Biodiversity Gardening at Colclough Walled Garden, Tintern Abbey

I am very please to announce this latest event in my themed ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ talks and workshops. I had the pleasure of being invited by Colclough Walled Garden management to give a guided walk & talk using Colclough Walled Garden and Tintern Abbey’s very special natural environment as an outdoor classroom. (June 25th 2pm in Colclough Walled Garden, near Saltmills, Sth Wexford).

What can we as gardeners and horticulturists learn from nature and then translate what we learn into our own gardens and green spaces in order to support our local biodiversity?

Study the flower shapes that bees, butterflies and hoverflies are drawn to. Look at the woodland floor and see over time the rotting leaves and dead wood return to the soil, enriching and allowing soil organisms to do their work. See how wildflower rich grasslands around the Abbey attract more insects than the more manicured urban garden lawns. These are just some of the things that will be part of my outdoor classroom – Biodiversity Gardening at Colclough Walled Garden.

The old head gardener’s cottage (Mr Rose) will provide an ideal setting for part of the walk and talk. Let’s hope he can join us on Saturday!

Mr RoseColclough Walled Garden is part of the Wexford Garden Trail and was originally owned by the Colclough family who lived in Tintern Abbey between the 1600’s and mid 1900’s and last vacated in 1959. It is only since 2010 that the garden is being back to its former glory.


Rolling Out “Gardening for Biodiversity’ like a sod of turf grass!

Following on from my recent (March 2016) successful ‘Gardening for Biodiversity‘ informal talks in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, I am rolling them out on a regional basis into Wexford, Carlow and the rest of Wicklow. Indeed I was invited by Monaseed Community Group in North Wexford to give a condensed version covering gardening for pollinators, wildflower gardening and trees for wildlife. This was held during Ireland’s Biodiversity Week (May 2016).

I can adapt the tried and tested series of 5 informal talks so they meet the needs of community groups , garden centres and organisations. I am also willing to give groups a taster and at a later stage I can help groups to apply for funding. Community grants and Local Agenda 21 Environmental grants through county councils may be suitable to help fund these talks.


Easter Rising Commemoration for the Civilians

Tinahely Remembers the Civilians Who Died During The Easter Rising

Last weekend I completed working closely with Tinahely’s Tidy Town’s and community on a very special but simple and evocative Easter Rising commemoration project for the civilians who died. Having worked in the horticultural and floristry background in the past, I have had close contact with helping family and friends celebrate and remember their loved ones’ lives and passings through plants and floral tributes.

There is a long tradition going back centuries if not thousands of years whereby flowers are laid on a loved one’s grave at the time of the funeral and on their anniversary. Equally, after a loved one’s passing, simple items belonging to the deceased can evoke strong memories e.g. a pair of glasses, a watch or even an old pair of shoes!

The placing of flowers on a loved one’s grave in Ancient Rome allowed for the deceased’s spirit to wander around a comforting environment. The red poppy is now very entwined with the World Wars and other significant wars in more recent times. Individual flowers have their own language and the blue forget me not (Myosotis) as the name suggests symbolises memories and in remembrance.

Tinahely’s community took the steps to mark the passing of the civilians who died during the 1916 Easter Rising and give those who died a simple but living memorial that compliments other events occurring in Tinahely’ Courthouse Arts Centre. While it was acknowledged that the exact number is still to this date unknown for various reasons, the community still wanted to mark the passing of another Irish person’s death during this most important time of our history just as they would mark the passing of their own loved ones death. Indeed, it has been suggested, that the placing of flowers as far back as 30,000 years ago when the Neanderthals were in existence, that the flowers would possibly help the departed to start a new life!

Taking part in the ceremony on April 24th included Tinahely National School, Kilcommon National School, Tinahely’s Mens Shed, Tinahely Active Retirement, KARE, Tinahely’s Women’s Network and individuals.

Moving towards sustainable gardening

wildlifeWith the help of Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund through Wicklow County Council, I am delivering a range of talks and workshops. These are aimed at gardeners and community groups to give them the knowledge, skills and tools to help them make a difference.

In the past gardeners, horticulturists and all green fingered people (and I include myself) have a lot to answer for with the use of unsustainable products and practices. For example the introduction of invasive species like Japanese knotweed or giant hogweed, continued use of peat as a growing medium to name a few. However we are also well placed to make a huge contribution to more sustainable practices be it using peat free composts, supporting initiatives to rid us of invasive species or helping to spread the word about ways to garden that supports, protects our local biodiversity and use out natural resources in a more responsible manner.

These workshops focus on Gardening for Wildlife, Water Conservation, Peat Free composts, Wildflower Gardening, and Trees for Wildlife. Each workshop finishes with a range of ‘eco-pledges’. Each person is asked to commit to an eco-pledge. Whether that might be to engage with one of the Irish environmental organisations, or taking on a big wildflower project in their own garden or open public space – every positive step helps!