I was at a rare plants fare recently on my trip to Russborough House. This was an ideal opportunity to see, and maybe even acquire a gem or two of plants (depending on budget).
As the weather was quite cool and damp, it was only the hardier gardener folk that were out, which meant at almost every turn there were all sorts of gardening conversations taking place, from plants and their origins, to how to keep slugs at bay using products made from wool.
As I wandered from stall to stall, one particular plant caught my eye, it was the fuchsia-flowering gooseberry, which is actually not a Fuchsia at all, it is a variety of flowering currant, whose flowers look suspiciously similar.
It's actually called Ribes speciosum, and the last time I saw this was about 15 years ago trained against an old wall in the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and was one of those wall trained plants that inspired me at the time.
Surprising to see it after all these years. And then I heard the vendor of the stall say, 'Mr. Cassidy, long time no see'.
It was a good friend from my college years, Mr Ross Doyle, and his lovely wife Ms Mary Keenan. We stayed in contact after college, but as we both got busier, particularly when the children were very young - we just lost touch.
It was great to catch up; they have a garden that can be visited, Gash Gardens, and a small nursery beside it. Look them up, and one place I'm visiting for sure!
I also had a good look at their plant selection and there was two I had to have:
The first was Rodgersia aesculifolia, a lovely herbaceous perennial; when growing in the garden, it has lovely fresh leaves, to about 2-3 ft in height and flowers on stems that grow as high as 4-5 ft, although I grow this guy for the foliage.
The second was Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' a lovely variety of elder that has dark purple foliage and a hazy pink-white flower clusters. The plant will grow to 6-8ft in height, and is a real treat in any garden.
After a good chat, exchange of contact details, it was time to have a browse at other stalls.
Some other nice plants and people - picked up a variegated Lavender along the way - but really was great to meet an old friend.
Already planning my trip to Gash Gardens in County Laois, perhaps I'll meet you there?