Nineteen gardening gurus from across the UK and Ireland headline the Carlow Garden Festival programme for 2019. The festival features an appealing mix of workshops, garden tours, specialist talks, Q&A sessions, films and long table lunches in gardens, garden centres and forests located on Carlow’s Garden Trail. Headlining the festival this year will be gardening icon Monty Don who makes a welcome return at a much-anticipated talk at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Saturday 3rd August.
A truly entertaining day, suitable for all the family, kicks off the festival programme on July 27th as Colin Stafford Johnson, acclaimed Irish filmmaker and broadcaster 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. He will then make his way to the magnificent Huntington Castle in Clonegal where a film of his work followed by an informative questions and answers session will take place. The opening weekend also features another of the festival’s highlights with a talk by Adam Frost, UK TV presenter and multi-gold medal winner at The Chelsea Flower Show in Duckett’s Grove Historic House and Walled Garden on July 28th. Later that day, Fionnuala Fallon of the Irish Times will impart her great gardening knowledge in a tour of Patthana Gardens in Kiltegan.
On July 29th Frances MacDonald of the Bay Garden in Camolin, County Wexford visits the Delta Sensory Gardens while Shirley Lanigan author of Open Gardens of Ireland gives a unique tour of the artist Philippa Bayliss’ garden at The Meadows in Myshall Village. Another highlight will be the return of Neil Porteous, head gardener at the outstanding Mount Stewart Gardens in County Down. He promises an exciting journey through the historic setting of Altamont Gardens on July 30th with its fine plant collections and ancient oak woodland. Later that day Steven Desmond, author, gardener and County Life columnist makes his first appearance at the festival as he gives a talk at Hardymount Gardens. Burtown House and Gardens will play host to two wonderful gardeners, namely Carl Wright on July 31st and Paul Martin on August 3rd.
The much loved and very knowledgeable Jekka McVicar, internationally recognised for growing and designing sustainable herb gardens and health and well-being gardens will make her festival debut at Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens near Bagenalstown on July 31st.
Aaron Bertelsen vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter visits Shankill Castle on August 1st for a vegetable gardening talk. Visitors can enjoy a garden-to-table feast thereafter, celebrating summer produce from the on-site walled garden. The afternoon talk features “plant mad” Rory Newell of Blarney Castle Gardens as he discusses his recent trips to northern Vietnam in search of rare plants.
The festival programme always features a special night time event in the iconic VISUAL arts centre in Carlow Town. This year join gardening correspondent with The Guardian Alys Fowler on August 1st. Whether you’re new to gardening or looking to spruce up your garden patch, balcony or windowsill, this talk is full of practical advice and tips. The on-site Lennon’s Restaurant, winner of the best service award for Leinster in the 2019 Restaurant Association of Ireland’s awards is the perfect choice for a pre-event dinner where good, honest and eclectic food is served with passion and a great commitment to local.
Altamont Plant Sales in the grounds of Altamont Gardens offers visitors the chance to see both Troy Scott Smith, head gardener at Sissinghurst and Dan Pearson, internationally renowned landscape and garden designer on August 2nd. This is a rare opportunity to catch speakers of such high calibre in one venue, on the same day, at a very reasonable price of €35. A special garden party atmosphere hallmarks this day, where gardening and food in the on-site café can be enjoyed at a relaxed pace.
Another festival first is for Alasdair Moore, Manager of Estate and Gardens at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall who will give a talk at the beautiful Huntington Castle and Gardens on August 3rd. Later that evening a large audience is expected for Monty Don whose subject “East meets West – and is entranced” will focus on his recent visits to Japanese gardens and the lessons he has learned for developing his own garden at Longmeadow. A whole evening of activity can be enjoyed in Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven where visitors can enjoy a visit to Arboretum Inspirational Gardens, a pre-event meal in the on-site Rachel’s Garden Café and late shopping until 10 p.m. Other festival highlights include Dermot O’ Neill, well known to viewers of RTĒ who appears in Rathwood on Sunday, August 4th and and Monica Alvarez, Dulux Supergarden judge who visits Delta Sensory Gardens on Monday, August 5th.
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 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 the Carlow Garden Trail throughout the festival which this year features the new gardening attraction of BEAM in Bagenalstown and three bio-diversity options in the recently opened An Gairdín Beo in Carlow Town and two tree trails in Myshall and Ballon. Tickets for each event can be booked on www.carlowgardentrail.com