Kenmare and district gardening club

The meeting was held in the usual place, the Gateway, Kenmare and it was the club’s privilege to welcome Neil Porteous, Head gardener of the National Trust property, Mount Stewart, Co. Down. He is also the consultant in charge of the ongoing renovation of the parkland and garden at Annesgrove Gardens, Castletownroche, on the Awbeg river. The garden was previously owned by Richard Annesley, who was himself a gardener of some repute; in 1924 he sponsored the plant hunter Kingdom Ward, who put the garden on the horticultural map with a superb collection of rhododendrons.
Since the garden’s heyday in the 1920s, the garden has sadly seriously deteriorated, and the Kingdom Ward rhododendrons are long gone through neglect, but Neil and his team are endeavouring to bring back the excitement to this elaborate garden, uncovering wonderful plants that have survived amongst the weeds and clutter, and by rejuvenating the water features connected to the river. Although the gardens will not be fully open to the public until April 2021, the club are privileged to be shown the progress on the garden by Neil for their garden club meeting in June – a good reason to join the club now! Neil then concluded his talk with photos of the wonderful garden at Mt. Stewart, home of the dynamic Lady Londonderry, but with a note of warning about the problem of climate change and the future challenge of rising sea levels to this garden on the shores of Strangford Lough.