Gardening celebrities coming to Carlow for the county's Garden Festival in 2018

Guest speakers include Sarah Price, Creator of the London Olympic Gardens

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Gardeners heaven

Two gold medal winners at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show – Sarah Price and Chris Beardshaw - feature as part of a great line-up of speakers at this year’s Carlow Garden Festival from July 27 to August 6. 

Featuring 21 celebrated garden experts over 11 days, the festival is sure to interest everyone from novice gardeners to garden connoisseurs, garden designers to nature lovers and grandparents to grandchildren.

The 2018 programme features an appealing mix of world-class UK gardeners combined with the very best of Irish garden broadcasters, writers and trailblazers in Irish horticulture and garden design.

An exciting double bill line-up featuring Sarah Price, Creator of the London Olympic Gardens and Alan Gray from East Ruston Old Vicarage kicks off the festival programme in Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Friday, July 27.

Through an overview of past and present work, Sarah shows how her design process works, while also focusing on the renowned gardens she created for the London Olympics in 2012 and her stunning 2018 gold medal, M&G master piece at Chelsea.

Alan describes how his gardens have been transformed from a blank canvas into a stunning vista of creativity, bursting with colour and featuring mixed hedgerows, banks, wild flower areas and ponds.

Other highlights on the festival programme include a talk by Adam Frost, UK TV presenter and multi-gold medal winner at The Chelsea Flower Show at the stunning VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow town on Thursday, August 2, 2018.

Altamont Plant Sales in the grounds of Altamont Gardens offer visitors the chance to see both Chris Beardshaw, UK garden designer and TV and radio presenter, and Fergus Garrett, head gardener at Great Dixter Garden on Friday August 3.

This is a rare opportunity to catch speakers of such high calibre in one venue, on the same day, at a very reasonable price of €35. 

On Sunday, August 5 a period garden party with UK gardener and TV personality, Carol Klein, takes place in the revamped gardens at Duckett’s Grove Historic House and promises to be a truly memorable gardening experience.

Featuring vintage dress, classical and musical entertainment, traditional activities for the children, picnics on the lawn and a talk by Carol Klein on her life and times as a nursery woman and gardener.

This is the perfect opportunity to pay a first or repeat visit to Duckett’s Grove, whose gardens have undergone significant improvements in the past twelve months.  An afternoon for the whole family to enjoy.

Leonie Cornelius, winner of RTĒ‘s Super Garden and the Mail on Sunday gardening columnist, pays a visit to Huntington Castle and Gardens on Saturday, July 28. Here she speaks about designing your dream garden and will also give an interesting garden tour in the afternoon.

John Anderson will make a welcome return to the festival with a talk at Delta Sensory Gardens on Monday July 30 while Stephen Anderton, broadcaster and the Times columnist makes his first appearance at the festival as he gives a talk at Hardymount Gardens on Tuesday July 31.

Another festival first is for Charles Dowding, author and innovator of No Dig Organic Growing who will give a talk and workshop at the beautiful Shankill Castle on Wednesday August 1.  

New additions to the garden festival this year also include the knowledgeable Fiann Ó Nualláin, holistic gardener and gardening columnist with the Irish Examiner, Elma Fenton, garden designer and Gold Medal winner at Bloom, Assumpta Broomfield, renowned and much admired Irish gardener, and Shirley Lanigan, author of Open Gardens of Ireland who are all due to impart their vast knowledge to audiences to the festival at various locations.

Festival favourites Dermot O’ Neill, well known to viewers of RTĒ, Helen Dillon world renowned plant expert and gardener, Jimi Blake of Huntington Brook Gardens and  Fionnuala Fallon of the Irish Times will also feature on the festival programme.

Another talented gardener participating in the Carlow Garden Festival is Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener at Kilmacurragh Gardens, who visits Borris House and Demesne for a wonderful garden tour. OPW Tree Officer Cormac Downey promises an exciting journey through the historic setting of Altamont Gardens with its fine plant collections and ancient oak woodland.

Suitable for all the family, Wildtime – Woodland Fun and Forest School will lead a special nature walk along the magical setting of the River Barrow in Leighlinbridge. Prepare for your senses to be captivated and explore the flora, fauna, plants, animals and birds along the river.

The Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners and nature lovers to obtain practical advice from a range of informative workshops while visiting the many beautiful gardens in the county.

With gardens in full bloom and with the majority of gardening work completed, the festival is the ideal time to relax, admire the work of others and make gardening plans for the coming months and year ahead.

Visitors can also explore the Carlow Garden Trail which includes great old gardens that have been lovingly restored and maintained throughout the years, and smaller gardens which are maturing beautifully with time, where visitors will enjoy guided tours, usually with the owner or head gardener.

Award winning garden centres and forest parks complement the joy of a visit here.

Great value accommodation breaks along with details of the festival programme can be found at or alternatively ring Carlow Tourism on 059-9130411 for further details.

All tickets can be booked on-line on the festival website which also features special accommodation packages for the festival.

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