The author Alfred Mercier had a quote which said “What we learn with pleasure we never forget”. There is so much truth in this idea. I certainly know that the information I remember in most detail has been given to me in friendly conversation with an expert or in lectures which the talker has made fun and accessible. In this context there is truly no better way to learn about gardens and growing than literally in the garden with enthusiastic and inspiring teachers.
For me personally I have realised that the more I know about gardens, plants and design, the more I want to learn. This thirst for knowledge is what makes me curious to explore different gardens, meet inspiring people in the field and research plants and ideas I want to know more about. I love learning new things about the garden and Ireland has many gardening events and shows which bring expert knowledge directly to the visitor.
Whether you are a passionate gardener or just interested in gathering some creative green inspiration this years Carlow garden festival is set to be a fantastic show full of in-depth knowledge and inspiring speakers. The show is a 10 day extravaganza which res from July 21st to July 30th brings together world-class UK gardeners combined with the very best of Irish garden broadcasters, writers and new trailblazers in Irish horticulture.
One of the major draws this year will undoubtedly be gardening guru Monty Don who is best known for his BBC programme Gardeners World as well as his many publications in garden design and planting practices. The gardening icon will open the show on Friday July 21st at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven and will reflect on how his famous garden at Longmeadow has evolved over the last twenty five years and the many lessons he has learned along the way.
One of the highlights of this year’s show also include a master class in gardening at Altamont Plant Sales featuring plantsman, gardener, author and broadcaster Roy Lancaster, Secretary General of BGCI Paul Smyth and garden designer, journalist and television personality Joe Swift. This is a rare opportunity to catch three speakers of such high calibre in one venue, on the same day, at a very reasonable price of €35.
On the 22nd of July June-Fearnley Whittingsstall, twice winner of a gold medal at Chelsea pays a visit to Newtownbarry House and Huntington Castle and Gardens leading two informative and interesting garden tours.
Master plantsman Jimi Blake will give a garden tour at Patthana Gardens in Kiltegan , County Wicklow on the 23rd of July and another speaker who is sharing his creative genius is the talented Oliver Schurmann, whose stunning garden scooped the overall prize at Bloom 2017. He will visit the Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow town and the gardens of artist Philippa Bayliss in Myshall on Monday the 24th of July.
On Tuesday, July 25th John Anderson discusses what it’s like to garden for the Queen of England in his role at Windsor Castle, in Hardymount Gardens, near Tullow and on the 26th the Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal Winner, Mary Reynolds presents two special talks around the stunning grounds of Shankill Castle and Borris House and Demesne where a host of activities including house tours and estate walks can also be enjoyed on the day. The noted architectural and garden historian Terence Reeves Smyth also gives a talk on the illustrated history of walled gardens in Ireland in Borris House on Wednesday, July 26th 2017.
One designer and botanist that has a wonderful unique approach is the talented James Wong. A wonderful afternoon and evening is promised on July 27th with UK gardening expert Wong who is a botanist, writer and broadcaster and who, in an intimate gathering at Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens will highlight how to Grow for Flavour. Later that evening learn How to Eat Better at his talk in the wonderful setting of the VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow town.
If you are interested in Roses then the talks by Dermot O’Neill, one of Ireland’s best loved gardening experts will be one not to miss. He will speak about his top ten plants at Rathwood, Tullow and later at Rathvilly Garden Centre where he shares his best tips and tricks on growing roses. Another highlight will be the return of Neil Porteous, head gardener at the outstanding Mount Stewart Gardens in County Down who gives a talk in the charming environs of Burtown House and Gardens, Athy, on Sunday, July 30th, where he will be joined by Dr. David Rae, Director of Horticulture and Learning at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
If growing cut flowers is something that interest you then I would highly recommend visiting the talk by Fionnuala Fallon author and Irish Times gardening columnist when she pays a visit to the Delta Sensory Gardens to talk about growing cut flowers seasonally and sustainably on the 27th on July,
Another talented gardener participating in the Carlow Garden Festival is Mary Keenan owner of Gash Gardens in Laois who visits Newtownbarry House and Gardens and Huntington Castle and Gardens for a garden and tree trail. Parks Superintendent with the OPW Paul McDonnell promises an exciting journey through the historic setting of Altamont Gardens with its fine plant collections, Robinsonian style landscapes, man-made lake and ancient oak woodland.
Last but not least, the Carlow garden festival also has some fun, family friendly events including the nature drawing event by Melissa Doran, well-known as the illustrator of the number one bestseller of Irish children’s non-fiction book Naturama as she leads a special nature drawing walk along the magical setting of the River Barrow. Melissa intends to explore the flora, fauna, plants, animals and birds along the river and you are encouraged to bring your sketchpad and pencils – this is the perfect afternoon for all the family!