There will always be people for whom the gardening bug is as necessary as breathing, says Peter Dowdall.
There is a perennial fear that we gardeners are a dying breed, that gardening is something waning in interest in the modern world.
Now that everyone is so busy and as our attention spans have reduced to being only able to absorb quick 30-second videos online, gardening is too in-depth, too mundane for our highly developed selves.
We are all so high tech and advanced — all we want is nice outdoor spaces with bright colours, a place to unwind, relax, dine out and enjoy the company of family.
We’re surely too busy to actually want to learn names and how to maintain these spaces?
Too caught up in our smartphones and tablets to be bothered with things like root cuttings and divisions.
Does anyone want to learn about budding roses, grafting fruit trees or pruning shrubs anymore?
Of course they do — none of the above is true.
For whilst there will always be many who will have no interest whatsoever in gardening, in much the same way that I have no knowledge nor desire to obtain any in car mechanics or the finer points of golf, there will always be people for whom the gardening bug is contagious and as necessary as breathing itself.
This feeling and belief that gardening has become a thing of the past has always been with us.
Indeed in September 1816 , a group of professional gardeners gathered in a Donnybrook tavern to drink beer and worry about “the art of gardening falling away and rapidly declining”.
Thus, the Royal Horticultural Society Ireland was born.
The modern RHSI has a more sanguine view of the future of Irish horticulture.
With a mixed membership of hobby and professional gardeners, the organisation offers lectures, workshops, garden visits, overseas tours and hands-on volunteer gardening in the walled garden renovation project at Russborough, Co Wicklow.
There are RHSI partner gardens all over Ireland and a RHSI journal is published three times a year.
On September 30, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland will celebrate its 200th birthday gala with renowned gardeners Monty Don, Dan Hinkley and Roy Lancaster invited to speak at the RDS, Dublin 4.
Chelsea Gold-winning florist, Jenny Murphy, is demonstrating for floral art enthusiasts. Gardeners, active and armchair, whether members of the RHSI or not, are all welcome.
If you’ve never been to one of these meetings, but have thought about it, then this should be the one you start with.
The quality of the speakers at this event is among the best of these islands, each with a passion for what they do and their own inimitable way of imparting that passion and knowledge.
Sharing a common interest can lead to great bonds and it’s always great to meet new people at an event like this.
The RHSI organises tours and events throughout the year and when you travel with a group you tend to get access to gardens and gardeners that you might not always get as an individual.
I always think you get more from a visit when you travel as part of something larger.
I escorted a tour of Garnish Island in West Cork last week, for example, and I think I got as much as I gave in terms of information, hearing local stories and tales of the island which I simply wouldn’t have known if I travelled alone.
The RHSI garden at Russborough is currently being restored to its former glory.
It is being laid out along the lines of the original traditional walled garden with fruits, vegetables and ornamentals growing side by side with a round pond at the centre of the main path.
Education is at the core of the RHSI and also at the garden at Russborough with several show gardens, one celebrating Irish garden plants.
Always encouraging new gardeners and new members, you’re not just invited to visit the garden but also to stay for more than a while and to get involved as a volunteer.
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 because 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 as the rewards are endless.
To become a volunteer you do not require any qualifications, but if you have horticultural experience and would like to pass on your knowledge or practical advice 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 Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org
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