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Albert College Park, Dublin

I was in Albert College Park last weekend, for my first time. If ever embarrassment was warranted in my very photosynthetic world, this was the case for it, for unknowns maybe, some moons ago, 14 years approx of them, I was responsible for the grounds of Dublin City University. And, should gardens be houses, these two would be a semi-detatched. Right, next door to each other.

As parks go and at first glance, the grounds show remnants of estate like appearance with olde entrance steps and piers; tree lines, pines, stalwart in pairs and in rows and the railing entrance almost a little esque of St. Stephens Green. Far more embarrassing than never being there before ? Knowing Its history. I refer of course to 1927.

  • 1838 Albert College began as ‘The Glasnevin Institution’, based at Cuilίn House and became known as ‘The Model Farm’ for agricultural teaching.
  • 1853 After a visit by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort it was called the Albert College.
  • 1900 (c), it was a national centre of excellence in agricultural education, the ‘Albert National Training Institution’.
  • 1926 (c) it was an important centre of University College Dublin (UCD).
  • 1927 (c) Professor Paul A. Murphy put the Albert on the world map when he discovered the cause of the potato famine, the potato blight fungus. The Albert was the training and research centre for horticulture, plant pathology, plant breeding, animal breeding and botany in Ireland. Cuilίn House was the residence of the College’s Director.
  • 1978 UCD departed the Albert for the new Belfield campus and Dublin Corporation developed The Albert into Hampstead Park with new planting and recreational grounds.

albert college park

It’s a little War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park, in the over shadowing sense, but with that also comes its upsides. I walked there with Ella and my good friend Blaithín. Botanical eloquence, in appearance, it may not be, but serenity it certainly is.

As I walked with the parambulator, Blaithín quized my botanical latin versus what was noted on the plaques, which she then translated into Irish. And a little like being on Inis Mór and being more Irish, I did feel more at ease knowing the who’s who of Irish horticulture had been here at some point.

On our way round, we got dragged into a tug o’ war family games day that just happened to be taking place. My manly strength aside and far, far more noticeable was the sound of laughter from the many and varying facets of the park. Now that, is what makes green spaces the stuff of legends.

Joggers, kick abouts, play areas and sports pitches noted; as a space outside I love this place. It’s subtle, like meeting Ronnie Wood and him not picking a guitar up, just in case you might think of him a show off ; In reality, we know, I and he. The history is just too much.

12 New Plants To The Market – From Ireland

I have interviewed my good friend Pat Fitzgerald before. Twice actually.

But when a Kilkenny man brings 12 new plants to the market, already employs 35 people and exports [some as far as Japan] over 85% of all of his plants grown…. I think it’s more than news worthy. An Irish man selling Japanese style plants in Japan….? Add to that the fact that he’d be considered quite young in an Irish nursery business to have achieved what he has.

To horticulture, some of the plants have just come online, most have never been seen before and others have already award winning. For those not in the plant breeding business and for want of a better definition, put simply, somebody has invented these plants. More details on that below.

From a plant enthusiasts perspective, a picture is one thing. A video is another. Take a look and see what you think.

Pictures and descriptions are below.

  1. Carex oshimensis Evergreen is similar to the species form of the Oshima sedge from Japan with wonderful simple brown tipped abundances of flower in Spring. Almost 1 million Carex plants will be produced by Pat in 2010. Evergreen provides a simple natural and relaxing under planting or feature plant in containers and this from was selected for its more compact growth and depth of colour.
  2. Libertia ixiodes Goldfinger bred at Naturally Native Nurseries in New Zealand and marketed in Europe by Plantipp Netherlands on behalf of New Zealand’s Lyndale Nurseries Kiwi Gold native New Zealand plant collection. Ideal for containers in the colder regions and mass planting in coastal and milder parts. Goldfinger will tolerate temperatures of -5 C to -7 C but below these temperatures will need protection with heavy fleece covering. This fantastic plant has white flowers in May and the foliage colour changes from butter yellow to old gold as temperatures decrease through Autumn and Winter.
  3. Carex trifida Rekohu Sunrise Another representative from New Zealand’s native flora. This is the first introduction from the trifida species of Carex and in New Zealand is commonly known as Muttonbird Sedge due to the flowers resembling the feet of the native Muttonbird. Rekohu Sunrise was bred by Mr Terry Hatch of Joy Nurseries in New Zealand. Rekohu Sunrise can be cut right back to tidy it up in March /early April and will produce vigorous but compact shoots of wonderful bright foliage.
  4. Ophiopogon nigrascens and its other mondo grass relatives are some of hardiest, functionally attractive and most versatile dwarf ground cover plants available. Slow growing ground hugging and with wonderful detail in flower and berry what more can one ask from a plant but there is more. Ophiopogon nigrascens is drought tolerant, will grow in shade semi shade and full sun and is hardy to at least -15 C. This Japanese native provides attractive ground cover in the garden and develops lilac coloured flower spikes which on mature plants set attractive black berries. There is also an improved variety of this wonderful plant and its called Blackbeard. Bred by Steve Yandell from Penzance it has faster growth, longer leaves and a greater clumping habit.
  5. Canna Tropicanna is a Tropical perennial plant introduced by Mr Keith Kirsten from South Africa named and marketed around the world by Anthony Tesselaar International. Tropicanna has led to two other varieties, Tropicanna Black and Tropicanna Gold. Canna Generally has a reputation for being difficult to grow by some people, but it can be a wonderful addition to the small garden and should not be ignored for those of us with foliage colour lust. Tropicanna also has amazing flowers.
  6. Royal Hawaiian Colocasia go on sale in Europe generally in Spring early Summer 2011 although some baby plants will be available a little earlier. The collection comes from an internationally acclaimed breeder Dr John J Cho who has achieved outstanding success with his new line of ornamental Colocasias.
  7. Cordyline australis Karo Kiri is a most unusual variety of the common Cordyline we see all over Ireland in our coastal towns and cites. Karo Kiri is an easily maintained dwarf form and is versatile in containers or small gardens. It comes from New Zealand breeder and selector Ross Baybliss
  8. Carex oshimensis Everest Pat has been growing Carex for 20 years now and having been bought stock of the well known Carex Evergold as a birthday present (another long story) the year he set up FitzGerald Nurseries. Now the biggest producer of Carex oshimensis possibly in the world. Carex oshimensis thrives in the Irish climate and is a versatile plant for the garden or containers. Sometimes misused it leads to unsightly clumps in exposed and sodden landscapes. It is ideally suited to sheltered urban gardens, will thrive in semi shade situations and in containers giving the most wonderful white margins seen on any plant. Everest was picked as an entrant in the recent American Idols plant competition in USA and won a Silver medal at Plantarium in Boskoop Netherlands.
  9. Carex oshimensis Everillo was first launched at the wonderful Hillsborough Show in Northern Ireland earlier in May and was only just discovered in 2008 and is set for a worldwide release in Spring 2012. This is how long it takes even a relatively fast to produce plant such as Everillo. A fantastic addition for shade and semi shade and is a Japanese native bred for its colour.
  10. Phormium cookianum Black Adder now sold to Japan, Australia, its native New Zealand USA and most European countries. Black Adder was selected over 6 years ago has been a wonderful success story adopted by many nurseries including leading New Zealand Nursery Lyndale Nurseries as the number one black / purple Phormium. Black Adder won best container plant award for FitzGerald Nurseries at the worlds largest professional Horticulture Show IPM Essen Germany in 2008.
  11. Yucca gloriosa Bright Star a winner at IPM Essen 2009 with first prize for best patio container plant. Bright Star was discovered at Walberton Nursery West Sussex England by Mr Tim Crowther, promoted by Plants For Europe and introduced into production in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Bright Star is an outstanding colour selection of the hardy and drought tolerant Yucca gloriosa. It has pink colouring which comes during drought or cold weather conditions.
  12. Cordyline fruticosa Caruba Black is a tropical Cordyline from Anthony Tesselaar and produced exclusively in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Unlike its more hardy cousin C. australis Caruba Black needs temperatures over 3 C to maintain its attractive appearance and colour so must only be used as a Summer dot plant to give a tropical exotic look to borders or containers. It can even be cut back in spring to encourage multiple stems.
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Water Conservation

Today I discovered some of plant collection had been, put simply, close on fried. It’s rare for me to complain about the weather…. but here’s my situation.

For gardens that are new, or newly planted [Hi Julie and Terry 😉 ],for best results and knowing that the hose must be used…. try water at night time. It ensures the plant isn’t competing with the sun for water intake and therefore gets the maximum return from the watering and your time in doing so. Also one may find the water, combined with the days sun can act like a magnifying glass of sorts and cook the leaves slightly.

When these water charges do come in – the county councils will most likely up the price of those water butts too. My advice get one what you can sooner.

If however it is newly selected areas of planting, you may find that the water butts are an option to be considered.

As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or direct via audioboo or you subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here.

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Osnabruck Botanical Gardens [botanischer garten], Germany

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In 1984 The Botanical Gardens of Osnabruck were born. To celebrate the gardens 25th anniversary I met with Curator Dr Nikolai Friesen [saturday 6th June] to find out a little more about this young yet amazing horticultural gem of north Germany

Opened in 1984 the 8.6 hectare site includes 5.6 of which were formerly a quarry. Similar to other botanical gardens, this one also includes the Osnabruck Horticultural College and also what is known as the ‘green school’ [grune schule] from where courses are held and run.

It is estimated that 70,000 visitors pass through the gates every year. Not bad for such young gardens but what is more amazing is whilst I was there on a Saturday, 4 weddings were to take place, an art exhibition and a butterfly exhibition! A great way to attract new visitors…

The truth is that some botanical gardens, to the non plant/ botanical purist, can be quiet boring… Not in this case! It does follow ‘the rules’. But it is young and that makes it a little different giving it almost an edge on some of the [so many] others I have been to.

The people were amazing, the grounds were superb from the very helpful Jan Eickmann employed by the town right down to Ingeberg who works in the coffee shop voluntarily [her husband is also a volunteer] and makes great coffee 😉 Thank you!

Would I return? In the morning. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. 5/5.

Osnabruck is an amazing town brimming with culture on my way through the alt-stadt [old town] I the honour to meet Eduard from Old Time Jazz. They were simply doing what they love the most… enjoy!

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allium ursinum.. eh…? allium triquetrum

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This is wild garlic. It is the ultimate in free food. You’ll find it in most hedgegrows and damp woodlands. Go and grab yourself a little clump… a *little* clump I said! Plant it in and around the base of some hedges, near a ditch or a damp patch.

Around this time it is a simple blanket of white flowers. And so very pretty. You’ll know it because the beautiful waft that will come your direction…. will let you know.

Here’s the low-down so I don’t bore you to absolute botanical tears

  • it’s related to this little beauty, the Allium rosenbachianum 😯
  • it’s also related to supermarket garlic clove, the Allium sativum
  • the difference here is the leaf is used for the flava’.
  • because of that you can crop away to your hearts content, forever!
  • it tastes a lot milder
  • great substitute for garlic & spring onions & you won’t be ‘stinky breath’ 😆

Unknowns to most all of the photos above look the same… maybe? What you have is two brothers than can do the same job. Because for thr purest, there are two types of plant in those 6 images. The wider leafed single flower is the Ramsons or Allium ursinum….. images number 4,5 & 6. While the ‘3 cornenerd leek or the Allium triquetrum is more grass like in leaf and the flowers come in little clusters [rather than in singles] – see images 1,2 & 3.

A little ode to Calvin for reminding me all about this… funny how he managed to do so… 🙂

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