Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland

The gardens here are completely inspired by Lady Edith of Londonderry, a progressive suffragette from an aristocratic family who was commander in chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve in 1914 after the start of WW1. Her informal style mixed with botanical interest birthed the gardens that still thrive today. On this day I had an introduction to the nursery and the formal gardens with Alan the propagator at Mount Stewart. He explained that the spirit of this place was wild collected plants. As we toured the nursery area I saw so many plants from various regions being grown together, all from seed. A main goal for this garden is to continue building gardeners knowledge of exotic plant collections, in order for the plants to be successful. Alan explained that Mount Stewart is unique, in that it has a microclimate in this northern part of Ireland.  This allows for salt/moisture to take up air space and positively affect the climate around the property, making it possible to grow as many different species as they do now. The gulf stream, pushed up from the Caribbean, is the creator of this warmer microclimate. Alan explained the perspective of Lady Edith; creating impossible planting schemes with a focus on exoticly collected plants. He also said that the Strangford Lough gives Mt Stewart an almost “island climate” allowing warm air to swoop in from the coastline. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with discovering new plants here.