On Saturday the 21st of May a dozen community gardeners from various community gardens across Dublin made the trip out to Russborough in County Wicklow. The weather forecast was not great, but as is often the case in Ireland the weather had other plans. The weather was warm and sunny, and the old walled garden well looked after by the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland volunteers. Volunteer gardeners visiting the site included individuals from Bridgefoot Street, Cherryorchard, and Serenity Community Gardens, as well as Grattan Park, and Pearse College Allotments, and WALK. We were all struck by the meticulous horticulture on display, and the range of plants being grown ... particularly flowers for display. Most impressive was the calm and peaceful nature of this mature garden, dating from around 1740. There is still much work to be done in the garden in terms of rehabiltating it to its former glory, with only half of the 3.5 acre site currently cultivated. A flock of sheep assist with keeping the grass under control in the other half of the walled site.The half of the garden under cultivation is cared for entirely by RHSI volunteer workers, with no paid staff. The walled gardens and the Demesne estate at Russborough House are open to the public for free. Memebership of the RHSI provides free and discounted access to many other significant gardens across Ireland. See: www.rhsi.ie

After tea and cake we were given a guided tour of the garden by Denise Gill of the RHSI. After this Denise led a workshop on Dalia propagation. Despite having tubors like potatoes these plants do not propagate from individual tubors but must instead be split into smaller plants that have both tubors and growing stems attached.

The Walled garden at Russborough could make any urban gardener jealous, but primarily we were all grateful to experience a peaceful garden harmonised with nature. It affords the opportunity to stop worrying about the stress and routine of city life. In the city a barrage of demands and threats seems to constantly envelope you, perhaps from living in close proximity to 1 million plus people and their various dramas. Here in Wicklow the warm sunny day was filled with Swallows and birdsong, and then ended with a thunder storm. Driving back over the hills to Dublin we saw the city obscured in a grey downpour of rain. And that is how the weather continued all evening ... one rain storm after another!

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Green Communities