Carlow Garden Festival’s Alasdair Moore “La Mortola” In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury

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July 31, 11:00 am

La Mortola: In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury

In this compelling talk, “La Mortola, In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury”, gardener and writer Alasdair Moore traces Thomas Hanbury’s remarkable life and passion for horticulture, examining how a young man from Clapham, London, formed the finest private plant collection of his generation, with over 5,000 rare and exotic plants from Africa and Asia alongside native Mediterranean flora. Overlooking the sea on the Franco/Italian Riviera, La Mortola remains one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world, a classic gardenesque style estate on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Thomas Hanbury remains one of the outstanding figures of 19th-century horticulture, his legacy includes the gift of the gardens at Wisely to the Royal Horticultural Society. Yet, little generally is known about this Quaker philanthropist and lover of plants who was decorated by both the British and Italian governments. With unique access to Hanbury’s diaries and family documents and drawing on his own gardening expertise and knowledge of La Mortola, Alasdair Moore follows in the footsteps of Thomas Hanbury; from his formative years in Shanghai to his life in Italy, as he battled to create his superlative garden.

These gardens were mainly laid out in the 17th century by the Esmondes. They include the French limes of the Avenue, the “parterre” or lawns to the side of the house, the fish ponds on either side of the centre walk through the wilderness and the majority of Yew trees which comprise the Yew Walk. Larger plantings have resulted in Huntington possessing a number of great Irish trees, including four varieties of hickory, a cut leaved oak, Siberian crab and buckeye chestnut.

Venue: Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow, Y21 K237

Time: 11 a.m.

Admission: €19.50

House tours: €12.95 per adult, child u12 €6, Concessions €11, Family 2 adults and 3 children under 16 €30

House tours available hourly 2-5pm. Teas, coffee, cakes and light snacks available. Get the full Huntington experience stay the night at one of the beautiful castle rooms or self-catering lodges.

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Carlow Garden Festival's "La Mortola: In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury" at Hunting Castle

Alasdair Moore


Alasdair Moore is Manager of Estate and Gardens at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. Alasdair’s first horticultural job was as an assistant-gardener at Queen’s Park in London, before a life-changing year as a garden student in the Abbey Gardens, Tresco on the Isles of Scilly. Following training at RHS Wisley and working at West Green House, Hampshire, Alasdair returned to Tresco as Assistant Head Gardener, where he remained for the next ten years.

During this time, Alasdair was a Winston Churchill Fellow, researching proteas in South Africa, and studied botanic garden management at RBG Kew. Alasdair left Tresco in 2003 to write a book about the great Victorian horticultural figure Sir Thomas Hanbury ( “La Mortola – in the footsteps of Sir Thomas Hanbury”) and worked for a time as a freelance horticultural journalist (Gardens Illustrated, The Independent and the Telegraph).
He also spent time as an international garden guide, leading tours to South Africa, the Riviera, Madeira, China and Japan.

Alasdair returned to Tresco for another ten years, gardening and writing before becoming the island’s Marketing Manager. The lure of horticulture proved too strong and most recently Alasdair spent three years as Horticultural Manager of the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, before taking up his current post at Heligan.

The Carlow Garden Festival is supported by Carlow County Council under the Festival and Events Scheme , by Fáilte Ireland and Irelands Ancient East.


July 31
11:00 am
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Huntington Castle and Gardens
Clonegal, Co. Carlow Y21 K237 + Google Map
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