The festival starts on Saturday 29th July with a talk on the famed scientist John Tyndall and his role in biodiversity. Delivered by Dr Norman McMillan, the talk takes place in the Garden of Remembrance in the garden village of Leighlinbridge.
On Sunday, July 30th Randal Plunkett, the man behind the Dunsany Nature Reserve, Ireland’s only large-scale rewilding project focuses on nature’s ability to recover and regenerate and the small micro changes everybody can make, in the special venue of An Gairdín Beo, a two-acre community garden in Carlow Town.
Monday, 31st July will see gardener and writer Alasdair Moore visit Huntington Castle where he will trace 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.
“Making Magic in My Garden” will be the theme of June Blake’s presentation in Delta Sensory Gardens on the same day. The amazing colour displays in June’s garden in County Wicklow are quite extraordinary and, in this talk, she will demonstrate how to create colour and magic in a gardening space through a range of flowers and colours.
On Tuesday, 1st August, head gardener of the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Seamus O’ Brien, will be in Hardymount Gardens in Tullow, where he will recount the adventures of a trip he led in July 2022 to the mountains of Ladakh, where he and his group studied a high-altitude desert flora. Ladakh has some of the greatest glaciers in Asia and these glaciers water the deserts on the mountain slopes and valleys below, giving rise to a rich flora. Seamus will explain how climate change is threatening this rare eco-system. Altamont Gardens features on the festival programme on the same day with a talk by ecologist Mark Desmond on the rich biodiversity of Altamont Gardens.
Soil health will be at the forefront of Colm O’ Driscoll’s talk in Burtown House and Gardens on August 2nd when he will delve into the area of regenerative organic vegetable production, focusing in on the most environmentally sustainable approach to growing vegetables.
Shankill Castle and Gardens in Paulstown will play host to a trio of events that afternoon including a talk by Kitty Scully on essential kitchen garden plants that thrive in the Irish climate; an in-depth foraging walk through the grounds and organic farm of Shankill Castle with Mary and Robert White of Blackstairs Ecotrails; and a three-course feast supper, celebrating foraged, seasonal and local ingredients cooked by Seamus Jordan of Plúr Bakery, to end the day with a relaxed evening of great food and garden chat.
Robin Lane Fox of the Guardian delivers an interesting talk on Beauty and Biodiversity in the stunning surrounds of Borris House on Thursday, August 3rd, arguing the case for an approach which is best served by the traditional craft of gardening rather than declaring war on every chemical and hybrid plant. Later that day Shirley Lanigan delves into herb gardening exploring their long and colourful history at Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens, a beautiful location in which to learn more about their use.
A final day treat is in store on August 5th when Fergus Garrett, chosen by Gardens Illustrated as one of the 30 most influential living garden designers and horticultural educators in Britain, visits Huntington Castle and Gardens to talk about the history of Great Dixter, the 15th century manor house and its restoration by the famous arts and crafts architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. Focusing on border design, planting style, meadow gardening and the importance of a biodiverse garden, he will also discuss the way forward for a sensitive historic garden and estate such as Great Dixter. Marie Staunton, one of Ireland’s top fashion models in the 1980s developed a huge interest in gardening eventually studying horticulture at the National Botanic Gardens. In a guided tour of Delta Sensory Gardens on Saturday August 5th she explores how gardeners can mix texture and colour to create wonderful and exciting combinations.