GARDENING lovers will swarm to Spink like bees to the brightest blooms this weekend, as the fourth Buds and Blossoms festival gets underway on Saturday 9 June.
Widely regarded as one of the best gardening events in the country, the festival promises a range of well-known speakers, local food producers, plant sale specialists, exhibitions, demonstrations and lots more.
There will also be an entertainment zone for people of all ages, with children’s activities such as face painting, balloon modelling and a clown, while adults can enjoy music, dining and a local produce market.
Household name Dermot O’Neill, one of Ireland’s favourite gardening TV presenters and columnists, will return to the festival as keynote speaker with what promises to be an interesting and informative talk on his favourite plants.
Ecologist and plants man Kevin Hughes and internationally renowned gardening expert John Anderson will also be among the speakers sharing their invaluable knowledge and experience at the event.
Kevin cultivates rare plants at the Cally Gardens and Specialist Plant Centre in Scotland, which is a treasure trove containing thousands of exotic plants gathered from around the globe.
John trained at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and at the world famous Kew Gardens (The Royal Botanic Gardens) in England. His first gardening role was the position of head gardener at the renowned Mount Usher Garden in Co Wicklow. He made many changes and plant introductions there and wrote a plant inventory before he left in early 2002.
He then travelled throughout the Southern hemisphere, particularly Australia, Tasmania and South Africa. On his return in early 2003, he took up a new post as head gardener at The National Trust for Scotland’s premier garden Inverewe in the northwest corner of the Highlands. This coastal 40-acre woodland garden boasts some of the finest tender rhododendrons among a wealth of tender and exotic perennials in these islands.
Three years later, John headed south to the world famous Exbury Gardens, home of the Rothschilds, consisting of 200 acres of woodland gardens along the south coast of Hampshire. After ten great years managing and directing this spectacular garden, it was time to undertake a new challenge. In June 2016, he became the fourth keeper of the gardens at Windsor Great Park with responsibility for the Savill garden, the 250- acre Valley Garden and the private garden of Windsor Castle, Frogmore.
John is currently vice-chairman of the RHS Woody Plant Committee and was awarded the AJ Waley medal for rhododendrons in 2014.
Other events at the festival will include cookery demonstrations, with chef Martin Hayes of Bloom Restaurant in Portlaoise presenting imaginative ways to prepare delicious menus using local Laois produce.
Full details and times for all events at the Spink festival are available on the Buds and Blossoms website. It promises to be a wonderful day for all the family and an important visitor attraction for Laois, as it brings an increasing number of people to the county every June.