Gardening: It's show time for all ages at Russborough

Gardening:  It's show time for all ages at Russborough
Visitors Leila, 7, and Cara, 3, Armstrong meet Stanley, the great grey owl at the RHSI Walled Garden at Russborough. Picture: Joanna Barry

The parkland setting of Russborough will be the setting for what promises to be a fun day out on July 28, says Peter Dowdall.

The walled garden at Russborough House in Co Wicklow was established in the 18th century to provide the owners and staff of the estate with fruit, vegetables and flowers. 

The garden had been largely neglected for many years but in 2011 the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland took on the task of regenerating it under a 25-year licence agreement with the Alfred Beit Foundation.

The RHSI garden is being laid out along the lines of the original garden with the area to the north of the central path, now almost fully re-developed with double herbaceous borders, a fruit plot, herb bed, an ornamental area with curved beds and wildflower circle backed by a sweetpea fence.

There are productive perennial and rotational vegetable beds as well as both tender perennials and annual edibles in one of the existing glasshouses. 

A new rose display area was planted in 2018. The garden is managed organically without sprays or pesticides and the use of peat is being phased out, with alternative products being researched.

It seems fitting therefore that this walled garden with all its inspiration and beauty will be the setting for the Garden & Landscape Design Association’s (GLDA) garden design clinics which are being held as part of the 2019 RHSI Garden Show.

The RHSI and The Alfred Beit Foundation have teamed up for a third year to host a garden show on Sunday, July 28 (10am to 5pm), in the beautiful parkland setting of Russborough, Blessington, Co Wicklow.

This year, the show will focus on sustainability and biodiversity with plenty to occupy the experienced and the novice gardener, children and families. 

The day’s activities will take place under five main banners — Grow, Learn, Explore, Shop and Eat — and attractions will include plant stalls from some of Ireland’s leading nurseries, including Camolin Potting Shed, Leamore Nursery, Rare Plants Ireland and Shady Plants Nursery.

There will also be select stalls dealing in garden accessories, cut flowers, artisan foods and botanic-inspired art and craft, all complementing the beautiful plant offering.

The walled garden will play host to music from the Ballymore Eustace Concert Band, demonstrations, workshops, RHSI garden tours and more, as well as providing gardening inspiration in its own right.

Ticketholders will also benefit from all of Russborough’s many amenities, including walks, a fairy trail for children, 25% discounts to tour Russborough House or visit the National Birds of Prey Centre — a special flight demonstration is also scheduled as part of the day.

Show director Elaine McDevitt said: “We’re delighted by the surge of support for the show, from speakers, gardeners, nurseries and more. 

"It’s an honour to bring so many interesting people together in this most beautiful of settings, to help spread an important message and have some fun in the process.”

RHSI Show chairperson Robert Myerscough added: “‘The RHSI has promoted horticulture in all its forms for over two centuries and is committed to education and biodiversity. 

"This Show has quickly become a cornerstone of our annual calendar and we look forward to welcoming all to Russborough on July 28.”

The walled garden at Russborough is being restored and maintained by volunteers so why not stay for more than a few hours on the 28th. 

If the bad back is at you or the bones are getting a bit creaky then don’t let that be an excuse not to get involved as help is needed not just in gardening but also in recording, labelling and more. 

If you have the time and this sounds like something you may enjoy then do get involved.

Gardening is a social pursuit and as a hobby it’s great as you can take it, physically, at whatever level you want to but it’s always good to meet with new, like-minded people and thanks to both the physical and mental health benefits of being outside in the garden, volunteering here will mean you can cancel the therapist and gym subscription. 

I couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend a few hours than to potter around the walled garden here in Wicklow, potting, pulling a few weeds, labelling and propagating.

To become a volunteer you do not require any qualifications, but if you have horticultural experience and would like to pass on your knowledge to others, there will be lots of fellow members anxious to learn from you. 

If you are just starting to garden then this is a place to learn. For more information on this contact volunteering@rhsi.ie. 

Advance admission tickets for the show on the 28th are available now for €8 per adult via Eventbrite and rhsi.ie

Admission on the day will cost €10, or €8 for RHSI members and Russborough Season ticket-holders. Children go free. 

Parking is free.

Back to basics

If a moss-free lawn is on your wishlist then now is the time for summer action.

Avoid many of the moss-killing remedies including lawn sand as many are based upon sulphate of iron which will leave you with brown/orange, dead moss instead.

The iron content works by decreasing the soil pH and making the soil too acidic for moss growth but in the longer term, it creates a perfect environment for moss to grow back and as acidic soil is not the preferred pH for good grass growth, it really is not the solution.

Better off to go back to basics and remember one simple principle, that the best defence against moss and weeds in your lawn is healthy grass growth.

Lawn Gold Summer Green applied now will maintain the soil at the optimum pH for good grass growth and which won’t allow moss to get a foothold.

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