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Irish Plants for an Irish Climate - Paul Kirwin

"As one wanders around the full aisles of your local Garden Centre it is quite easy to forget exactly where the plants on display actually come from. You might assume that the Garden Centres propagate the plants themselves-and some do-but there is another hidden side of Horticulture in Ireland that rarely gets a mention in the main stream media. That hidden industry is of course the Hardy Nursery business in Ireland. Strictly trade only, it is a side of Irish Horticulture without which many garden centres would be unable to survive. 

One local Garden Centre placed a plant on display recently and invited customers to say what they would be willing to pay for that particular plant. They got answers ranging from €2 to €12.99! The simply fact is that most people find it difficult to place a value on plants because it is unknown to them the amount of work and time involved in producing the plant. A lot of folk believe that all the plants come only from Holland and that there are no Irish Plant producers. Fortunately nothing could be further from the truth and there is a huge and burgeoning Irish Nursery Industry working away in the background producing Chelsea Award winning plants for the Irish Market.

Take the new Hebe "Rhubarb and Custard" which won best new plant in the UK and Ireland for 2013. This plant took years to develop and is testimony to the hard work and dedication by Tully Nurseries just outside Dublin.

So, why should Irish Gardeners buy the Hebe? Well, We asked Niamh Tully to give us five good reasons why Irish Plants are the best value for money in Irish Garden Centres. She made these important points:

1. Choose Irish plants over Dutch plants as they have a longer shelf life and transport better, disease free from Irish Nurseries.

2. Our compost tends to have more slow releasing fertilizer which gives more longevity whereas the Dutch Nurseries liquid feed a lot so that the plant runs out of steam quicker!

3. Support local communities with job creation. This is more important this year with the unfavourable weather that has put enormous strain on both Nurseries and Garden Centres across Ireland.

4. Irish grown plants are hardier and most suited to the Irish climate."

Looking West, there are a myriad of Western suppliers all along the coast from Donegal to Co. Clare that supply garden centres in Mayo. We took a spin recently to John and Sarah Power in Tourmakeady and saw the lines and lines of Senetti, Geraniums, Pansys, Violas and summer bedding producing a riot of colour that assaults the senses when you walk into their greenhouses.


Lupins and Digitalis at Young Nurseries

The same was evident just down the coast at Young Nurseries, who won Best Hardy Nursery grower at this years Bord Bia Awards. They produce 800 varieties of Perennials for both the Irish and UK markets and the amazing colour at the Nursery is a sight that few people get to see first hand. Outside the Nursery, we could see the familiar Blue and White trucks of Hannons Plant Transporters loading the plants on special trolleys ready for hauling away to the various garden centres across the country.


Hannons Plant Transporters

These are the real specialists when it comes to delivering plants in excellent condition from Nursery to Garden Centre shelf and their main loading bases in Dublin and Belfast is similar to the Apron in Dublin Airport at night when all the cargo planes get to work. Their temperature controlled trucks are the reason that the plant goes on sale in the same condition it left the nursery. We always get a lift our hearts when we see one of the truck arrive with fresh stock as we know we are in for a treat both in colour and plant quality.

So, Next time you browse your garden centre, have a look at the label and see where the plant came from. A lot of plants take three years to mature into the fine specimen you hold in your hand and when you purchase it you can be assured that you are buying an Irish Product that is both World class in quality and suitability to the Irish weather. You are also sustaining part of which is a very important Industry worth €380 million annually to the Irish economy. "

Source: HortiTrends News Room