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The Powerscourt Blog

Aoife O'Driscoll

Recent Posts

Delicious recipe for Irish brown bread from Avoca Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 20, 2017 9:33:55 AM

Looking for a tasty new recipe to try this weekend! Look no further!

Here's the recipe for Avoca's famous brown bread recipe. Enjoy :)

Ingredients

200g white flour

300g coarse brown flour

100g mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g to sprinkle on top of bread

3tbsp of bran

2tbsp of wheatgerm

2 heaped tsp baking powder

1 level tsp salt

1dstsp treacle

600 – 900ml milk

Makes 1 loaf

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Instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the treacle and stir in enough of the milk to give a moist but not sloppy mixture.

Place in a well oiled 900g loaf tin and bake in a oven preheated to 200°c/400°F/gas mark 6 for 20 mins until risen.

Reduce the heat to 170°c/325°F/gas mark 3 and bake for a further hour.

Run a knife around the tin and ease the bread out. If it sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom it is cooked, if not, return it to the over for 10-15 mins. Don’t worry about putting the bread back in the tin for this, just turn it upside down and put it directly on the shelf.

For more great recipe ideas see the Avoca website 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate

Powerscourt boss is brimming with ideas - Sunday Times Article

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 6, 2017 9:46:59 AM

Sarah Slazenger, the managing director of the picturesque estate in Enniskerry, will build on the success of her family business with a €10m whiskey distillery

Article by Gavin Daly - The article appeared in the Sunday Times on 27 September 2015.

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Slazenger has had more than her share of misfortune at Powerscourt — but she has ‘the best job in the world’ (Fergal Phillips)

As a child, Sarah Slazenger grabbed every opportunity to visit her grandparents at Powerscourt, their 1,000-acre estate outside Enniskerry in Co Wicklow. She was staying one night in 1982, aged 15, when an armed gang barged into their house, knocked her grandfather to the ground and put a gun to his head.

“There were half a dozen of them in balaclavas, coming in and out,” says Slazenger. “It was very, very frightening.”

In the mayhem, her grandmother Gwen convinced the robbers that she needed to go upstairs. Halfway up, she faked breathlessness, sat down on a window seat and pressed a hidden panic button. “That rang an alarm in the farm manager’s house and he called the head gardener,” says Slazenger. “When the lights of their car appeared, the raiders couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

The gang rushed out to investigate, giving Gwen time to hop up and lock the door. “She was an extraordinary, feisty person,” says Slazenger, smiling.

Her grandmother was on the phone, summoning help, as the raiders smashed the door in. “They pulled the phone out of the wall, and scarpered,” she says. The gang escaped empty-handed but the experience caused Slazenger’s grand- parents to quit Powerscourt for “a quieter life” in the Isle of Man. The trauma didn’t put her off the place, however.

Slazenger has worked at Powerscourt since 1990 and now runs an unusual family business including a Palladian mansion, ornamental gardens, two golf courses, an Avoca cafe, garden centre and upmarket shopping. The next addition, announced last week, will be a €10m whiskey distillery in an old mill house. There were several approaches about possible uses for the mill in the past, says Slazenger, pointing out a fine stone building on a walk around the estate. The whiskey proposal, from local businessmen Gerry Ginty and Ashley Gardiner, just clicked.

“I knew nothing about whiskey at all but the more we looked at it, the more we thought, there’s something in this,” says Slazenger. At full production, Powerscourt Distillery will turn out a million bottles a year, targeting the premium end of the Irish whiskey market, which is booming.

The planned distillery visitor centre shouldn’t have the “build it and they will come” worries of other distillery ventures. About 500,000 people already visit Powerscourt each year, mainly for the 47-acre gardens and the 400ft waterfall, which is on Slazenger land.

Slazenger takes a shortcut through the estate farmyard and into the walled garden, where an overhaul of original glasshouses is being completed. Tourists mill around the main Italian Gardens, created in the 1840s by Daniel Robertson, a gout-sufferer who was ferried around in a wheelbarrow as he drank bottles of sherry.

Latest accounts for Powerscourt Estates show accumulated profits of €17.7m at the end of 2013 and nearly €8m cash in the bank. It paid a €1m dividend to its parent.

“There are huge outgoings,” says Slazenger. Recapping the walls of the walled gardens was a two-year project that “most people don’t see”, and there is a plan to repaint and regild all the estate’s gates.

There will be a new interpretive experience for visitors, tying in with Failte Ireland’s new Ireland’s Ancient East concept. Longer term, there is a climate-change venture she can’t talk about yet.

Slazenger has a three-strand business philosophy: “To be inquiring, to be demanding, to be generous.” She adds “A good idea has to give way to a better idea.”

New ventures are Slazenger’s favourite part of her job, though many proposals are ditched before they even reach the family-run board of directors. They include a theme park (“though they make quite a lot of money”), a railway from the main estate to the waterfall, and a pet farm.

“You have to be quite hard-nosed,” says Slazenger. “We have to ensure it doesn’t damage the Powerscourt brand, which is one of timelessness, elegance and quality.”

Slazenger should be familiar with the power of brands. Her great-grandfather Albert started the Slazenger sports equipment company and invented the modern tennis ball, still used at Wimbledon.

Her grandfather Ralph was an engineer and inventor, and Gwen had a passion for farming. They came to Ireland in the 1950s, living initially at Durrow Abbey in Co Offaly, and knew the Wingfield family, who had owned Powerscourt for centuries.

When the Wingfields could no longer afford to keep the estate and decided to sell in 1961, the Slazengers snapped it up — though not for its obvious attractions. “My grandfather was fascinated by renewable energy and he wanted the waterfall for hydroelectricity,” says Slazenger.

Gwen farmed the estate and the family lived in the mansion, built around an original Norman keep. Slazenger and her siblings, who lived with their doctor parents in Ballsbridge, visited regularly and had the run of the place. “It was magical.”

She remembers massive Christmas trees and carollers in the main hall in the winter. A ball at Powerscourt in the summer of 1965 was attended by Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

In November 1974, on the night of a press reception to show off improvements to the house, a blaze was lit in an old fireplace, causing a chimney fire that gutted the house. “You were standing [on the ground floor] looking up at the sky,” she says.

Her grandparents moved to the east wing, which was undamaged by the fire, until the attempted robbery in 1982. The gardens and farm stayed open after their move, but it was a struggle.

“The gardens and farming were at the mercy of the weather. And it was the 1980s, when everything was pretty down.”

When Gwen died in 1990, Slazenger’s father, an anaesthetist, convened his siblings and said he would take a year’s sabbatical to work on the estate. “Up to that point, he never intended to have anything to do with the estate,” says Slazenger. She remembers getting the call in Scotland, where she was based, to see if she would get involved. “I was on the plane home straight away,” she says. “It was only meant to be for a year. There was no grand plan, no assumption it could all work out.”

The first step was securing overarching planning permission to develop the estate. Then they cherry-picked the best parts of the plan. Her father did go back to public hospital work but parked his private practice to focus on Powerscourt. Fixing up the house was the “big driving motivation”.

A disused gravel pit beside the Powerscourt entrance was sold as sites for houses, becoming the upmarket Eagle Valley estate, where houses sell for millions. The funds paid for a reroofing of the house, completed in 1996 using a metal structure that supported the original walls.

The first golf course opened that same year, funded with the sale of member shares in the club. It “just took off”, says Slazenger, and has 900 members. Some land was sold to the Office of Public Works but no other land sales or housing development took place. A 3km riverwalk was developed, passing the tallest tree in Ireland, a 200ft tall Douglas fir.

Avoca opened in 1997, and a restaurant fills the old dining room where the viscounts Powerscourt would have sat, overlooking the gardens. Above the ground floor, though, there were just concrete floors “to stop the walls from waving”.

The restoration of the first-floor ballroom, with intricate plasterwork and detailed ceilings, was Slazenger’s “absolute favourite time”. It hosts weddings, balls and corporate events. The top floor of the house is now office space used by Crowley Carbon, a greentech company. “They have the best view in Ireland.”

A hotel was in the plans from the early 1990s, though an early idea to turn the original house into a five-star hotel was knocked on the head. “It would have meant cutting off the gardens from the public, and that was not what we wanted.”

Instead, a €250m 200-bedroom hotel was built by Treasury Holdings in a hollow off the main avenue and opened in 2007 as a Ritz-Carlton. It rebranded as Powerscourt hotel after being bought out of insolvency by investment group Tetrarch Capital in 2013. The hotel owners have a long lease from the Slazengers and they work closely, particularly on access to the gardens and golf courses. “When the hotel does well, we do well,” she says. It has just been named AA hotel of the year, while the gardens have been rated third in the world by National Geographic — the gardens at Versailles were top, while Kew was No 2.

Including the hotel, more than 350 people work on the estate, up from fewer than 20 in 1990, says Slazenger. There are visiting projects, such as the filming of TV drama Penny Dreadful on the estate last week. “It is sustainable in the long term. We’re not worrying about having a good year this year and a bad year next year.”

The distillery, which was first pitched about a year ago, fits that bill, she says. “The estate has been here 800 years. It’s an intergenerational business, and the whiskey business is the same.”

Powerscourt has been the setting for Slazenger’s best days and her worst. In April 2010, her father and a friend of his were killed when his small plane crashed on the estate. Slazenger pauses.

“I am tremendously privileged. I got to spend 20 years working with him. He was a visionary, and a hard act to follow.”

Her mother still lives up by the waterfall. “We have been unlucky in a lot of ways but we are also tremendously fortunate,” she says. “I pinch myself — I really think I have the best job in the world.”

The life of Sarah Slazenger

Age: 48

Home: Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Family: Married with three children

Education: Schooling in England and at Wesley College, Dublin. Degree in economics and politics from University College Dublin, and a marketing degree from the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

Favourite book: My current favourite is The Undertaking by local author Audrey Magee.

Favourite film: About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson. It has a very upbeat message. 

Working day

I work roughly office hours. The estate office is where it all happens. My days are hugely varied because we have the various businesses on the estate, whether it’s the golf club or hotel or the retailers. Then we might have a film crew or special activity on the estate. I start the day with meetings with the leaders of the various businesses. A good part of my day is spent looking at new ideas and developments — running Powerscourt is all about innovation and not standing still. It’s also seasonal and every season is different; at the minute we’re thinking about Christmas and getting the donkeys, goats and deer in for the Powerscourt Christmas stables. At weekends, I share an on-call with the estate manager.

Downtime

My downtime is family time. My sport is horse riding. I ride out on the estate early in the mornings — the sunrise can be glorious. I compete in eventing at weekends.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate

Down by the river at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 1:09:24 PM

And the sun took a step back,
The leaves lulled themselves to sleep,
and Autumn was awakened.

Raquel Franco

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The River Walk was laid in 1868 by the Viscount of Powerscourt so that his family could enjoy the serenity of the River Dargle.

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And serene it is indeed. Over 3 kilometres (2 miles), it winds its way in the direction of the Powerscourt Waterfall, through secluded woodlands and past champion trees. The mirror-like surface of the peaty water glistens through the leaves, and its tranquil murmur echoes softly in the undergrowth. Every once in a while, a lonely autumn leaf sails gently downstream.

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As we started walking, my children collected a number of seasonal treasures – parachute seeds, shiny conkers in their soft shell, one green acorn with its cap still on, one large flat mushroom, and two star-shaped leaves decayed into the most delicate lace (only the ribs and veins remained).

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On that lovely Sunday afternoon, the surfaced pathway was busy with dog walkers and families, and a few cars. The adventure really began when the kids took their hide-and-seek game off the main road and into the woods.

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They hid among the exposed roots of broad-leaf trees on the river bank;
They scaled low-lying branches and giant cork-like conifers;
They painted their faces with charcoal taken out of the charred hollow of a tall tree;
They ran, they played, they laughed.

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Deep in the woods, they also spotted a stick swing hanging tantalisingly over the Dargle – a return visit will be in order to try it out, with adequate footwear, or no footwear at all!

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About

Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland’s great outdoors with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.

http://www.fouracorns.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Wicklow

Autumn colours at Powerscourt Waterfall

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 12:11:11 PM

Put yourself in the way of beauty
Cheryl Strayed

Few places are more beautiful than the Powerscourt Waterfall, Co Wicklow, on a sunny autumn day. Ireland’s highest waterfall (121m/398ft) has become a kind of pilgrimage for us – twice a year at least, we visit the stunning parkland at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains.

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This time, my 5-year-old’s best friend came along, with his mum and younger brother, during mid-term. As soon as he had heard the name ‘Powerscourt’, he pleaded to go and play on the toy diggers in the playground’s sandpit. All plans to visit the Powerscourt Gardens in all their autumn splendour were quickly shoved aside.

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As often when we go to the waterfall, the children played for ages on the fantastic playground, digging, swinging and climbing to their hearts’ content. 

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Then we walked to the waterfall itself. It was as majestic as ever, its blue waters flowing over jet-black rocks, with the whole gamut of autumn colours on the surrounding trees.

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About

Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland’s great outdoors with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.

http://www.fouracorns.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

Howl-A-Ween Dog Costume Contest!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 19, 2016 1:12:14 PM

Does your pooch have the cutest Halloween outfit? Or maybe the most fur raising?

Enter Powerscourt Garden Pavilion's Dog Halloween Costume Contest to find out!

Upload a photo of your dog in costume to our Facebook page or email a photo to marketing@powerscourt.net to be in with a chance to win. 

We will have a lovely prize of some fabulous dogcessories and treats for the lucky winning canine :)

Be sure to include your name, dog's name, breed, age of dog and hometown when sending us your photo.

The competition closes at 4pm on November 1st.

Our team will pick our favourite costume. 

So come on and enter your top dog! You'd be barking mad not to ;)

Don't forget to Like us on Facebook.

Sorry, we do have some rules too....
The winner must be able to collect the prize.
The prize cannot exchange for monetary value.

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Topics: Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Wicklow

New RTÉ Painting Programme Filmed at Powerscourt Estate

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 12, 2016 11:34:54 AM

Wicklow’s very own Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall was the location for the debut episode of RTE’s Painting the Nation, a TV programme which uncovers and showcases the best amateur painting talent across the island of Ireland. Produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ and presented by Pauline McLynn, the show’s finalists include carpenters, geologists, full-time mums, students and grannies who share a dream of painting for a living.

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After completing their challenges, a still life and painting drapery, in the Ballroom of Powerscourt House the painters were taken to the spectacular Powerscourt Waterfall. Following in the footsteps of some of Ireland’s greatest landscape painters, they captured the waters tumbling over the iconic Wicklow Mountains into the valley. It was a great opportunity to showcase this iconic ‘Garden of Ireland’ tourism attraction to tourists nationwide.

Over 50 different movies and TV series have been shot at Powerscourt Estate since Laurence Olivier started the trend by filming Henry V there in 1944. Since then films including The Count of Monte Cristo and King Arthur and chart-topping TV series Vikings and Penny Dreadful have been filmed here. To follow ‘Painting the Nation’ tune into RTÉ 1 Television on Sundays at 7.30pm.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Foraging Fun along the Powerscourt River Walk

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 3, 2016 3:29:36 PM

 

 

I didn’t really know what I had signed up for when I accepted the invitation to come along to the 'Foraging in the Wild Walk', a couple of weeks ago. In my usual, slapdash manner I signed myself, my husband and three children ranging in ages from four to nine up for what I thought would be a guided stroll along the lovely River Walk at Powerscourt.

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So it was quite a surprise to myself and my family when we realised that Mary and Robert from Blackstairs Eco Trails were bringing us out on a foraging jaunt! Whilst I was trying to nonchalantly shush the complaints from my seven year old that he was not actually going on a walk, my eldest started munching on dandelion leaves while exploring where the wild strawberries grow!

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Next thing the 'complainer' was chowing down on some hogweed seeds, fascinated, as Robert showed us how to grab handfuls of nettles without stinging ourselves..and like that Mary and Robert had us under their spell.

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They were so enthusiastic, bantering between themselves and leaping from one indistinct shrub to another, handing out hazelnuts, wild mushrooms and fun along the way. Once we had finished exploring the endless possibilities from deep-fried elderberry flowers to plaintain on toast, we were whisked back to Powerscourt Garden Pavillion for an informative session on home pickling, alexander seed (used as black pepper by the more inventive chef) and wild sorrel which tastes more ‘lemony’ than lemons!!

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Their enthusiasm for foraging and living off the plentiful land around us was so infectious that by the time we were leaving I was pretty sure I would never need to darken another supermarket or doctor’s door again, although my self-belief may have been enhanced by the delicious swig of their homemade sloe gin I had helped myself to.

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Reality has set back in now but with another fabulous trip to Powerscourt under my belt and with my new found foraging knowledge, I did spot a hazel tree and some wild hazelnuts on my daily walk which the children were only delighted to gobble up!

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Aisling posts about our family events throughout the year. Aisling runs a parenting blog which you can follow here.

Bio: My name is Aisling Lyons, stay at home mother of three, and sometime radio pundit ;).I have over 20 years experience in the childcare sector, starting out as nursery nurse before moving into nannying, and then returning to work in creches for over 14 years, twelve of which were in creche management. I managed a private creche "Johnstown Kiddiecare" in Kilpeddar, Co. Wicklow, and then moved into Dublin to manage the nursery on-site in Trinity College Dublin. I finally left that position to open my own creche "Aisling Childcare", which I ran for seven years. I closed the creche when baby number three was imminent as I really wanted to focus on motherhood. I am passionate about children being given the very best opportunities to allow them to grow up to be happy and confident. I set up a blog to help any parents struggling with the little and large problems that parenting young children can bring! I really hope that some ideas I bring will help families thrive and forge ahead!: )

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Events

Meet Lord Powerscourt and Sarah and Alex Slazenger in our new short movie!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Sep 22, 2016 2:20:19 PM

Beautiful Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow has launched a wonderful new short film and new audio guides about the gardens, narrated personally by the 2 families and owners of Powerscourt over the past 400 years. Voted the third most beautiful garden in the world by National Geographic, Powerscourt is a classical oasis hidden in the wilds of Wicklow.

In the film you will meet Anthony Wingfield, Lord Powerscourt and Alex Slazenger, the Head Gardener. Their cousin Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director also appears on the video making this a first-hand, warm experience of what Powerscourt means to them. From fascinating family characters through to everyday tasks in the gardens, the audio guides provide a wonderful behind the scenes glimpse of life at Powerscourt.

The audio guides are available now in English, Spanish, German, French & Chinese.

So how did the impressive Powerscourt Mansion come to be built?

And just who had the vision to create the spectacular gardens?

Join Sarah, Alex and Anthony as they share family stories with you that have been passed down for generations.

Start your Powerscourt journey today by watching the short video below and enjoy the audio guides when you next visit Powerscourt Gardens.

 

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Wicklow

Four Wheeled Wonders at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Aug 2, 2016 3:45:57 PM

Step back in time and admire various vintage vehicles at Powerscourt, part of Ireland’s ancient east. The Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club is back for its 39th year at Powerscourt to celebrate the most beautiful period cars in Ireland and share their members’ collections with you. Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the display in the historic setting of Powerscourt’s walled gardens on the 1,000 acre estate in County Wicklow on Sunday 21st of August from 2 to 4.30pm. Vehicles of all eras and styles will be in attendance, alongside their owners, who are always delighted to tell visitors about their beloved classics.

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FIVA, the international federation of historic vehicles, has named 2016 as World Motoring Heritage Year – both in recognition of motoring history, and to celebrate a new dawn for the historic vehicle movement throughout the world. There will be over 125 historic vehicles covering a vast array of motoring history at the event in Powerscourt.

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Everyone is welcome to come dressed to impress in their best vintage clothes! The event costs €25 for a family of 5 and includes entry to Powerscourt Gardens. For tickets and more information visit www.powerscourt.com/events

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow

Meet Alex, Head Gardener at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jul 29, 2016 3:58:45 PM

Over the next few months we will meet the people behind the scenes at Powerscourt who keep the estate looking wonderful and provide a great welcome to our visitors. This week we meet Powerscourt's Head Gardener Alex who grew up at Powerscourt Estate and has had a love of the gardens here from a young age. 

Tell us a little about how you got into gardening – what inspired you and have you always loved plants / seeing things thrive and grow?

My first gardening job was to pull ragwort out of the field beside where I live now when I was about 7. My aunt Wendy paid us a rate of one penny per ragwort pulled. Gardening wise I didn’t have a big garden but I was always outside building bases and trees and wigwams. I was happiest outdoors as a child with my playground being the gardens and river walk. Because I had access to the gardens and the river walk and a massive amount of outdoor space without realising this set in motion my desire to spend time outside as a career – I thought this is something that I can do for the rest of my life. What I was happiest doing as a child – being outside – led to landscaping, gardening and a love of watching things grow and develop.

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Was there a single moment when you knew that you wanted gardening to be your full time profession?

I was 11 and I was going around my mother’s garden and being a bold kid. I was whipping flower heads with a bamboo cane and my mother came out and roared at me and she chased me as far as the river walk and I got in a lot of trouble! From that moment on I started to respect plants and flowers and that’s when I decided to look after rather than destroy them!

Have you ever worked on estate gardens before?

I worked as a landscaper in Glencree for 3 years and then as gardener in a private garden for many years. While studying for my degree in horticulture at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin I began working at Powerscourt and have worked here intermittently for the past 5 years. I became Head Gardener of Powerscourt 1 year ago.

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Are there different considerations for looking after such a huge estate space rather than smaller garden spaces? 

It is the same concept but there is a lot more to prioritise on a large estate. Time management is crucial as it takes a lot of time for tasks compared to a smaller space. For example, a rose bed here is four times as large as one from an average garden.

Are there any gardening jobs that require constant attention on the estate?

The roses, the herbaceous border and the formal gardens all require constant attention. High maintenance areas include the Italian Gardens which have straight lines and have to be perfect – we are constantly cutting the grass there.

How big is your team?

There are 6 permanent staff including myself and we take on 2 seasonal staff each summer.

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What is the main priority for the estate grounds during each of the seasons?

In spring our priority is pruning work, lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials and feeding. In summer there are more routine tasks including grass cutting, dead heading and wedding. In autumn we focus on planting, mulching, planting bulbs and winter bedding. In winter we work mostly on projects such as developing and maintaining paths, hard landscaping and tree work.

What should we look out for, plant wise on the estate this year? 

In Spring Powerscourt is full of vibrant colour with our annual tulip festival featuring over 10,000 tulips in bloom. Daffodils and crocuses bring colour to the gardens each spring. In late spring the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias make their appearance. In summer herbaceous flowers come into bloom, roses and summer flowering shrubs. In winter, winter jasmine, daphnes and evergreen trees add interest to the gardens.

Do you tend to draw up schedules and plans for work on Powerscourt Estate?

I do a weekly plan. Each season I have a target list of tasks to get through. Whether it’s a clearing the lakes, working on the trees or cleaning antique statuary, it’s a very varied job.

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What is your biggest challenge when dealing with Powerscourt Gardens?

My biggest challenge is keeping the quality of the gardens at its peak at all times. We plan our gardening tasks around our opening hours so that certain jobs can be completed outside of visiting hours to maximise the enjoyment of our visitors. We are very weather dependent and the weather can play havoc with managing the gardens. A weekly plan can go out the window when it rains and also when it doesn’t rain!

What’s your favourite part of working on the Estate grounds?

I love the herbaceous border. There is a dramatic change along the border when spring arrives and the plants and shrubs come into bloom. It looks entirely different in July than it does in December – the border is an incredible sight to behold at its best in summer.

One favourite garden fact

Biophilia – The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. As humans we depend upon nature and need to interact with and be part of it. We thrive as human beings when we have access to greenery and enjoy our natural surroundings. It is a very current trend as people are developing an ever increasing love of gardening and an appreciation for the environment.

How can visitors help the establishment of the gardens at Powerscourt?

Our members and other regular visitors to Powerscourt are very helpful to us in terms of both positive and negative feedback about the estate. They are a vital part of the estate and are committed to keeping is as the peaceful haven it is for so many people. They act as an extra pair of eyes for us and are really helpful. As gardeners we are focused on the tasks at hand and trying to tackle the gardening challenges before us. As leisure visitors to the estate, our visitors offer a fresh perspective to us. We always appreciate getting feedback.

Thanks Alex! We will continue this interview with Alex next week, before meeting our other team members soon :)

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Head Gardener's Blog, Wicklow