After a very long winter, Emer Torpey had organised a (slightly later) spring outing to view the tulips in Helen Dillon’s garden and also to take in a tour of the Botanic Gardens.

We received the usual warm welcome from Helen and Val Dillon in their beautiful home in Sandford Park. The front garden was bursting into life – the beech trees sporting their fresh new leaves.       Helen says she leaves the front garden to look after itself, apart from the usual seasonal clear-up that all gardens need. A lot of the planting has been in situ for quite some time – a particularly beautiful       clump of buttery yellow wallflowers has been in its spot for 15 years apparently!

After coffee, Helen gave us a short talk on what she considers to be the best “doers” in the garden through the year. Lots of hasty scribbling took place. Allium “Globemaster” will probably sell out the next time it appears in the garden centres. The sun came out as we went into Helen’s world-famous back garden. A lot has changed since I last visited. Vegetable box beds have been inserted into the borders, hens are living in a luxury hotel, colourful birds are fluttering in their aviary. However, the backbone of the garden remains the same, the herbaceous borders already making quite a statement. We had come to see tulips and they were flouting themselves in their hundreds – packed into bins and pots and running through the borders. Needless to say, plants were bought (lots) and Nigel, our driver, packed everything into the coach with his usual care.

Off to the Botanic Gardens. After a delicious lunch (food does seem to be quite a feature of our outings) we had a wonderful tour of the gardens with Martina, our very knowledgeable guide. She gave us a history of the gardens, the origins and restoration of the wonderful glass houses, and was on hand to answer all our questions.       It was heartening to hear that the planting schemes in the Gardens are as slow to develop as the rest of us because of the long winter. We were free to stroll around the gardens for the afternoon. What a surprise to come upon the wonderful installation “?What is life?” by Charles Jencks, commissioned by Science in Ireland to encourage young people in particular to understand science.

Another perfect Garden Club day out!

by Patty Maher

Many thanks to Pamela Aitken for the great pictures below.