Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Diarmuid Gavin will be one of the many horticultural stars in this year’s line-up 


By Elizabeth Lee

Fifteen gardening gurus from across Ireland will headline the Carlow Garden Festival programme this year, with the floral fun and frolics kicking off this Saturday, 24 July and will continue until Sunday 1 August.

The festival features an appealing mix of workshops, garden tours, specialist talks and Q&A sessions located along Carlow’s Garden Trail. One of the many star attractions will be gardening personality Diarmuid Gavin who makes a welcome return along with gardener Paul Smyth, at a much-anticipated talk at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Saturday 31 July.


Paul Martin

The festival kicks off on Saturday with a garden tour of Delta Sensory Gardens by Paul Martin, a gold medal winner at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows.

The talk covers the many wonderful gardens that have been created at Delta over the years including the Celtic Walk, the formal Rose Garden, the Five Senses Garden and the Stolen Child Garden along with an overview of the Iris O’ Brien Garden in Delta, which Paul created for the Bloom Garden Festival in 2008.


Éanna Ní Lamhna

An entertaining day, suitable for all the family, takes place on Sunday 25 July as environmentalist and RTÉ personality Éanna Ní Lamhna leads a special nature walk along the magical setting of the River Barrow in Leighlinbridge. Prepare for your senses to be captivated and explore the flora, fauna, plants, animals and birds along this special river. Éanna also provides some useful tips to address climate action and biodiversity using examples of works completed in Leighlinbridge. Two walks have been scheduled to take account of expected demand at 2pm and 4 p.m.

Gardeners Mary Keenan of Gash Gardens in County Laois and Patricia Tyrrell of the Garden and Landscape Designers Association (GLDA) visit Delta Sensory Gardens and the Meadows Garden on Monday 26 July. Patricia explores planting for maximum effect for the longest possible period, without too much maintenance. Meanwhile, Mary provides useful planting information to ensure a garden is never completely devoid of life, colour or interest.

Paul Maher

The stunning setting of Altamont Gardens hosts the Carlow Garden Festival on Tuesday 27 July with a talk on gardening techniques and thrifty design principles by the recently retired curator of the National Botanic Gardens, Paul Maher. Later that day Madeline McKeever of the Brown Envelope Seed Catalogue explains the joy of growing your own plants from seed providing useful tips and tricks for what’s required and what you need to look out for including disease, insects and bad weather.

Klaus Laitenberger is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed vegetable gardeners having authored three books on the subject, restored the gardens of Lissadell House in County Sligo and worked as Head Gardener at the Organic Centre in County Leitrim. During his visit to the vegetable garden in Shankill Castle on Wednesday 28 July he covers how to grow your own organic vegetables, salads and fruits by choosing the right varieties, the best sowing dates and preventing pests and diseases. That afternoon Arthur Shackleton visits Burtown House showing examples of his design approach to gardens he has worked on in the past along with providing a detailed overview of Arthur’s own garden – Fruit Lawn – in Abbeyleix, County Laois and his choice of plants there.

A Tree Trail of Borris House can be enjoyed in the gregarious and knowledgeable company of arborist Thomas Pakenham on Thursday 29 July where some of the beautiful specimen trees on the estate will be presented along with other highlights of a visit here including the Lace Garden, the woodlands, the Stew Pond and the original Victorian laundry. Fiann Ó Nualláin makes a much-anticipated return to Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens in the afternoon explaining how gardening can lead to a longer, healthier and happier life and the wonderful transformations that happen as gardeners toil outdoors. Author of numerous books on the subject and a gold medal winning designer, Fiann explores how the garden heals on so many different levels – which all could benefit and learn from after the events of the last 18 months.

Another talented gardener who makes a welcome return this year is Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener at Kilmacurragh Gardens, who visits Altamont Plant Sales to discuss his favourite plants on Friday 30 July before visiting Huntington Castle where he focuses on both the historic and new planting which has taken place there.

Paul Smyth and Diarmuid Gavin team up to tell the story of their Garden Conversations lockdown broadcasts at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Saturday 31 July. Both will recount how their respective gardens evolved into the dramatic plant filled spaces they are today with Diarmuid’s various trips to the Chelsea Flower Show and Paul’s plant hunting expeditions to Vietnam having influenced their garden styles.

Shirley Lanigan concludes the 2021 festival programme with a trip to Duckett’s Grove Historic House and Walled Gardens on Sunday 1 August where she talks about the changing world of open Irish gardens, referencing the growing interest in organic and responsible gardening while also providing a tour of the borders which are in full colour at present.

The Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners and nature lovers to obtain practical advice from a range of informative workshops and talks while visiting the many beautiful gardens in the county. With gardens in full bloom and with the majority of gardening work completed, the festival is the ideal time to relax, admire the work of others and make gardening plans for the coming months and year ahead. Visitors can explore premises on the Carlow Garden Trail throughout the festival.

Tickets for each event can be booked on www.carlowgardentrail.com

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