Irish Garden Plant Society – Dublin Annual Plant Sale


It took place Sunday 10th October in Our lady of Delours Church Glasnevin, starting at 11am. I’d got the nod about this from Jane Powers – as was announced in the gardening podcast.

I got there a little after 12 and as Jane had rightly predicted, the scrum, it seemed had already taken place. In plant numbers, the place had been ransacked 😉

Whilst I may jest, it was a great plant sale and a great morning. And yes this is what I enjoy doing on my days off. They say it’s the people that make a place. My gardening knowledge held tightly in my back pocket, I proceeded through as your average Joe punter….

Me: How much for the daffs….?

Man: They’re one fifty each….

Me: How many for a fiver….?

Man: I’ll give you three bags and you can have 50 cent back…..

Yes it is bulb and tree planting season. A service I provide. I still bought some. That aside, I thought that was my fill of humour until I was offered a Christmas cactus…..

the only time it doesn’t flower is Christmas….

…I was told as the place erupted into laughter.

What was great was the collections there, the oddities, the rarities, the advice that free flowed as discussions continued to be disected and re-evolved. There were those who came prepared as trollies were wheeled out with copious amounts of home grown specialities, whilst others went in search of that something more unique and singular.

I on the other hand, like a woman [no offence to those with only one pair] who can never have too many pairs of shoes bought plants and books that I already have more than enough of and didn’t need 😉 that said, I was more than happy to take my new babies home.

There is something heart warming and non-governmental about a coloured pricing scheme and a €2 entry fee. Something amazing and great. The work, as I know it is all voluntary, free gratis and where people grow plants becuase its fun and it creates discussion and there’s a story that lies in every one of those plants.

I saw Chestnut trees growing in lemonade bottles – why not I thought. The leaves were yellowing, as they should be. But I know this wouldn’t make a saleable plant in a commercial operation.

Personally me, for the first time in over 16 years I am no longer a member of any horticultural related body or association. Mainly because, in short, I needed to get back to basics. Peter the gardener, garden lover, plant grower or tree hugger as some may call it. I think I may just be changing my status in the member of regard.

Membership is €30. Family membership is €42

Fancy some gardening, as it was intended….? Just send them an email

ADDRESS: The Honorary Secretary,
IGPS, c/o the National Botanic Gardens,
Dublin 9, Ireland

What they say…..

Sadly some of our garden plants have been lost from cultivation – due to changes in fashion or difficulties in propagation on a commercial scale. It was in recognition of our horticultural heritage that the Irish Garden Plant Society was founded in 1981 in order to research, locate and propagate such plants so that future generations may continue to enjoy them in years to come.

In closing I suppose some may say, it’s the above writing that’d put them off joining. Others say it’s the stigma attached that they’ll feel out of place due to being a different era of gardener. My thoughts for what they are worth…. I remember giving a talk some time ago on 17th century landscaping and design. I noted that it was easier than 18th century landscaping…. by 100 years. Call it what you may, but plants are simply just plants, to me.


Ilex – Holly


The aquifoliaceae evergreens and [unknows to some] sometimes deciduous shrubs, trees and [once again, possibly surprising to some] climbers are a genus of about 400 species. Famed for their berries and foliage, there is a lot more to these general stalwarts than meets the eye.

Take a listen to this ….

Their flowers are generally borne from spring to summer depending on type and climate. But it is after here that one should pay attention if anything more than that [ie. berry] is required, as the male and female flowers are borne generally upon seperate plants. ie they are monoecious/ they require a polinator – or – in more simple terms, the male and female come as seperate plants. That said, they can also come as dioecious ie. having both male and female flowering parts.

The problem with this is, should one purchase the wrong [?] plant, ie. the male, one will never see a berry at all, as they do not produce them. If one does buy a male – to go with the female, or a plant that is both male and female…. take your time and read back if you must, one should see berries – the reason, most likely for which you bought the plant.

I personally recommend the following:

  • Ilex Gold King [female]
  • Ilex JC Van Taol [dioecious]
  • Ilex Aureum Marginata [dioecious]

The great thing about Holly’s  is, that should one follow the basic rules…. ie. buy once and buy well and plant it right – one has, in simple terms, a plant for life. Personally, I like the fact that there’s a male and a female in the garden together. A happy couple, sort of…. And that makes me smile. 😀

They’re in berry all over St Stephens Green at the moment…. I bought the last 2 potted, but it is coming into rootball season and I think I’ll be getting a few beauties for my own garden this year. What about you….?

For more gardening news – listen to the #sodcast


Pronounced Nip-hof-e-a [I like the k in as a almost semi silent] Famed commonly as the red hot poker, in the more common varieties it is easy to see why it picked up the name. But not all can be labelled as such ie. by their appearance. These plants of the Asphodelaceae/ liliaceae are a genus of about 70 species and are also commonly called the torch lilly – seems to make a lot more sense to me when you look around….?

They can be considered perennials, evergreen or deciduous. Bet you not everyone knew that ? But generally, they are a clump forming plant used more often in herbaceous borders. That said, it not always how I have chosen to use them.

They are a hardy enough plant that can grow up to 6′ tall – I’ve rarely seen that – and tend to die back in the winter months. In this they can look a little unsightly

The yellow variety is Kniphofia Bees Lemon. It can grow to 3′ tall and 2′ wide. It flowers late summer to autumn. Better looking than the one above…?

I particularly like the kniphofia for the fact that they can be propagated by division. It’s pretty much plants for free if you get the right variety. Personally I don’t like the ‘red hot poker’ I much prefer the ‘torch lilly’ – does that make sense ? And I am not one generally for using the non-botanical names.

If you are thinking of buying some plants to touch up the garden, these are a great investment. You’ll have free cut flowers and free plants to swap or give away once you get past the first season.

It is October, almost, watering is not really something you will need to worry about – make life easy on yourself and the plant you are investing in, buy some of these guys, get one of the odd[er] varieties if you can and brighten up your days for next season. You’ll thank me for it, I promise! Go forth and start planting.

Apparently Autumn and Winter [and spring of coursre] are the quietest time in the gardeners calender…. not likely. Not if you are extremely wise 😉

The [Un]usual Planter

Here, you have that. You might be able to do something with it….


That’s quite a regular statement I hear actually. Surprised ? I wasn’t. It’s not the most unusual object I’ve ever been handed. I like the odd challenge and this one was a doddle.

Yesterday I filled the container with some pebble. More to weight it down. It also looks really good. I also had a few hand fulls of pebble in my workshop, so it suited. It also saves on compost and in this case I didn’t have enough 😉

Helen had given me some spider plant babies a while ago that had come on really well…. and I had a spot inside where I felt it would look really good.

Total cost. €0.00

Personally, I’d be over the moon if someone gave me that as a gift.

Basil – Ocimum basilicum


The Ocimum [labiatae/ lamiaceae] are a genus of about 365 species of aromatic annuals and evergreen herbs. But – this is not lavender we are discussing. This is the herb we know as basil. With that in mind I am only interested in one type.

There are other varieties, but I have chose what I regard a the more common basil [to me] or what is know commercially as sweet basil. It is an annual and therefore completes its life cycle in one season.

Either or the entire of the ocimum basilicum’s are renowned as either short lived perennials or annuals. They are tender little things that, horticulture aside most people have very little, or less luck with. Any deviation from that truth and your pants are on fire or you work for NASA – and yes they can hear you. Back to the herbs…

For me, I prefer to grow mine from seed and there literally is no major secret [there is of course 😉 ] to doing so. Simply fill a jam jar with compost. Firm slightly and place on the kitchen window ledge. Add a little patience and play the waiting game. Some say, sow them in rediculous rows 8″ apart – but I like to scatter a few across the top and stuff the rule book. Its more fun as well.

The scent from them is amazing. I chose not to feed them either. Its just me and food crops. And if I end up with too much from cropping…. I freeze them to get me through the winter. Next year, I’ll start all over again. As a btw, you should get about 300 seeds in a pack… use what you must and put the rest [in the packet] in the freezer.