Ballymaloe Garden Festival

Ballymaloe House, renowned for its culinary prowess, held its first two-day Garden Festival on the last weekend in August.

In the kitchen garden

In the kitchen garden

Situated in a 400 acre estate in east Cork, Ballymaloe is just a few miles from delightful coastal scenery.

Ballycotton Lighthouse

Ballycotton Lighthouse

The Festival promised much.

A line-up of speakers on subjects as varied as Growing Food in Cities to producing An Award Winning Show Garden.

The only difficulty was what to choose?

Good running shoes and a bottle of water are good tips, as one darted from the Grainstore to the next event in the Kitchen Garden.

Ballymaloe walled kitchen garden

Ballymaloe walled kitchen garden

It’s always a risk getting specialists, untrained public speakers, to hold an audience’s attention for perhaps an hour or more.

However, seasoned raconteurs like Helen Dillon entertained us with her tales of 40 years gardening at her wonderful Dublin garden.

Helen Dillon's entertaining talk.

Helen Dillon’s entertaining talk.

http://www.dillongarden.com/html/photo_gallery.html

Gerard Mullen guided us through the process which led to his Best in Show garden at the Bloom Festival in June – from the wild natural landscape which inspired him, through to the actual build.

Gerard Mullen's talk in The Grainstore

Gerard Mullen’s talk in The Grainstore

His Show Garden at Bloom combined his love of Irish native plants, contrasting with modern materials .

President and Mrs Higgins in Gerard Mullen's Bloom Show Garden. June 2013

President and Mrs Higgins in Gerard Mullen’s Bloom Show Garden. June 2013

There were talks on bees and birds and making compost and a tour of the kitchen garden with the Head Gardener, Susan Turner.

Ballymaloe kitchen garden - the chef gathers beetroot for soup and for roasting.

Ballymaloe kitchen garden – the chef gathers beetroot for soup and for roasting.

And of course, if you were peckish, you could pop along to the Big Shed where there were more choices to be made…

The Big Bus serving mini pizzas and more.

The Big Bus serving mini pizzas and more.

Local spice company Green Saffron serving curries

Local spice company Green Saffron serving curries

The sun shone, there was a relaxed atmosphere, and some picnicked in the lovely setting of east Cork.

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 090

Inside the Big Shed, local craftspeople displayed their wares..

Wonderful hand crafted Irish hardwood chopping boards and more from Carrignavar Timber

Lovely hand crafted Irish hardwood chopping boards and more from
Ken Curtin, Carrignavar Timber

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 027

Matthew Thompson, sculptor, showing us how it’s done.

Brown Envelope Seeds’ lovely stand, its organic open-pollinated seeds are grown in West Cork.

Brown Envelope Seeds

Brown Envelope Seeds

Madeline McKeever  gave a talk about The Forgotten Art of Seed Saving.

Apple storage rack available from Brown Envelope Seeds

Apple storage rack available from Brown Envelope Seeds

Next year, Ireland has been chosen to host the 11th World Flower Show, “A Floral Odyssey”, 18th-22nd June at the RDS, and there were people on hand to make sure we made a note in our diaries – really looking forward to hearing more.

But what would a Garden Festival be without  the presence of nurseries?

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 036

Very few returned home without a tray of veg seedlings from Hennessy Nurseries….

Pat Hennessy with his pesticide free plants

Pat Hennessy with his pesticide free plants

… 0r perennials from the tempting display by Caherhurley Nursery

Perennials from Caherhurley Nursery

Perennials from Caherhurley Nursery

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 086

Gert Stam of Caherhurley Nursery

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 023

Stam’s Bamboo Nursery – do check out their website http://www.stambamboo.com/

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 028

Lily Rose Murphy – specialist in exotic plants.

There were musicians and falconry displays,

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 038

and a fun children’s education area.

The Children's Area

The Children’s Area

and a raffle to win Gee-up’s manure soil enricher – look forward to trying this.

As the afternoon wore on and the sun continued to shine,

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 064

weary legs found a place to perch for some tea, berries and cream or one of the craft beers or ciders.

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 092

Or a quiet place in the garden…

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 055

This had very much the feel of a local event – most of the visitors I spoke to came from the locality.

But there was much to tempt those from further afield, with a line-up of speakers such as Geoff Stebbings, Joy Larkcom and Brian Cross, and several workshops.

Building on its success, it is likely to become an annual event.

A lovely way to see in the first days of Autumn, and to kickstart the garden planning to be done for next year.

Ballymaloe Garden Fest 019

(All photography mine; feel free to use any of Jardin’s images but please credit and link back)

6 thoughts on “Ballymaloe Garden Festival

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s