The garden at the old rectory, relocated by the museum from the townland of Lismacloskey, has been planted and maintained since 1987 by IGPS volunteers. It is a cottage-style garden in keeping with a residence of a clergyman living around 1900.
By custom, the volunteer gardeners begin their year at St Patrick’s Day and garden into November if weather permits, weeding, mowing, staking and replenishing the plants. The main focus is on preserving Irish cultivars, which have come to us through local breeders and donations from IGPS members and gardens throughout Ireland.
This year there were a few false starts for the volunteers due to the cold wet Spring but at last, we are back to catch up with the weeds, mulch, stake and plan new introductions to the garden. In addition to agreeing and acquiring desirable plants, this year we can look forward to a new automated watering system installed by the museum.
Spring is a special time at Lismacloskey. There are around 40 varieties of daffodils which have come to us from Northern Ireland daffodil breeders, and which are planted in grass, beside a picket fence and dotted throughout the beds.
Narcissus ‘Foundling’ bred by Kate Reade of Carncairn Daffodils in 1969 was generally thought to be unavailable.
Happily, it was rediscovered and introduced into the garden in 2021. It is an attractive daffodil with swept back white petals and a pink cup and is ‘doing nicely’.
In 2021 the volunteers were delighted to be asked to name a new variety bred by Brian Duncan, and so Narcissus ‘Lismacloskey’ was born.
It is a tall, elegant, small cupped daffodil with luminous lemon petals and a slightly darker cup. It seems quite at home lighting up the garden, as promised by Brian.
Other garden delights in Spring include a selection of primulas with Irish interest, including the very pretty Primula vulgaris ‘Dark Rosaleen’, an old cultivar no longer available commercially. Primula ‘Guinevere’ is a good ‘doer’ in the garden. It is a very attractive polyanthus type primula with pale lilac-pink flowers sitting above a rosette of dark green leaves.
Primula ‘Carrigdale’ is one of several primulas in the garden bred by Joe Kennedy, is a favourite with its subtle colouring of white blooms fading to pink.
Bergenia purpurascens ‘Irish Crimson’ is dramatic at the entrance to the garden with Rhododendron augustinii, named for the Irish plant collector Augustine Henry, now rarely seen in gardens, in full flower behind it.
The unusual Pieris japonica ‘Daisy Hill’ sits beside a recent addition, Anisodontea ‘El Rayo’ which has flowered throughout the year and contributes to the cottage garden look. The colour combination of Omphaloides cappadocia ‘Starry Eyes’ and white Corydalis works well.
There are unexpected pleasures in gardening at the Rectory Garden, including chats with visitors to the museum from far off places, beautiful willow sweet pea wigwams made by Bob Johnston, iron plant supports from the blacksmith and most importantly, much valued support from museum staff.