklow where the photographs were taken.

Friday 15 October 2021 at 8.00pm
The Artist as a Gardener 
with Steven Desmond

Down the ages many artists have combined their achievements on canvas with an equal interest in making and cultivating a garden. This talk looks at a number of outstanding artist-gardeners in the 19th and 20thcenturies, finishing with the incomparable Claude Monet who said himself that he was good for two things — painting and gardening.

Steven Desmond is a Professional Associate of the Royal Horticultural Society. He is a landscape consultant specializing in the conservation and management of historic gardens, and regularly writes for journals including Country Life Magazine. Steven is the author of Gardens of the Italian Lakes, published in 2016, leads specialist tours, and is a regular lecturer with the Arts Society.

Monday 15th November 2020 at 8.00pm
The Grand Tour 
with Stephen Butler

An eclectic journey around Europe spotting mainly plants. Opportunities arose during many zoo conference trips to various countries to visit gardens. This is a pictorial visit to many gardens or national parks in Budapest, Berlin, Arnhem, Rome, Barcelona, Bristol,  and Wroclaw picking out the interesting plant or the interesting story to go with it.

Kew-trained Stephen is well known to many IGPS members. He was Curator of Horticulture at Dublin Zoo for 34 years until 2018 having worked in Bangladesh before settling in Dublin. He has been involved with the Irish Heritage Plants project for almost as long. Many members will have come in contact with Stephen though our Seed Scheme which he organised for many years.

A piece by Stephen Butler
‘Items of Interest, or The Grand Tour’ – an eclectic journey around Europe spotting mainly plants.
For the past 25 years European zoos have organised horticultural conferences, often themed around the particular issues of gardening within a zoo – a varied and always interesting conference, usually for 3 days. Topics varied from alien invasive species threats, biological controls, computerised record systems, sustainability in zoo horticulture, unusual plant uses, and of course delegates could talk a little about their own zoo projects, always a popular time seeing what other zoos were up to.
There would be time for a guided tour of the host zoo, several lecture sessions, with each day broken up into indoor talks and outdoor walks. Sometimes an evening dinner would also have ‘entertainment’. I well remember the Hungarians had a quiz, which included trying to repeat from memory short sayings – imagine ‘she sells sea shells on the sea shore’ – in Hungarian. They also organised a taste quiz where we had to guess what fruit they had used to make ‘palinka’, sometimes we needed more than one glass to judge properly, and the more we tried the harder it became… For many European cities there was also the chance to see other zoos while there – in Germany 3 zoos could be seen in a day with short coach trips between, a high population can sustain more visitor attractions. Often there was time before, and more frequently after, each conference for other garden visits – most zoos were in capital cities, and often there was a botanic garden nearby, sometimes more than one if a university was there too.
I have been fortunate to attend many of these conferences and visited gardens nearby, including in Arnhem, Barcelona, Berlin, Bristol, Budapest, Llanarthney, Nuremberg, Rome, Wroclaw, and Zurich. Everywhere has different climates – central Europe with colder winters cannot grow many of the garden plants we take for granted, southern Europe of course can grow almost anything with irrigation. The other gardeners’ grass was not always greener, but often very interesting!
So, with European travel not on many peoples’ agenda for the past 2 years, here is a wee tour, mainly looking at nice plants.
Plant Heritage notes
Early this year Plant Heritage held a threatened plant of the year competition, looking for rarity and a story behind the plant of how or where it was found – or maybe found again! There was also a public vote competition, the winner of which, decided by votes on the Plant Heritage website, was Aspidistra lurida ‘Irish Mist’. Grown by Philip Oostenbrink in Kent, where he has several National Collections, of Aspidistra elatior and A. sichuanensis, variegated and yellow leaved ConvallariaHakonechloa macra, and Ophiopogon japonicus. He has a passion for variegated plants!
Aspidistra elatior ‘Irish Mist’ was named at NBG Glasnevin in 1990, but had been growing there for many years without a cultivar name. Also listed in the competition was Kniphofia ‘Goldfinch’, raised at the Slieve Donard Nursery before 1964. Info as ever from ‘A Heritage of Beauty’ The Garden Plants of Ireland by E. Charles Nelson.
Great to see Irish plants well represented – and this was all organised well before we applied for the National Collection of Irish Heritage Plants too!

More information at: Threatened Plant of the Year 2021 winners (

Stephen Butler
Irish Heritage Plants Coordinator

Membership News from Nichola Monk
We have 33 new members this year since May which brings the total to 552 and the really good news is that it is only a tiny minority of 33 that haven’t as yet renewed their membership this year. Last year at this time it was closer to 80, which is very encouraging.
There have been some problems with about a dozen Eircom email addresses failing. I have contacted everybody and I hope that everything is now sorted and no one will miss out on all the news updates that Branka sends out.
There is a Newsletter due very soon. Anyone who has not yet paid will unfortunately not receive it, although you will continue to receive the Ebulletin until next May.
Please do get in touch if you have any queries about membership.

So we close this ebulletin with the Autumn Equinox nearly upon us and as we look forward to the change in seasons.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this extensive issue.
As always, we look forward to any items of interest members may wish to share in future issues, either articles or pictures or both.
Please do send them on to us at;

Happy Gardening
from Branka and your fellow IGPS members.