Lismore Castle Gardens – Past and Potential: A Talk by Darren Topps, Head Gardener

Lismore Castle Gardens – Past and Potential: A Talk by Darren Topps at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Thursday 13th November

Lismore Castle and gardens are steeped in history with an initial design by Sir Joseph Paxton dating to the 1840s with some elements of the gardens almost certainly older. In his talk to the members and visitors at our recent meeting Darren Topps, Head Gardener at Lismore, guided us through the various areas of the garden. The lower garden has a champion specimen of Magnolia delavayi and a yew avenue which is over three hundred years old but after a good spring display from Rhododendrons and Magnolias it has little in flower for the rest of the year though the Eucryphia are excellent in late summer. The upper garden has long been used for fruit and vegetables and still is with an emphasis on cut flower production for display in the castle. A mix of herbaceous borders and shrubs gives a very colourful summer display.

A view over the Upper Garden towards the castle.  Photo from Stephen Butler
A view over the Upper Garden towards the castle.
Photo from Stephen Butler

Times change though and with very few planting records there is a very free hand in replanting. Overgrown hedges, essential for the framework, are being reduced back to a correct width and height. Weed infested borders are being stripped, dug over, cleaned, and replanted. Box blight has badly affected the garden but an edge to the borders is essential so, instead of box, chestnut hurdles or step over apple cordons have been used. The grass in the orchard was previously kept mown but this year it was developed as a meadow giving much more floral interest, a great increase in insect life and far less work. The garden enjoys a remarkable microclimate and this has facilitated new plantings of unusual plants.

A ridge and furrow greenhouse range, a very rare style seldom found now, is due for renovation and an area termed the relic garden which has an interesting collection of trees, especially conifers, is also due to be reopened shortly. The Devonshire’s interest in art is evident too from the various sculptures displayed around the gardens.

Forty people braved the wind and rain for the lecture and their interest was very evident by the number of questions Darren fielded afterwards.

An excellent talk enjoyed by all and if you would like to join us at future events check out our website for dates and locations: or come join us on Facebook:

Stephen Butler

For Leinster Events Committee


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