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Green and Vibrant, Travel

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

July 26, 2014
Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Carol & Dee

Carlow Garden Festival has begun and what a fantastic way to open it with none other than the queen of plants-women, Carol Klein. If I gush a bit during this post I hope you’ll forgive me as having spent two days at local garden related events with another nine in store, it’s difficult not to!

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Carol’s cat


The ballroom in the Woodford Dolman hotel in Carlow was packed with young and old who’d come to see and hear Carol talk about her cottage garden at Glebe House in Devon and we weren’t disappointed.

Carol is inspirational and so very down to earth and the way she talked us through her slides with her friendly Lancashire lilt clearly showed us all that her enthusiasm of plants and nature isn’t just for the telly.

Carol lives and breathes this lifestyle and her warmth and humour shone through. If anyone there hasn’t been watching Gardeners World up until now, I’m sure they all will be in future. Despite the exhausting schedule she found herself under since arriving in our county, Carol took the time to chat, sign books and autographs, as well as answer any questions thrown at her and have her photo taken with whoever requested one during the evening.

I enjoyed reading Irish Farmerette’s thoughts about the evening too which mirrored my own. It was also good to finally meet up with the younger horticulturists of Waterford IT as well as David Corscaddon of the Beyond The Wild Garden blog who I’m sure will be sharing his experiences of the evening and garden festival soon. Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!Eileen O’Rourke, the extremely hardworking CEO of Carlow Tourism introduced Carol and admitted that even she has now begun incubating plants as a result of being amid so many beautiful gardens in Carlow. It’s hard not to take an interest when surrounded by so much inspiration.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Never mind the stretch limo when there’s a bench

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Inspiration Garden at Arboretum

Which leads me to the first of the day time talks of the garden festival that took place at Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Heaven, where Ireland’s very own Dermot O’Neill gave his tips on successful container gardening before giving a guided walk through the Inspiration Gardens. There’s a reason this garden centre has earned it’s Five Star rating and I’m not only proud to say I spent many weeks there under the guidance of plant experts Eamon Wall and Ger Heary undertaking my horticulture work experience, with over 70 people on their books, Arboretum is one of our largest local employers.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Dermot O’Neill talk at Arboretum during the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival

The garden centre itself is bursting with flowers, plants and trees of such good quality it’s difficult not to spend any money there and hours can be lost winding your way through all the pathways, gazing at the displays, trying to decide what and how to plant up your garden.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!


Not wanting to overload you with too much information now, I’ll be attending a few more talks and demos over the coming days, starting with Helen Dillon at Huntington Castle which I’m really looking forward to attending (click the link and you’ll see why).

I’ll keep you posted about what you can expect over the next few days if you decide to visit Carlow and its surrounding villages for this or future festivals.

Oh and before I forget to mention it, we still have two more competitions running this week. Take a look at the end of this post linked her for more information on those.

Have you visited any talks or gardens in Carlow? Are you planning to see what we have on offer here this year?

Green and Vibrant, Travel

Carlow Garden Festival: What’s On & Win Tickets, Trees & Tools

July 13, 2014
Carlow Garden Festival

16 trails, talks and walks will be taking place at the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival

Carlow Garden Festival ~ Friday, 25th July – Monday, 4th August 2014

Green and VibrantVery soon Carlow will be awash with colour, scent and perfume as gardens all around the County open their gates to the 13th year of the Carlow Garden Festival.

During the 11 day festival that will be celebrating all things green and growing, I’ll be joining forces with Susan FitzGerald of the Vibrant Ireland blog in our new collaboration GREEN and VIBRANT as we share photos, tips and tales from some of the various walks and talks included this year.

If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s happening throughout the festival, just enter the #CarlowGardenFest  into any of your social media channels and all of our (or anyone else’s if they’ve tagged them) posts and images about the festival will come up for you. If you’re attending any of the events at the festival and would like to share them with us all, use that hashtag with your posts and we’ll be able to find and share your updates too. We may even find you there 🙂

Have a Go at Winning Three Prizes to Celebrate Carlow Garden Festival 2014

To celebrate this wonderful event in Ireland’s gardening calendar and in my home town, we have three prizes to offer you. Carlow Garden Festival PrizesPrize #1 First of all and with thanks to Carlow Tourism,  if you’d like to win two tickets to the opening night of the Garden Festival on Friday, 25th July where Carol Klein of Gardeners World will be sharing her secrets on creating a cottage garden, just leave a comment in the comment box at the end of the post that include the words Carlow Garden Festival. The winner’s name will be randomly drawn on the evening of Saturday, 19th July. These tickets are worth €24.50 each and if you’re not a gardener yourself, perhaps you have a friend or family member who’d love to win them. 

Prize #2 Secondly, if you’d like to win a gardening tool set carefully chosen by Eamon Wall, Garden Centre Manager of the Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Centre who kindly donated the hand fork, trowel and secateurs, take a look at the Vibrant Ireland blog for more details. This is a lovely tool set that would suit someone starting out or a gardener who’s looking to replace or add to their gardening kit. All you have to do is leave a comment on Susan’s blog before 6pm on Friday, 1st August.

Prize #3 Lastly, you could win a miniature family Coronet apple tree, ideal for small or patio gardens, also donated by the Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre. To be in with a chance to win this prize, share a photo of your own from your garden or any of the Carlow garden trail gardens or Carlow Garden Festival events you attend and include the hashtag #CarlowGardenFest.

You can share your photo(s) before 9pm Saturday, 2nd August via your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. Just remember to include #CarlowGardenFest so that we can find them and to ensure you will be entered into the draw. You can also post your photos to either the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, or to the Greensideup Facebook page. You may enter on all three social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as many times as you like and each platform’s post will be counted as a separate entry. The winner can collect their tree at Duckett’s Grove at the Teddy’s Picnic  (a great opportunity to try out some of Madeleine’s wonderful cake while you’re there) or at the Arboretum.

See below for terms and conditions.

Carlow Garden Festival

Carlow Garden Festival 25th July to 4th August 2014

June Blake

Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners or nature lovers to get practical advice from a range of informative workshops while visiting the many beautiful gardens in the county.

Gardens will be in full bloom and with the majority of gardening work completed, it’s the ideal time to relax, admire the work of others and make gardening plans for the coming months and year ahead. I won’t say too much more about it as both the Vibrant Ireland blog and The Sodshow have full details, but here’s a programme of events for you to have a peek at and see what takes your fancy…

Carlow Garden Festival 25th July to 4th August 2014

Over 16 tours, talks and walks catering for all ages and budgets

Carlow Garden Trail

If you’re in or close by to Carlow, we have a fabulous Garden Trail that’s worth a look at with 18 different gardening attractions as well as two feature gardens in the surrounding counties of Kildare and Wexford. The trail includes old gardens that have been lovingly restored and maintained throughout the years, and smaller gardens which are maturing beautifully with time, where visitors can enjoy guided tours, usually with the owner or head gardener. Award winning garden centres and forest parks complement a visit here. Accommodation

Kilgraney Country House & Herb Gardens

A cottage garden at Kilgraney House

Looking to stay? From the award-winning Step House hotel and Kilgraney Country House Herb Gardens to local B&Bs and town centre hotels, there are lots to offer in Carlow catering for all budgets. There are also some great value accommodation breaks along with details of the festival programme which can be found at or alternatively ring Carlow Tourism on 059-9130411 for further details.

Public Transport Carlow is on the direct train line from Heusten Station in Dublin and is on a national coach stop off point too. If a group of you are tempted to travel this way to save on your carbon  footprint and are wondering how you’ll get from garden to garden, Bianka MacDonald runs Carlow Tours, a personalised day trip service and is well worth a call.

Terms & Conditions for the competitions: 

Pompom DahliaAnyone is eligible to enter all three of giveaways. All three winners will be chosen at random and you could potentially win one or three prizes! These prizes are not exchangeable for any monetary value.The Carol Klein tickets may be be collected at the door on the night of the event. The tools can be posted anywhere in ROI, but not further, sorry.  The Coronet Patio Apple Tree winner will have to collect their tree at The Teddy Bear Picnic at Duckett’s Grove on the 2nd August, or at the Arboretum Garden Centre, Leighlinbridge, County Carlow by 31st August 2014. You retain all rights to your photographs, knowing that we may also share them, fully credited to you, on social media and perhaps on a blog post on, or

Best of luck and if you’re visiting any of the gardens during the festival and you spot Susan or me there, please come and say hello, we’d love to see you 🙂

Competition Winner

The winner of the Carol Klein tickets has now been drawn and was randomly chosen by using the number generator. On this occasion, No 13 was the lucky number. Congratulations Denise Delaney, I’ve emailed details to you and thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment. Hopefully we’ll see you at #CarlowGardenFest


Grow Your Own and Gardening Workshops

October 11, 2016

Gardening Workshops – Carlow, Kilkenny and Beyond

Are you a community group, school or organisation that would like to learn more about growing your own herbs or vegetables or getting started in the vegetable garden?

If so Dee Sewell can help.

Dee Sewell is a community educator and qualified horticulturalist who enjoys working with groups to develop their awareness of local food systems, as well as help people who want to garden with a positive environmental ethos.

In the Spring of  2016, Dee held workshops at Greenside Up HQ, near to Old Leighlin in the Carlow hills, as well as continued to tutor in community gardens around Carlow and Kilkenny.

The grow your own and gardening workshops were limited to just eight participants per workshop which resulted in a much more personal learning experience.

Dee can deliver workshops in your garden or premises for various sized groups, and visits can be arranged to the Greenside Up HQ in County Carlow by appointment.

As a qualified tutor with lots of experience working with communities and groups, particularly where social inclusion is paramount, Dee can offer variations of the following gardening workshops tailored to suit your group. Some examples of workshops Dee has delivered include:

Gardening Workshops

  • Planting for Pollinators & Delivering the Pollinator Plan
  • Container Gardening
  • Outdoor Organic Vegetable Crop Production
  • Plant Production from Seed
  • Organic Weed Management
  • Organic Pest and Disease control in the Garden
  • Growing Herbs from Scratch & Creating a Herb Garden
  • Basic Garden Design
  • Composting
  • Growing Irish Food in Irish Soil
  • Harvesting and Preserving
  • Polytunnel Growing
  • Getting the Garden Ready for Winter
  • Spring Garden Preparation
  • Growing Food in Small Spaces
  • Growing Trees from Seed
  • Growing Food in Recycled Containers

Sustainability Courses

  • Water conservation
  • Stop Food Waste
  • Creating Biodiversity in a Garden
  • Healthy Eating without Costing the Earth
  • Upcycling and Using ‘Junk’ in the Garden
  • Creating a Green Roof Structure

Employment Development

Growing food from seed to sale. Dee was funded by Kilkenny Leader Partnership to work with two community garden groups growing food from seed to harvest then cooking, preserving and selling it at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

Dried Beans an Smallholders
Feeling Hot? A Greenside Up Seed Gift Collection Chilli
Calendula Seed Head
Having fun with the colour purple
Climate Change: can we seriously make a difference?
Tomato and Chilli Chutney
How to help bees and pollinators in the garden
Growing food in small spaces

If you’d like more information about how Greenside Up can help you, contact Dee now.

Lifestyle, Travel

Good Moods and Garden Sculpture

September 13, 2016

Good Mood and Garden Sculpture

How many times have you heard how great you’ll feel if you get outside and into nature? I’ve read several papers on the science behind it, have seen the positive and powerful effects that being in a community garden has on people’s good mood, and yet it still takes me by surprise. The power of nature on our mental health was really bought home to me this summer when Mr G and I met up with old friends and headed over to the Wild Atlantic Way for eight nights in our camper vans.

Taking two teenage girls away in a medium wheelbase converted Transit could have been a recipe for disaster, and it wasn’t without its moments, yet it worked. Three nights at Eagle Point near Bantry, three at Pure Camping on Loop Head then two at Lakeside, Mountshannon were exactly what we all needed.

Blessed with fantastic weather which enabled us to sit outside until midnight and master the art of cooking pizza on a BBQ, we were able to chat and laugh and catch up while we watched the Perseid meteor shower from wobbly camper chairs. Thanks to a lucky break in the weather, we were also able to see the dramatic landscapes of Beara Peninsula, swim in the crystal clear waters at the Bridges of Ross and kayak in Lough Derg, all of which could have gone horribly wrong if the unpredictable Irish weather had filled the skies with drizzle and cloud.

Yet it was the couple of hours spent at The Ewe Experience Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Glengarriff, West Cork where I witnessed a teenage transformation. Our 15-year-old didn’t want to walk around a garden that we’d found details of on a rack in the campsite office and she certainly didn’t want to look at sculptures made of recycled stuff. She was very happy to share her displeasure with anyone within a couple of metres, be it with cutting looks, snappy comebacks or simply body language that oozed angst. We knew we had a long drive ahead of us as we moved to the next site so didn’t give her the option of staying behind in the van. We paid the inexpensive fee to enter the garden and hoped for the best.

Good Mood and Garden Sculpture

It’s difficult to know how to begin to describe the enchanting sculpture trail that enfolded before us. The Ewe garden is a nature trail lined with art, sculpture, games, facts as well as lots of quiet, contemplative thought. It’s a place of wonder and discovery and two hours isn’t enough to stop and read, see and do everything in it. Privately owned yet publicly shared, artist Sheena and her writer husband Kurt have filled the twisty, hilly woodland that the river and waterfall run through, with pieces that will inspire, bring a smile and transform you. I can testify that our grouchy teen came out the other side a beautiful, happy human being once more who wanted to talk about the pieces that caught her eye. She also had my camera so all the photos shared below are from her viewpoint, almost all of which are different from the ones I took on my phone.

Coincidentally, before we set off for Clare, Mr G had begun creating his own piece of recycled sculpture for the Global Green Community Garden at Electric Picnic that I was coordinating for organisers Cultivate. Ian was like a child in a toy shop the afternoon we visited ReCreate to pick out materials for the sculpture and only had the finishing touches to add when we returned from our holiday.

Good Moods and Garden Sculpture

Ian Sewell

The concept of the piece was something like “Adam and Eve, the first community gardeners were lured out of the garden by the golden ‘apple’ and all the shiny bling that technology brings with it, yet there’s still hope, a child’s hand reaches out of the top clutching a dove of peace”

The artistic flair that Ian has shared with us is relatively new, but judging by the amount of people who photographed the piece at the Music and Arts Festival, his skills didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. I’m looking forward to more of his creations and perhaps this is the beginning of a sculpture garden in County Carlow, unless you’ve any other ideas what to do with a 12 foot golden mannequin concept tree…?


Two Beautiful Garden Ideas in County Carlow

August 18, 2015

Newtownbarry Gardens through the tea room

Garden Inspiration

Country house gardens are excellent sources of inspiration. If you spot a flower or shrub that you don’t know the name of, or see a planting combination that you’d like to replicate, just take a photo and show it to a horticulturist at a garden centre and they’ll point you in the direction of the plant. Many gardens such as Altamont in County Carlow have labelled their plants and this one in particular has its own garden centre on site too, selling plants the gardeners have grown from seed or cuttings found in the garden.

Having just created a new flower border in own garden where I can’t wait to get cracking on the planting design, I’ll be heading back to some of Carlow’s gardens for some more gardening inspiration throughout the seasons. If you’re in the area here’s two of several country house gardens that can be found on the Carlow Garden Trail, all of which are worth spending a few hours in. 

Firstly, Newtownbarry House and Gardens that’s within walking distance of Bunclody village centre on the Wexford/Carlow border, handy if you’re staying in one of the hotels or bed and breakfasts close by. Secondly Borris House and Gardens, with its gate house almost directly opposite the award-winning Step House Hotel in Borris village.

2 Beautiful Garden Ideas in County Carlow

Newtownbarry House and Gardens

In years gone by owners of the big houses in Ireland would have swapped trees and plants following their tours of Europe and beyond. Newtownbarry House and Gardens is a good example of this as it has a large collection of trees that border the lawns of the old house. However, what Newtownbarry has that many others don’t is a sunken garden that Seamus O’Brien, curator of the National Botanic Gardens, described at the recent Carlow Garden Festival as “the best in Ireland”.

As you walk out through the tea room and up the steps into the rose garden on the left, you’ll pass a shrubbery that will give lots of garden inspiration as Berberis and Hypericum sit next to Magnolia and Geranium. Pass the Magnolia tree and onto the woodland pathway, and you’ll soon come across another unexpected entrance. Lift your head and look up and you’ll be greeted by a riot of colour as Lavender, Crocosmia, and Lilies compete with apple and plum trees and a myriad of other plants in the glorious walled garden, all of which are flanked by neatly clipped box hedging.

Continue along the path, down the steps and the sunken garden will unfold before you, a place where Hydrangea frame a stone archway, Lily pads cover the pond and Inula sit next to Artichokes, attracting more pollinators to this beautiful garden. 

If the gardens aren’t enough to keep you there, Newtownbarry house has a tea room, craft area and art gallery. If you’d like to find out more, including opening hours and prices, take a look at the Newtownbarry website.

2 Beautiful Garden Ideas in County Carlow

Borris House and Gardens

Borris House has only recently joined the Carlow garden trail and I was delighted to find it had done so having never had the opportunity to venture through the gates.

Being the home of Leinster kings and 16 generations of McMorrough Kavanagh’s, the house itself sits majestically at the foothills of The Blackstairs Mountains. Just the views that surround it are enough to make you want to breath in the fresh air deeply as you gaze out towards the tree line that follows the River Barrow. Designed in the style of Capability Brown, unlike Newtownbarry, bar a couple of exceptions Borris House gardens isn’t full of floral delights, it’s home to majestic trees. Amongst many others there are three varieties of Cedar – the Lebanese, Deodar and Atlas Blue, as well as a Tulip Tree, Fern Leaf Beech and Tree of Heaven.

Lace Garden

In contrast to the many shades of green, if you’re looking for some floral garden inspiration in Borris House gardens, the newly developed white Lace Garden is worth keeping an eye on as it grows and develops. The gardener explained that it’s just one of four she’s found in Europe that’s designed to resemble the soft patterns that form an intricate piece of lace, something that Borris was once known for. Surrounded on all sides by espaliered Hornbeam or granite walls, the garden has many varieties of white plants, from Cornflower and Lavender to Cosmos and Roses, all of which sit beautifully next to the renovated, original laundry room, giving visitors an even greater feeling of being transported back through the ages.

2 Beautiful Garden Ideas in County Carlow

As well as the gardens, Borris House is open for tours at designated times. For information on opening hours and fees for you can find out more on their website here.

Carlow Garden Festival runs for ten days every year, late July to early August where gardening experts can help you identify plants as you stroll around the gardens with them, so if you haven’t found them already, you might like to plan to visit next year. During the festival you’ll have the opportunity to visit 11 or more gorgeous gardens in the area, no better inspiration to help you design your own beautiful garden than that!


11 Gardens to Visit in County Carlow

July 24, 2015
10 Gardens to Visit in Carlow

Altamont Gardens, Tullow

Carlow Garden Festival

It’s hard to believe that it’s twelve months since I last wrote about Carlow Garden Festival. Ever since then I’ve been meaning to share details with you of all the beautiful gardens we’re lucky to have on our doorstep, yet here we are again with another festival about to begin. So whether you’re passing through the second smallest county in Ireland, or better still staying for a few days, the ten-day garden festival held in County Carlow every summer is an opportunity to see the best of Carlow’s gardens up close and personal. All of the following gardens attract celebrities for walks and talks during the garden festival, but most are open throughout the year. Read on for more information.

Continue Reading…

Lifestyle, Travel

Garden Festivals ‘Bloom’ in Ireland. Here’s four to watch out for

June 10, 2015

Garden Festivals are Blooming

Ireland’s premier garden festival in Phoenix Park may have just finished but the garden festival season is still very much in full swing.

Four garden festivals taking place in Kilkenny, Dublin, Carlow and Claregalway during the next few weeks have caught my eye for various reasons, and each will be carrying a different theme. Before I give you the lowdown, here’s a short roundup of two of the designer gardens that caught my attention in Bloom in the Park this year.

Bank Holiday Bloom 2015 might have been one of the wettest and coldest I’ve been to, but the cooler weather did allow Mr G and I the opportunity to get up close and personal with several of the gardens on display. It’s been interesting observing how each year more edible plants have crept into the designs and this year was no exception.

The Irish Country Living garden designed by Fiann Ó Nualláin and Lisa Kelly was created almost entirely from reclaimed wood and metal and awash with edible plants to entice both us and our pollinating friends. There were several inspirations in there from the wooden door ‘shed’ to the corrugated raised beds and I enjoyed seeing the sea-kale in a garden environment having just sown a tray full in the polytunnel at home. This garden encapsulated a lot of the features its sponsoring magazine represents and I’m sure was a favourite of many.

From opulence to poverty, in contrast the GOAL garden was unlike all the others. Entitled ‘What you call a slum, I call home’, this garden designed by Joan Mallon reflected some of the many ways GOAL are working with people living in informal urban settlements (or slums) to help improve their health, livelihood opportunities, and general quality of life. It demonstrated how techniques like micro-gardening, bag gardening, recycling and rain-water harvesting can help families make the most of the uncompromising living environments.

I was at Bloom this year on the invitation of Jim Carroll of to chat with Jim and Ainé Lawlor about the Joy of Veg, a topic I could natter away about for hours! I’ll post a link to the podcast as soon as it becomes available.

Garden Festivals Bloom in Ireland. Rothe House Garden Day in KilkennyRothe House Garden Day

Saturday, 13th June

If Rothe House in Kilkenny has missed your radar then next time you’re visiting I’d urge you to take a look inside. It was built between 1594 and 1610 and consists of 3 houses built one behind the other. Behind the third house are the gardens which contained an orchard, herb and vegetable gardens, a pigeon-house, a well, and a summer-house at the far end. It’s a hidden gem in the middle of Kilkenny city and one not to be missed.

This Saturday a garden day will be taking place at Rothe House and there you’ll find a mixture of speakers and workshops, garden plant sale and craft fair. I’ll be talking from 11 am to 12 noon about growing vegetables in containers. It’s free entry into the garden day and the talks can be attended for just €5 pp each.

Dublin Garden Festival

19th to 21st June

Garden Festivals Bloom in Ireland 2015With Diarmuid Gavin as headline speaker, The Dublin Garden Festival will feature horticultural displays, urban gardens, birds of prey, a Mad Hatters Tea Party, a petting zoo, craft demonstrations, Irish artisan food, live entertainment and much more.

If you’re a floral photographer this might be the garden festival for you as the whole of Christ Church Cathedral and grounds will be adorned with floral installations and props that sound enchanting for the ‘Open your Imagination’ theme. Hundreds of flowers will be used to create a display of contemporary and traditional floral designs, under the lead of artistic director and award-winning floral artist, Christopher White.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of the exhibitors, who we’re being promised will share with us new innovative solutions for the urban garden and home; aquaponics, rooftop potato planters and the Grow Dome Project to name but a few.

Carlow Garden Festival

25th June to 3rd July

Garden Festivals 'Bloom' in IrelandI really enjoyed working on a Green and Vibrant project last year, helping to publicise our local garden Festival here in Carlow and this year’s line up of gardeners is sounding just as exciting.

Monty Don will be opening the nine-day festival and there will be heaps of trails and lectures suitable for all levels of gardening expertise and interest.

I was delighted to hear that Clonegal Community Garden will be joining the garden trail this year, a group I had the pleasure of working with during a short gardening course in 2013. For more information and details of the Carlow Garden Festival’s 2015 programme, take a look at Carlow Tourism’s website.

Soil Conference and Galway Garden Festival

4th to 6th July

During the 4th and 5th July Claregalway Castle are hosting a two-day garden festival that will be followed on Monday, 6th July by a soil conference where we hope to learn from a panel of international, national and local experts as they discuss the state of our soils and the best way to enhance and enrich this vital resource.

The keynote speakers are Dr. Elizabeth Stockdale – a renowned soil scientist from Newcastle University UK and Iain Tolhurst – author and experienced organic grower; many other experienced speakers will join in panel discussions and practical projects will be represented in a display of posters. The cost of the conference is €40 for the day and you can book through National Organic Training Skillnet.

Garden Festivals Bloom in Ireland

For more information about Galway Garden Festival where you’ll find a list of all the guest speakers as well as the programme which includes medieval armoured combat, fire dance, archery display and several other events, take a look at their website. I found it a particularly nice touch that all the gate profits from the festival will be donated to The Simon Community, CBM Ireland and Claregalway Day Care Centre. It’s open daily from 11am to 6pm and Festival Admission is € 8.00 pp per day, Children FREE.

Do you find garden festivals inspire you and give you the opportunity to buy a few bits and pieces at them, or do you tend to head along for the days out and just soak up the atmosphere?


Community Gardens

Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

February 26, 2015
Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

Leighlin Parish Community Garden, County Carlow – Photo credit: Philippa Jennings

When people connect great things can happen and community gardens are no exception. On the 8th March community gardeners from Ireland and Northern Ireland will be meeting in County Galway to help and support one another to gain more from this form of group gardening. The following gives an insight into the network as well as Doorus Community Orchard, the location of our March networking event.

Community Gardens in Ireland

Many of you will be aware that I’m one of the coordinators of the Community Garden Network (CGN) that was established in 2011, primarily to support community gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but also allotments and Community Supported Agriculture schemes.

Generally the CGN offers more of a virtual network of support with its online forum site that enables community gardens to create their own mini websites for free, share photos, events and network in general. However, we also run a Twitter feed as well as a Facebook Page and Group for anyone who doesn’t want to register for the forum and we aim to meet up in person every three or four months in various locations around the country.

Apart from getting a glimpse at other community gardens when we get together in various locations, the networking events also give us an opportunity to meet fellow community gardeners who we’ve struck up friendships with online, as well as swap ideas, pick up tips and learn from one another or any of the expert speakers invited to join us.

Doorus Orchard Community Garden, Kinvara, Co Galway

The next Community Garden Network get together will be taking place in Doorus Orchard Community Garden in Kinvara, County Galway on 8th March from 10am until 4.30pm and anyone involved or interested in community gardening is welcome.

The events are free though if you’ve some spare cash we ask for donations to cover costs as we are a voluntary group with very limited funding and we ask people to bring their own lunch and a bit extra to share. We always try to include an educational element into the networking events and our Galway meet up is no exception.

Community Gardens Connecting in Galway

Community Gardens are great places to educate people about pollinators

Lynn O’Keeffe is hosting us at Doorus Community Orchard and she will be showing us around the walled garden, as well as explaining how the community gardeners there propagate and plan the perennial flowers and vegetables in the garden to attract pollinators.

This is something I’ve a keen interest in having recently joined the Association of Beekeepers as well as signed up to be a Bumblebee Monitor for the Biodiversity Centre (more details here if you’d like to volunteer too). I’m very much looking forward to learning more about planting for pollinators from Lynn.

A bit about Doorus Orchard

Community Garden NetworkThe walled garden that’s attached to Doorus House Youth Hostel dates back to 1866 but became overgrown over the years until it was rescued and replanted thanks to Heritage Council of Ireland funding. The money enabled the community gardeners to plant the land with over 50 heritage apple trees obtained from Irish Seed Savers, as well as many other types of fruit. All of the trees in the orchard were sponsored by local families, which encourages community involvement and they hold regular work and open days there. It’s open all year and anyone is invited to call in and see what’s they’re up to.

If you’re not able to join us for the network meeting, you can find out more about the project here.

Community Garden Network at the Electric Picnic

Community Garden Network at the Electric Picnic

Community Garden Network

Since 2011 the network have met in several locations around the country, including Derry, Dublin, Leitrim, Athlone, Waterford and Cork. We’ve also exhibited two postcard gardens at Bloom Garden Festival in Dublin, and taken a stand at the Electric Picnic in Stradbally, County Kildare. We’ll no doubt be looking for volunteers to step up and help us promote the CGN this year too at various events.

If you’d like to learn more about the community garden network, click on any of the links above or leave a comment below. We’d love to meet you at one of the networking events or hear from you.

Please help us to spread the word about the network – the more we can connect, the more we can help one another.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller