May 10 Talk: Letta Jones ‘Gardens of Ireland’

The Landscape Horticulturist Letta Jones gave a delightful talk to members based on her experiences touring the lush gardens of South West Ireland with groups of horticultural students.

Warmed by the Gulf Stream this beautiful part of Ireland with it’s myriad coastal inlets  offers a series of micro climates that provide interesting growing conditions for many plants and species not seen in Great Britain.

Mostly acidic soil and the warm climate allows rhododendrons, acers, camellias etc to flourish throughout the Summer months.

Many of our garden plants such as fuchsias  and crocosmia grow wild for miles and miles along the roads to make wonderful and colourful hedgerows.

Letta’s tour took in several private gardens as well as grander properties like Bantry House whose ruined stables provides a stunning scenario for colourful climbers. The formal garden features an unusual circle of giant wisterias overlooking a carefully cultivated knot garden.

One of the private gardens (Premies Garden) near Cork has been tended lovingly by a couple over the last 30 years containing many exotic plants sourced from seeds obtained from Southern African countries including Namibia. Some seeds need to be nurtured over heat to allow germination. The lady of the house has a series of billy cans hung over the cooking range to cater for this process. She admits her husband’s dinner can often be seriously delayed during this time!

The famous cookery school in Ballymaloe has an extensive series of individual gardens within its grounds with a fabulous parterre encasing every kind of herb imaginable plus several large kitchen gardens to supply the fresh vegetables for all the budding Jamie Olivers to hone their culinary skills!

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