Mid-May E-Bulletin:

Dear IGPS member

This week we have lots of news from our committees and members to share. Recently we all received a thoughtful email from our Chairman, Billy McCone, making a plea for members to come forward and volunteer for the Committee and we are delighted to let you know that there has been a wonderfully positive response. However, more volunteers are still very welcome; if you feel that you can make a contribution by joining the Executive or a regional committee please get in touch right away.


And if joining a committee is not for you, we – Branka and Maeve – still need one or two people to volunteer to join the ebulletin team. We have mentioned this in the past couple of bulletins; now it is urgent as Maeve is going sailing for the summer. All you need are basic word processing skills and lots of enthusiasm for sharing information and being in touch with fellow members. Please get contact us through igps.ireland@gmail.com or text/phone Branka on +353 86 086 4595 or Maeve on +44 7713 739482. Photos, short articles and snippets of information are always needed: please remember to send 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 arbutusgt@gmail.com

Save the date!

Wednesday 26TH May at 8.00pm for the AGM which this year will be online using Zoom. Details of how to log on for the meeting will be sent shortly. The business meeting – please see page 4 of the April Newsletter for the formal notice and agenda  – will be followed by a talk by our distinguished member, Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener at National Botanic Garden Kilmacurragh. One not to be missed. You can register for the meeting right away by emailing igps.membership@gmail.com

Visit to Kilmacrew, Co Down

The first garden visit of the year is taking place on Saturday 29th May to the Robinsonian garden at Kilmacrew, near Banbridge in Co Down. In order to be Covid-compliant and meet the wishes of the owner, we have had to limit numbers and split ourselves between the morning and afternoon so pre-booking through Eventbrite has been essential. The local committee members look forward to welcoming members and a small number of their personal guests to the first outing of the season. If you have a booking but are unable to make it, please contact Adrian Walsh whose details are on the Eventbrite form as there is a waiting list for places.



If you do not already pay by Direct Debit and have been notified that your subscription is due, Nichola Monk the Membership Secretary, would love to hear from you. Her full contact details are on the outside back cover of all the Newsletters and her email is igps.membership@gmail.com. Amazingly, subs have remained the same for 10 years or more so it is excellent value.


Dates for your Diary

There was an insert with the April Newsletter giving the dates which were already known. Apologies but unfortunately there was a last minute glitch and it was printed on a sheet of white paper which is easily lost instead of the intended green card which would have been much more durable.


Saturday 12th June: Click and Collect plant sale with collection at Richmond Park, Belfast – the list of plants for sale at either £3 or £5 will be emailed shortly.


Saturday 19th June: visit to Greba Gardens, Carrowdore Road, Greyabey Co Down


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


Saturday 24th August: visit to Fernhill Cottage, Spa, Ballynahinch, Co Down 


Saturday 17th October: Plant Sale at the Church of the Guardian Angels Parish Centre, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin


Government guidance together with the wishes of the owners mean that most if not all the visits will have to be pre-booked. 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.

News from members

Theresa Crothers who chairs the Leinster regional committee, grows the well-known Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ but with an unusual twist. Theresa has a relatively small garden and reckons that while she needs some privacy she doesn’t have enough room for a hedge along the boundary. Her solution has been to plant the Photinia, which she loves for its vivid new growth, and train its branches sideways to form a screen.

Lismacloskey Garden at the Ulster Folk Museum

Our volunteers have been back working in the garden for several weeks now, socially distanced of course. Weeding and mulching has been the order of the day but recently everything paused while the beautiful new, fragrant Irish rhododendron, Rhododendron ‘Ashmount’, was planted. And there was special pleasure when the new daffodil, Narcissus ‘Lismacloskey’ named by the Society in recognition of the efforts of members starting over 30 years ago in 1987, came into bloom.

Breda Cummins, who gardens in Ranelagh and also serves on the Leinster committee, has shared photos of some of her plants which look at their best in May.
Paeonia lactiflora is a beautiful peony with fragrant bowl- shaped flowers measure up to 10cm across.
Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ has very fragrant flowers through May.
Actinidia kolomikta, a deciduous climber, has beautiful white and pink tips to its leaves in spring. It is a member of the Kiwi fruit family and may produce fruit if there is a male plant nearby.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis (formerly Dicentra) commonly known as Bleeding Heart is a low growing, clump-forming perennial with attractive flowers on its arching stems.
Mary Montaut sings the praises of the Strawberry Tree

It may be that Arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree, is one of our oldest Irish Heritage Plants.  It is remarkable in that it is native to the Mediterranean and to Ireland arriving via the prehistoric land bridge with the continent of Europe, whereas many of our native trees arrived in Ireland by way of Britain.  It is listed in A Heritage of Beauty as being cultivated here ever since the late 1500s and can be extremely long-lived, with the example in Glasnevin thought to be over 200 years old.


I think that it is an eminently garden-worthy small tree.  It has beautiful bark, is evergreen and neat in habit, and it bears its flowers at the same time as the fruit from the previous year as these take a year to ripen. The fruit are decorative as the name suggests, but the Tree Council of Ireland points out that the Latin name unedo – eat only once – indicates that it is not very pleasant. I have tried some and it was sweetish, pulpy and dull to my taste. But be warned: according to the Eat the Weeds website “unripe it can cause nausea, on the other hand it can ferment on the branch and cause mild intoxication.”  From a health point of view it does have Vitamin C.


The pretty white flowers, which appear in late October and November, provide excellent forage for pollinators, as well as scenting the air with a beautiful honey perfume. There is a very special kind of honey which is produced by bees in the Arbutus woodlands of Sardinia, where it is known as ‘Miele Amaro’ (bitter honey).  A Heritage of Beauty notes that there are rosy pink-flowered cultivars, which were bred at Daisy Hill Nursery early last century, though some seem to have vanished.  Perhaps it is time to have more regard for this delightful small tree.

Fiona Simpson is yet another member who has had enjoyed success with seeds obtained through our Seed Scheme. She has sent a photo of the outstanding white-flowered variegated honesty Lunaria annua ‘Alba Variegata’ together with L. ‘Chedglow’.
Plea for a Peony
You may remember that in the last bulletin Lesley Fennell put out a plea for any member growing Paeonia obovata ‘Alba’ to let her have some seeds. Here is a photo of the exceptionally handsome seed heads.
Stop Press:
Check out the ‘Burren in Bloom 2021 Online Programme’, for IGPS member Brendan Sayers’ talk about the orchids of the Burren on Friday 21 May at 8.15pm. Brendan is an orchid specialist at the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin.


Thank you very much to everyone who has been in touch with pictures, articles and information. Please keep them coming, they are giving a lot of pleasure to a lot of members.

With best wishes, as always
Branka and Maeve

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