Calling all gardeners! Mallow show is a must-see
Written by Peter Dowdall for Irish Examiner
Peter Dowdall urges all gardeners, great and small to get to the Homes and Garden show next weekend.
We will head in our droves once more to Cork Racecourse in Mallow next weekend and though it will be one of the courses busiest weekends in the year — there won’t be a horse to be seen.
This year sees Munster’s largest Home and Garden Show take up residence once more just outside the North Cork town over the weekend of May 25-27.
Horticulture is at the heart of this show, featuring as it does, over twenty permanent display gardens. Unlike other flower and garden shows, in which gardens are created and then hastily dismantled, the gardens at Mallow remain from year to year.
This makes it much more ‘real’, as you see what the garden designs are like, as they mature. That’s not to say that you see the same show each year — you don’t — all the gardens go through a facelift every year and several spaces get a complete makeover, with just mature hedges and specimen trees remaining.
Darren Drummond is the driving force behind these gardens, and his job is reimagining the spaces and sprucing up the display gardens, so that they are at their best for showtime.
The other element that makes this show special is what happens in the stable area. No grooming of horses or polishing of tack, rather, this is where the members of the Irish Specialist Nursery Association will take up residence for the few days.
It is an opportunity to meet with these specialist growers and to see the plants that they produce themselves, (for the most part), and which are available for sale — it gives this show the edge over many others.
I’m a kid in a sweetshop when to comes to the stables — I can’t resist the temptation. (Mind you I find it difficult to say ‘No’ in a regular sweet shop too.)
This year will once again see the show expand in size and as with any successful show, it now encompasses far more than just gardening.
There is a substantial food market along with many other traders, and a pet expo. This year also sees a drone exhibition. Something which didn’t even enter the imagination when this show first opened its gates, twenty years ago now.
Finbarr O Neill, of O’Neill’s Quarries in Ballincollig will be there once more, using the event to showcase his unique plum coloured slate mulch. Available in different sizes, the larger of which is recently proven to repel slugs and snails, a nice added feature is reduced water loss through evaporation and protection for the roots from frost and snow, something which all of our gardens could have benefitted from this year.
One of the other enduring features of the show is the series of Garden demonstrations and lectures. These too have been going since the very first year of Mallow.
I will be speaking on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I enjoy speaking here as its my home county and nicely relaxed, in a Cork way. However, I hope Charlie Wilkins is on after me because he is the quintessential, hard act to follow.
The inimitable gardening personality will also be speaking on each of the three days and if you have never before been to one of Charlie’s talks, or even if you have, then do yourself a favour, as soon as you land at the show, find out what time he is on and hightail it to the seminar room, as seats will be gone otherwise.
Then, sit back and allow yourself to be entertained as much as educated. There will be floral art demonstrations and several other speakers too, during the weekend.
I was at another show a few weeks back and I was admiring one of the hot tubs on display and it started me thinking…..a nice addition to any garden certainly….if you have the budget.
I’m going to avoid the saunas, jacuzzis and hot tubs at Mallow in case I am even more tempted. Toss Bryan’s from Fermoy will be there with their range of indoor stoves and this year I am hoping that they will have some of the fantastic, towable, Trail Blazer barbecues on display too.
I’m not building a new house, nor have I any intention of doing so, but I still love to mooch around and look through the exhibits of everything home related, such as timber frame houses, stone technology, conservatories, kitchens, water treatment, solar panels and renewable energy.
Who knows, I may even take the opportunity to try a self-massaging chair or to cure myself of snoring naturally, even though of course, I don’t snore.
I’ve never heard myself snore.