A date for your diaries: 5-7th October 2023:  The 29th annual conference of the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Trust.

This year in County Donegal, on the theme ‘Robinsonian Gardening – a living legacy’.

Sometimes called ‘the father of the English flower garden’, William Robinson (1838-1935), the Irish gardener, journalist, and publisher, had a profound impact on late Victorian taste and ideas through promoting a new movement in garden aesthetics. He challenged the formality of High Victorian patterned gardening and popularised more natural planting of hardy perennials, shrubs, and climbers, in line with the honest simplicity and vernacular styles of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Conference speakers will be exploring Robinson’s life (Judith Nesbitt); the impact of his book The Wild Garden (Charles Nelson, honorary member and founding member of IGPS); his relationship with Gertrude Jekyll (Richard Bisgrove); his garden at Gravetye (Tom Coward); his influence on gardens of his own time, such as Mount Usher (John Anderson) and on later gardens, such as Annesgrove (Neil Porteous) and Rowallane (Claire McNally, IGPS member and member of the Northern regional committee), as well on modern contemporary planting, as at Malverleys (Matthew Reese).

Other papers include one by Brent Elliott (delivered by Doreen Wilson, IGPS member) on Robinson the Victorian, while the conference will also visit the garden of Glenveagh in the Donegal highlands (with Seán Ó Gaoithín) and the coastal garden of Carrablagh at Port Salon (with Brendan Little).

The venue is the Mount Errigal Hotel, Ballyraine, Letterkenny and the conference fee, as usual great value, includes reception, coffee/teas, lunches and one evening meal, while transport will be available to the visited gardens.

Delegates are advised to book early and reminded that there is a reduced fee for early booking before 15th August.

Booking details will appear soon on the Northern Ireland Heritage Trust website here.