Twenty gardening gurus from across the UK and Ireland headline the Carlow Garden Festival for 2022 in a special programme which also co-incides with its 20th anniversary.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s programme Robert Miller, Chairperson of the Carlow Garden Trail stated “We are very excited and looking forward to welcoming back internationally acclaimed gardeners from the UK and Ireland and delighting visitors with what promises to be a great garden festival, the only one of its scale in Ireland”.
This year’s programme returns to the familiar format of more recent years with an appealing line-up of UK and Irish speakers delivering a mix of workshops, garden tours, specialist talks and Q&A sessions combined with a range of great foodie options that include long table suppers, afternoon tea and evening meals in gardens and garden centres along the Carlow Garden Trail.
UK gardeners Adam Frost and James Alexander-Sinclair open the festival this year in a much-anticipated talk at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Friday, July 22nd 2022.
Presenting two garden designs they have previously worked upon, expect to hear about key design principles that guide the creation of an average sized modern garden that can then be applied to any sized garden. Friendly banter yet serious gardening information and advice will be the focus for this garden talk, along of course with a steely determination to capture the audience’s imagination and their votes!
Earlier that day Melissa Culhane, award-winning illustrator of Naturama and My Naturama Journal leads a nature drawing walk along the magical banks of the River Barrow in the garden village of Leighlinbridge. Bring your sketchpad and pencils and draw what you see along the way – expect to go rooting in hedgerows and spotting birds!. Nature and wildlife is a theme relevant to every generation so this an afternoon that will be enjoyed by all age groups.
The opening weekend also features another of the festival’s highlights with a talk by Joe Swift in Duckett’s Grove Historic House and Walled Gardens, near Carlow Town. In a career that has spanned over 20 years as a presenter with Gardeners World and most of the RHS flower shows, Joe has some great behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes of working with Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don and Carol Klein as well as others. A truly engaging speaker, Joe will also chart the gardening trends that have come and gone over the years and also talk about some of the gardens he has designed for TV.
Other speakers over the opening weekend include Leonie Cornelius at Delta Sensory Gardens, Fionnuala Fallon in Huntington Castle and a new venue on the festival programme, the Barrow Experience Gardens in Bagenalstown with Shirley Lanigan.
Arthur Shackleton promises insightful garden tours of Delta Sensory Gardens and The Meadows on Monday, July 25th, which draw on his vast knowledge of good garden design in a career which has spanned more than 40 years.
History and design combine in Tuesday’s events when Turtle Bunbury, renowned historian traces the history of Altamont Gardens and the various families involved in its creation and development between the 18th and 20th centuries including Doyne, St George, Borrer, K’Eogh, Lecky-Watson and North. Later that day, at nearby Hardymount Gardens, Arthur Cole from the Newt in Somerset traces the development of this amazing garden from 1690 to the present day with a special focus on the famed garden designer Penelope Hobhouse. This is a great opportunity to hear about one of the UK’s most exciting horticultural projects of the 21st century. This talk concludes with a terrific afternoon tea provided by Ballymaloe trained Justina McKeever and her husband Mark on the lawn at Hardymount.
As the interest in unusual plants continues to grow, Orlaith Murphy’s talk “Petal to Plate” in Burtown House will provide helpful advice and information on picking plants that make maximum use of plots in environmentally sustainable ways. Continuing the environmental theme in Shankill Castle, Stephanie Hafferty provides workshops based on the principles of no dig gardening and seasonal plant-based recipes before a terrific seasonal three-course farm-to-fork supper club concludes proceedings with a menu inspired by her book Creative Kitchen using produce from Shankill Castle’s organic farm.
British garden historian Belinda Jupp makes her first visit to the Carlow Garden Festival to speak at Borris House on Thursday, July 28th. Belinda discusses many of the elegant restored walled gardens throughout Ireland, revealing methods used during her long and distinguished career in reviving and replanting dilapidated gardens.
James Wong, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew-trained botanist, international author and one of the UK’s top garden designers makes a welcome return to the Carlow Garden Festival with two talks –Horticultural Happy Pill and the Great Indoors – in Kilgraney Herb Gardens, near Bagenalstown and VISUAL in Carlow Town. Lennon’s Restaurant, located on-site at VISUAL 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 Tom Coward, head gardener at Gravetye Manor andJim Gardiner, Curator of RHS Gardens Wisley for over 25 years. 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 Ken Cox of the famed Glendoick Gardens in Scotland, who presents his most popular and spectacular talk at Huntington Castle on Saturday, July 30th, a visual feast of his 2018 publication Woodland Gardening.
The talk covers the history and evolution of the woodland gardening style from China and Japan to Europe and around the world. Later that day Finola Reid leads a garden tour around Burtown House and Gardens exploring the delights of these beautiful gardens, while sharing her passion for planting.
The vibrant community gardens of Carlow take centre stage over the last weekend of the festival in conjunction with the European Urbact Ru:rban project when the Holistic Gardener Fiann O’ Nuallain visits An Gairdín Beo on Sunday, July 31st. A compelling afternoon of activities is promised for anybody interested in the health benefits of growing your own food and the bridge building that happens within community garden spaces. President of the Tree Council of Ireland Éanna Ní Lamhna brings the festival to a close when she leads a walk around the Myshall Tree Trail in Myshall Village while also explaining biodiversity and sustainability in simple, no jargon terms.
Chairman of Carlow Tourism, Michael Walsh noted “Over 10 days the Carlow Garden Festival showcases the diversity of the Carlow Garden Trail which has a collection of sixteen gardening attractions ranging from great old gardens to smaller gardens and award-winning garden centres. The Carlow Garden Festival caters for everyone from novice gardeners to garden connoisseurs and with special accommodation packages available for the festival, it is the perfect place to consider for a holiday break this July”.
For more information and to book tickets click here
For a copy of the event brochure call 059-9130411