THINGS TO DO IN CORK: Ballymaloe Garden Festival – Sat 2nd and Sun 3rd September

1 September 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth

The Ballymaloe Garden Festival will unfurl over the weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September on the grounds of Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry, Co. Cork.  The variety of talks, demonstrations, entertainment and shopping offers a bumper crop for garden lovers, seasoned experts, late bloomers, families, and foodies.

Among the highlights of this year’s Festival are two talks by Alan Power, head gardener at the world-famous Stourhead in Wiltshire.  Mr. Power is a Cork native, a regular guest on the BBC’s Gardener’s World, an expert on the landscape designer Capability Brown, and the presenter of a podcast series on National Trust gardens.

Irish garden legend Helen Dillon will speak about ‘Moving House – Only The Best to Come,’ focussing on the plants she simply couldn’t leave behind when moving to her new, smaller garden in Co. Dublin.

Darina Allen will share her vast experience on how to ‘Grow and Cook’.

Klaus Laitenberger of Green Vegetable Seeds and Ballymaloe gardener Susan Turner will lead organic vegetable walks in Ballymaloe’s Walled Garden exploring ‘Weeds, Pests and Diseases’.

For Impressionist appreciators, garden historian Caroline Holmes will deliver a talk, ‘The Story Behind Monet’s Water Lilies’.

This year will see an expanded Fringe Festival programme with a theme of self-sufficiency and ecological awareness.  There will be something for everyone among the 25 activities held in the Ballymaloe Walled Garden.

Fringe talks and demonstrations include ‘Growing Vegetables on Your Windowsill’; ‘The Buzz about Bees and Bee Keeping’; ‘Bio-Diversity and Wildlife in Your Garden’; ‘How to Grow Herbs’; ‘Keeping and Caring for Alpacas’; and ‘Potager Style Growing’.

Free expert plant advice is on offer from Tanguy de Toulgoet, Hugh Cassidy, and Fiona Kennedy in the Walled Garden on both days.

Family-friendly events include ‘Tall Tales and Fantastic Facts’ during which garden historian Caroline Holmes will transfix small ones with her stories as they explore the nooks and crannies of the Walled Garden.  There will be a Brickx Lego Club and live animals (including some irresistible alpacas) on both days.

Edible adventures abound during foraging walks led by Alison Henderson of Coulston Cookery School in Scotland on both days at 10am and 2pm.

There will be a profusion of shopping opportunities with stall holders purveying plants and shrubs, garden accessories, seeds, medicinal herbs and much more.  As with any event at Ballymaloe, local market heroes will serve up delicious food and drinks.

Specialist nurseries attending the Ballymaloe Garden Festival include Future Forests, Carewswood Garden Centre, Perennial Plants, Rare Plants Ireland, Boyne Garden Centre, Just Roses, Brown Envelope Seeds, Leamore Nursery, Akron & Oake, Kilmurry Nursery and The Natural Growing Company.

Tickets for the Ballymaloe Garden Festival are €8 per day or €12 for both days.  Children under 12 are free with an adult.  All events are included in the ticket price.  Garden Festival opening hours are 10am until 6pm.  Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone on 021 475 7200.

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