IGPS web site editor Andrew Gee (left) and Agnes Peacocke, Northern Region Plant Sale Organiser (right) present a selection of Irish Heritage Plants to James and Lorraine Small.

Text and image courtesy of Billy McCone

Situated on the northern coast of County Down is the seaside village of Helen’s Bay, named after Helen Blackwood( Sheridan) Baroness Dufferin and Clandeboye who owned Clandeboye Estate (venue of the IGPS 2024 AGM) near Bangor.

On the outskirts of the village is a 1.5-acre class B1 Victorian listed garden. Built in 1886, the walled garden has many tales to tell.

Two wars caused many years of neglect but present owners and IGPS members James and Lorraine Small, along with enthusiastic volunteers are bringing the garden back into production, using sustainable horticultural practices and organic growing principles.

Since 2011, the ambitious task of a sympathetic restoration is ongoing, with work undertaken to restore walls, pathways and glasshouse and as Lorraine says, “It will take a few years to see this through to completion but inspiration comes from the potential of this unique, magical space.”

The IGPS are delighted to contribute to this heritage site by providing some Irish Heritage Plants, with the promise of more to come. With the mild coastal climate and protection of high walls, the garden offers a truly safe haven for many Irish Heritage Plants and an adjoining woodland garden will provide a happy environment for the shade lovers.

With the dual events of IGPS Plant Sale and European heritage on the 9th September 2023 it was opportune to present James and Lorraine with a small donated collection of plants, Including :-

Bergenia Ballyawley from Ballyawley Park, Dundrum, Co. Dublin.

Dahlia ‘Matt Armour’ named for gardener Matt Armour of Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal,

Rosa ‘Rambling Rector introduced by Daisy Hill Nursery, Newry,

From June Blake’s garden, Kilbride Co. Wicklow, Pulmonaria ‘Blake’s Silver’.

Four plants of a Slieve Donard Dierama were donated by professional grower Doug Thompson which we look forward to identifying or trying to, as Slieve Donard produced numerous hybrids. The remaining three will go to Lismacloskey, Pogue’s Entry and Rowallane.

Escallionia ‘Alice’ introduced by and named for his wife by Charles F. Ball of Glasnevin Botanic Gardens, Dublin and distributed by Daisy Hill Nursery, Newry

Sambucus nigra porphyrophylla ‘Guincho Purple found in Scotland and propagated by Mrs Vera Mackie of Helen’s Bay. The plant apparently still grows in Guincho; a garden sited a matter of yards from the walled garden.

With the garden regularly open to the public for garden tours, events and a wide variety of horticultural and biodiversity-based workshops and activities; we have not only a great safe haven for heritage plants but one where both members and non-members can rightly enjoy.