Upcoming Events

Members are eligible to attend events in any part of Ireland, so don’t limit your browsing to your own location. The categorisation by geographic region is for administration and organisational purposes only.

Non-members are very welcome at our events though there will be a charge for insurance purposes. Do come along and join us and, perhaps, become a member. There will be events which will be restricted to members only – perhaps because of the size of the garden and the need to restrict numbers or because this is the wish of the garden owner – and, on these occasions, unfortunately, we cannot accommodate non-members.

We occasionally list events of other groups in the ‘Other Events’ category, generally for groups we regularly work with. These are not part of the official IGPS programme but may be of interest to members.

Managing Threats to Ornamental Trees – Tony Kirkham @ National Botanic Gardens
Oct 6 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

This is the 2016 Annual Lecture of the Irish Tree Society
Managing Threats to Ornamental Trees
Tony Kirkham, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Acer negundo 'Kelly's Gold'

Tony Kirkham has been Head of the Arboretum and Horticultural Services at RBG,
Kew since 2001: he is responsible for the care of c.14,000 trees, some over 300 years
old. Since the devastation of Kew’s tree collection in the Great Storm of October
1987, he has spearheaded its restocking, often using specimens obtained on his
expeditions to Chile and the Far East. During 1989 – 1997 he collected in the speciesrich
temperate forests of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Russian Far East
(Sakhalin). He has written a vivid account of these travels with the late Mark
Flanagan VMH, Plants from the Edge of the World – New Explorations in the Far
East (2005). In the footsteps of distinguished botanical forebears, Tony has visited
Sichuan five times. His book, co-authored with Mark Flanagan, Wilson’s China – A
Century On (2009) provides a lavishly illustrated narrative of the travels in western
China of Ernest H Wilson (who first introduced to cultivation many plants discovered
by Augustine Henry), juxtaposing their own photographs with Wilson’s a century
earlier. Tony has also considerably revised and expanded (2009) G E Brown’s (1974)
classic The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers, considered the ‘Bible’ of woodyplant
pruning. Among many interests, he is a trustee of the Tree Register of Britain
and Ireland with which the Irish Tree Society is closely associated.
Mature ornamental trees face many challenges: climate change, weather (drought,
floods, storms), diseases, human activities (e.g. soil compaction causing root death) –
all leading to growth decline, even mortality. In this lecture, Tony Kirkham will
illustrate how both local environment and management are fundamental to the health
and longevity of trees: knowledge of their natural habitats may guide cultural
practices to mimic them as best as possible.

‘A View from the Palmhouse’ with Matthew Jebb @ Malone House
Dec 6 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
The IGPS are delighted to welcome Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.  
Join us as he shares with us a wide ranging talk about Greek education, plant evolution, the 1801 act of Union, St.Patrick’s flag, Viking agriculture, alien invasive plants and climate change.
Refreshments provided, plant raffle on evening. 
This lecture is in Association with Belfast City Council.
Commemorating Armistice Day at National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh. @ National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh.
Nov 11 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Commemorating  Armistice Day

National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow

November 11th 2018 marks one hundred years since Armistice Day when a hard-won peace reigned over Europe. By the time soldiers were returning to Ireland, almost 50,000 of their fellow countrymen lay buried in distant lands. Many years later, Phylis, Lady Moore, wife of Sir Frederick Moore, Keeper of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, sadly related that after the Great War, ‘many an Irish demesne gate had closed, never to open again.’ It was a time of shocking death duties and with staggering changes of land ownership, as a result of so many casualties. The war meant the loss of an entire generation of young men, many of whom were professional gardeners or owners of large gardens and demesnes.

The three major botanic gardens of Great Britain and Ireland; Edinburgh, Glasnevin and Kew, all suffered badly. It’s said that material coming into this renowned trio, from the great plant hunters of the time, fared badly because many of their most skilled staff had been lost on the European battlefields. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh named a number of newly described species after their war dead, while at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the garden’s war dead are honoured on commemorative plaques in the Temple of Arethusa near the Victoria Gate.

No such memorial exists at Glasnevin, though the Kew plaque carries the name of Private Charles Frederick Ball, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (who had their headquarters in Naas, Co. Kildare). C. F. Ball was Glasnevin’s Assistant Keeper and had formerly worked at Kew. He was killed at Gallipoli in September 1915, aged just 36, and had apparently collected seeds of various plants, including Gallipoli oaks for Kew and Glasnevin during his time there. He was one of three staff members never to make it back to Glasnevin.

The Temple of Arethusa, designed as a folly for Princess Augusta by Sir William Chambers in 1758, overlooks Kew’s iconic Great Palm House and pond, and until recently, one of the garden’s most famous trees grew on the Victoria Gate side of the pond, by a pair of Chinese lion dogs.

The Verdun oak (Quercus petraea), photographed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in November 2012

The tree in question was a sessile oak, Quercus petraea, grown from an acorn collected on the muddy battlefields of Verdun, France in the autumn of 1916. One of the longest battles of WW1, lasting from February to December 1916, it also devastated massive swathes of Verdun’s oak and chestnut forests.  It is hard to think of so many young horticulturists and plant enthusiasts forced into such ferocious fighting, yet this un-named soldier found the time to gather acorns from beyond the trenches and send them to Kew where a sapling was planted in a prominent spot by the Great Palm House in January 1919.

It was sad then, when this notable tree was hit by the severe St Jude’s Day storm that hit the south of England in October 2013 and was so badly damaged that it needed removal just before the Armistice Day remembrances for that year. By chance Thomas Pakenham, on a visit to Kew, had gathered acorns from the tree, before its sudden demise, and raised several at Tullynally Castle in Co. Westmeath. After a visit there a number of years ago, I left with one of Thomas’s young seedling and so the progeny of Kew’s historic Verdun oak persists in a number of Irish gardens. The Tullynally seedling is now almost 2 m tall here at Kilmacurragh and thriving.

As a mark of respect to those Irishmen who died in the Great War, particularly those who were gardeners, a gathering will take place at Kilmacurragh at 11 am on November 11th 2018, when on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Thomas Pakenham, will plant the Verdun oak seedling on the 18th century Pond Vista, by the ruins of the drawing room of Kilmacurragh House, which saw two consecutive owners die in 1915 and 1916, alongside several tenants and gardeners from the estate.

The event will be attended by the principal Irish gardening and arboricultural societies; the Irish Garden Plant Society, the Irish Tree Society, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, among others.


November 11th 2018 at 11 am. National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh. Meet in visitor car park at 10.45.

Text and image: Seamus O’Brien



Shell Houses and their Artists @ National Botanic Gardens
Jan 12 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Shell Houses and their Artists

Gerald and Margaret Hull will give us an illustrated talk on the value and significance of shell houses throughout the British Isles from the early 18th century to the present day. Their illustrations will feature shell houses and grottoes from Ireland including Dangan Castle, Castletown and Curraghmore. There will be a particular emphasis on the work of the noted botanical artist, Mary Delany, who lived in Glasnevin. Shell houses continue to be built today and Gerald and Margaret will introduce us to some of these contemporary structures.


Gerald and Margaret Hull visit us from Bath to where they have retired after 30 years’ lecturing/teaching in Ireland. They have spent the last 6 years visiting and cataloguing grottoes and shell houses in garden landscapes across the British Isles and the Mediterranean. Their publications include: Conchinilia Journey- British and Irish Shell Artists; Conchinilia Journey II and A Sublime Shell House Arcadianza! Female Creativity in the Changing Design, Decoration and Restoration of British Shell Houses 1800 – 2000.