Meet our Head Gardener Michael Byrne!
What is the brief you have to work to as the head gardener at Powerscourt?
My brief as Head Gardener at Powerscourt Gardens is to develop and maintain the Gardens and the 1,000 acre estate to a very high standard with a lot of focus on attention to detail. I strive to preserve Powerscourt as a historical and heritage garden while creating new and exciting landscapes around those that already exist; introducing new planting and colourful schemes throughout the gardens.
How long have you been the head gardener at Powerscourt?
I have been working in Powerscourt Gardens for 7 years. It’s a very rewarding role because of its beautiful environment, scale and grandeur. Every day at Powerscourt is different and presents new challenges; whether it’s maintaining 280 year old antique gates or repairing rare and irreplaceable statues. Previous to coming here, I worked mainly in the U.K. for several organisations including Historic Scotland, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission.
How do you maintain the gardens?
We maintain the gardens with a small team of 5 full time gardeners, and the assistance of a couple of horticultural students during the busy summer months. I assign my team different areas of the gardens to look after and we carry out a large variety of tasks. We meet on a daily basis but follow a week to week working programme. We have invested in the latest in garden machinery which helps us to maintain the gardens in a more efficient way.
How do the gardens change throughout the year?
The seasons play a very important part in Powerscourt Gardens and there is something new to see here each day. Most of my time in winter is spent planting flowers and bulbs for spring but there are plenty of perennials to enjoy in the garden and splashes of colour including Hollies, Skimmia and Witch Hazel. The gardens are ablaze with colour in spring with camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and pink and white cherry blossom. Our annual tulip festival sees 10,000 tulips decorate the gardens. During the summer months there are hundreds of roses in bloom and the summer bedding looks beautiful. Autumn is one of the most spectacular times to visit Powerscourt. The 300 year old Beech Avenue is reminiscent of New England with its copper tones and is a beautiful place to walk.
Is summer the best time to see the gardens in their full glory?
A large part of my role as Head Gardener in Powerscourt is to provide colourful blooms year-round for our visitors to enjoy. Summertime is the best time to visit the gardens, especially if you like Roses! The herbaceous border at Powerscourt, Ireland’s largest, is at its finest in summer and features over 700 varieties of plants. It’s a must-see for gardeners.
What is your favourite area of the gardens?
As much as I love the formality, symmetry and structure of the Italian Gardens, my favourite area of the garden is the Japanese Garden. Especially in early May when the Magnolias, Azaleas and Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom. It is a place of great peace and tranquillity with its grottos, pagodas, bridges and streams hidden away in its own little valley. I also love the Rhododendron Walk as it’s one of the quietest areas to stroll through the gardens while the Pet Cemetery is fun and quirky!