Plant of the week: Dahlia

Sarah has selected the tropical showgirls of the garden for our ‘Plant of the Week’ With their many colours and forms, Dahlias are one of the lowest maintenance, highest production cut flowers and garden plants you can grow. In a good year, they’ll flower from late June to late November (particularly in a sheltered spot). […]

I am a gardener not a terrorist…..

So you have been on your holiday to America seeing family and friends, and on the morning of your flight you decide to do some last minute gardening maybe using some fertiliser as your plant knowledge is utilised before your return. Several hours later at the airport you have gone through all the security measures […]

National Nest Box Week

Such an easy thing to do and full of rewards. So I encourage you all get out buy, build or borrow a box and give the birds a home. Our nest box with camera proved such a hit as well as a learning curve for those who watched the scenes of nest preparation, to egg […]

Spring Alive

The Spring Alive project is a simple birdwatching survey that we can all take part in. All you have do is register your sightings of Swallows, Swifts, Cuckoos and Penguins(well it has been cold) through the online survey. The information that is collated is then used to look at bird migration patterns in Europe. The […]

Even greener…..potentially

I opened a second email yesterday from the Green Awards Ireland 2010 thinking that it was a duplicate of the one I received on friday in my sleepy state. On reading it properly today I am delighted to say The Secret Garden centre has also been shortlisted as a finalist for The Green Retailer catergory.

A horticultural holiday

Europe’s first horticultural theme park will be opening in April 2010 in Angers France, and its theme is purely plants and their role in daily life in an educating and fun manner. It sounds an interesting concept, when I suggested it at the breakfast table I certainly got strange looks however once I had the […]

The Green Awards 2010

It is wonderful to see that our strive to be a greener garden centre has been recognised as we have been shortlisted as a finalist in the above category. This award is for Small to Medium Size Enterprises that can demonstrate a ‘ground-up’ green strategy designed to minimise the impact of their business activity on […]

Doneraile Wildlife Park

As it is our last weekend off before we open, we decided to spend some time at the local and rather lovely Doneraile Wildlife Park. The gardens were landscaped in the early eighteenth century in the fashionable Capability Brown style. The illusion as you look down or even up at the house is that nature […]

Don’t be afraid of the 4×4

The one area that my green credentials have been challenged is the vehicle I choose to drive. Yes indeed it is a 4×4, well it can be if I choose to. The 4×4 had become the bete noire of the environmental motoring world and I know the much respected Ken Livingstone once described owners as […]

Snow at The Secret Garden

Some images from a snowy Secret Garden…………..The Silver Birches and standing stones still beautiful when bare……… The childrens play area unusually quiet…………… Podocarpus Salignus well and truly covered………. A plumped up and preened Thrush……The rush at feed time……..Even covered in snow the place has character…….

Gardening in frozen Ireland.

With ongoing freezer like temperatures in the garden there is very little real gardening going on. It is more a case of brief visits to enjoy our icy vista with some protecting, salvaging and shedding icy tears as we deal with losses to our prized plants. Even with the usual measures of using horticultural fleece,mulching, […]

Hospitality to the birds….

Given the really cold snap it is important that we show our hospitality to our feathered friends in the garden. The overwhelming concern at this time of year is the birds continued survival and with the short daylight hours feeding is essential to get much needed energy. We can help in a number of ways: […]

Not quite day of the triffids

Having just watched the remake of the classic film ‘Day of The Triffids’ over the Christmas it made me think of Ireland’s own invasive plant species. The issue that invasive species bring about is that they threaten the native biodiversity. This is done through a variety of different mechanisms and it can even change the […]

The Apple Source Book

I received a delightful gift of the above book. It really is a treasure trove of apple knowledge and includes information on apple varieties and their origin, recipes from over fifty chefs, food writers and gardeners as well how to attract wildlife to your orchard. It really is the bible of all things apple and […]

Our green Father Christmas

Given our green ethos we felt it would be a tad unnecessary on the air miles to have the real Father Christmas come and join us for our Christmas markets. So with the perfect candidate in mind we approached our potential candidate in December 2007. With lots of apprehension and with the promise of eternal […]

Christmas tree – real or artificial?

Having finally sold out of our last Christmas tree I was left pondering the environmental impact of the two choices. I have to say personally I prefer real trees both for the scent and the traditional aspect however when you see some of the artificial ones they are tempting. The Irish grown Noble or Nordman […]

A green Christmas

If you are looking for a great stocking filler this year consider ‘Going Green’ By Vivian Head. It has many easy to follow hints and tips for reducing your carbon footprint. There is a whole chapter on gardening so if you have someone who is considering switching from more traditional gardening methods to a greener […]

Apple day

Yesterday we had our very successful ‘Apple Day’ here at The Secret Garden Centre. Our celebration of all things Apple was very well attended and the feedback was really positive. We had John McNamara of McNamara’s Nursery who with his wealth of experience was able to offer advice on the growing of apples. John also […]

Repak Recycling Week 09

Recycling conserves our valuable natural resourcesRecycling saves energyRecycling protects the environmentRecycling can save money With such good reasons there is no reason why people should not be recycling rather than adding to landfill or burning which seemed to be so common when we first came over. With recycling centres in place and us the lovely […]

Those dreaded wasps

At long last those pesky buggers seem to have gone for this year. With the opening of our new tea room last month and the abundance of wasps it didn’t make for a great combination. Fairly calm until they come near my ears and then the common sense approach goes out the window and the […]

Duhallow – A Very Special Place

While up in the loft recently I found a copy of Seanchas Duthalla the Duhallow magazine from 1993. Not something that would usually grab my attention but while in the bathroom I was in need of some reading material and with nothing else at hand I opened the pages. There were many images of the […]

Complete Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

The Secret GardenComplete Beginner’s Guide to GardeningA comprehensive course comprising of fourteen sessions, which can be taken individually or as a complete course. Individual classes are charged at €10 each or the complete course of 14 costs €125. Each class lasts for two hours, and the price includes refreshments & handouts. Classes will only go […]

National Organic Week

Well if you didn’t know it finishes tomorrow. It was actually National Organic Week between the 14th – 20th September 2009. Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and co-ordinated by BordBia, National Organic Week aims to continue to raise consumer awareness of organicfood, how to recognise it when shopping and where to […]