Powerscourt prepares for a colourful and sustainable spring
Even as winter closes in, preparations are underway at the magnificent Powerscourt Estate to plant a bee-friendly, bio-diverse, sustainable spring garden.
The stunning Palladian mansion set in 1,000 acres, which include 47 acres of landscaped gardens, is one of Ireland’s top attractions and has been named the third best garden in the world by National Geographic. With its mix of styles, which include an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, a walled garden with a bee sanctuary, lakes and woodland walks, it is a magical place to spend a few leisurely hours.
As head gardener Alex Slazenger prepares to plant new flowers and shrubs that will bloom in spring he is trying to think like a bee, choosing colours and shapes of plants that will attract pollinators.
In the herbaceous border, new plants will include the foxtail lily, which is native to the Himalayas, white master, and camassia, all great for pollinators and producing a riot of colour.
Installation of a wooden boardwalk through the heart of the rhododendron plantation is also underway to bring people into the heart of the colour, while the shrub bed next to the mansion is being replanted with low-growing bulbs such as hyacinth, crocus, daffodil and bluebells to create a great spring show.
Sustainability is at the heart of all the gardening activity and so anything that is taken out of the garden is put back in as mulch or compost.
Looking further into the future Alex is also carefully choosing the species of trees that will be planted so that the garden will evolve sustainably over the next couple of hundred years.
Earlier this year Powerscourt Estate and Gardens became the first major visitor attraction on the island of Ireland to achieve the Sustainable Travel Ireland certification, which uses criteria that are recognised by the UN-mandated Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This award followed the estate implementing a number of sustainability measures including an integrated energy management system, a waste reduction plan, biodiversity rewilding initiatives such as wildflower meadows, a tree planting programme, and the bee sanctuary at the walled garden.
A pioneering spirit has always existed for environmental and nature protection on Powerscourt Estate as it was originally purchased to create hydroelectric power at its waterfall, the highest one in Ireland.