Dr David Robinson Memorial Lecture Event at Powerscourt Estate

On the 25th October we hosted the annual David Robinson Memorial Event at Powerscourt estate which invited horticultural students from north and south to attend a lecture along with a tour of the gardens, golf course and garden pavilion. Myself and my assistant Will Stapleton took groups around our historic gardens. Students learnt about the rich and diverse gardening history including champion specimen trees and exquisite statues  and metal work.

The tour started at the top of the steps in the formal Italian garden with the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain in the background with a brief history of the estate and previous owners and their contributions to the gardens. We explained the yearly task of maintaining these gardens and what areas we have been focusing on, primarily the rejuvenation of our formal lawns after the severe drought that the summer of 2018 brought and our techniques to ensure minimal damage in the future should this strike again.

Next the group was brought through the chorus gates and into the memorial gardens full of old English roses and walled gardens including our double herbaceous border which in the summer months is a hive of activity with colours and smells. The students were explained how these areas have transformed from a very practical fruit vegetable and herb garden into a more pleasure garden in more recent times and described how in the herbaceous border we were planning to plant over 14000 tulips of 14 different varieties that will illuminate the border for our tulip festival in the spring.

We then moved from the formal part of the garden through the English gate to the dolphin pond where I showed my favourite tree in the gardens.. Ilex aquifolium “pendula”( weeping holly) a magnificent specimen of about 160 years old and described how its architecture and clear grafting line excites me every time I see it. I explained how ahead of their time the gardeners during this period were with the use of such an advanced  propagation technique.

The tour concluded at the bottom of the Triton Lake with yet another iconic Powerscourt view as your vision is swept up the impressive steps of the Italian garden to the Palladian style mansion of the main house. Here I explained future plans for the gardens including a sweeping prairie meadow towards the Sugarloaf and the opportunities to open up lost vistas in the gardens allowing the plants and hard features to guide visitors around.

Students were then treated to a demonstration and talk by our golf course superintendent Paul Farren who explained the regular maintenance and upkeep it takes to present two champion golf courses and the importance of nutrition to maintain a healthy balance, students were treated to machine demonstration by Paul and his team, and by all accounts they were exposed to pure levels of agronomy that Paul has developed and perfected over the years.

To finish up students hopped over to the garden pavilion where manager Brian Berry gave a rundown of the retail side of a garden center and what it takes to present an extremely eye pleasing masterpiece of displays and vast variety of plants that complement the overall experience of the estate.

In conclusion students witnessed the three main areas the estate has to offer and how the various departments work tirelessly to present powerscourt estate to the public visitor and the balance it takes to respect the heritage of the site.

    – Alex Slazenger, Head Gardener at Powerscourt Estate

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