Horticulture Connected Winter 2022

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TEAGASC ASH BREEDING FOR TOLERANCE BORDBIA HOMEGROWN SUCCESS WORLDVIEW ORNAMENTAL SPECIAL Landscape, garden retail & edible horticulture news, analysis and trends €6.95 Biodiversity Conservation Sustainability Environment IRELAND'S TRADE MAGAZINE Volume 9 Issue 3 Winter 2022
XXXXXXXXX / 00 2 HC / Winter 2022 05 / INTERVIEW RIGHT PERSON FOR YOUR BUSINESS Featured Job Listing Promoted on Social Media & throughout our networks Packages including Banner Adverts l Company Profile Promoted on our own websites & external job boards horticulture.jobs CALL 087 921 2044 & jobsinhorticulture.ie PROBLEM  Difficulty connecting with qualified and experienced staff?  Not sure how to sell your business to potential candidates?  Wasting time filtering through unqualified candidates? SOLUTION  Connect with and start promoting your business as the place to progress their careers  Ireland’s largest actively working horticulture network.  Our jobs portal allows you to easily filter candidates through your recruitment process RESULT  Professional horticulture team pushing your business forward sales@horticulture.jobs Find the

Every business sector including print media is seeing production and service costs spiralling. Our summer edition saw printing production costs rise by over a third and this current winter production will reflect similar cost rises. Like all horticulture businesses we are resilient and can survive whatever the economy throws at us. The fear though for many of us is Stayflation: Inflation That Won’t Go Away! It is hard to remember a time when the cost of anything actually went down but the occasional gradual increases could always be worked into the successful business equation. Tough decisions have to be made to stay relevant and competitive in the current economic climate. The worst thing any business owner can do is procrastinate. Take corrective actions now so that your business will remain part of this dynamic horticulture sector. In essence, this means correctly valuing your product/service and the time inputs of your staff and yourself in order to remain profitable. Reward and retain staff members by paying rates that make us competitive with other competing sectors such as construction. The argument that we price ourselves out of contracts is irrelevant if you don't have the team behind you to deliver the service anyway. Staying on the treadmill running even faster is not a sustainable business model.

In this edition Teagasc research officer Dheeraj Rathore explains how the genetic makeup of ash diebackresistant trees may hold the key to breeding more tolerant genotypes

while Dónall Flanagan offers options for tree selection in a changing landscape.

TU Dublin lecturer Rachel Freeman reports on the importance of promoting Urban Forests and the people with a passion for making them work at ‘Stepping Stone Forests’.

In our new section, ‘Business Explainer’ James Riordan tells us why Credit Insurance might be good for your business and its cash flow.

An overview of the new RTE series ‘Home Grown’ sponsored by Bord Bia has really captured the imagination of the viewing public alongside a trade audience. Focused specifically on the trade side of our sector, it is delivering an important message by explaining just how much effort goes into delivering horticulture products and services to the general public. With over 20 businesses presented and very healthy viewing figures, we highly recommend it. Catch up on the RTE Player.

Horticulture Connected now in its 9th year of print production is a testament to our many contributors who are passionate about imparting their knowledge to the wider horticulture community. Our advertisers like us still believe in quality print as a vehicle to engage with their existing and potential new customers. The final piece of the success pie for HC had been the ongoing support of Bord Bia and Teagasc. It is their belief in print media as an important and still very relevant part of their overall communication to trade horticulture that makes what we do work. Finally to you our readers we thank you for your continued engagement and support.

The whole team at HC would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. ✽


HorticultureConnected.ie for daily news updates

Fumbally Exchange, Argus House, Blackpitts, Dublin 8, D08 Y273, Ireland

Editorial Team

editor@horticulture.ie Joseph Blair, Tom Galvin, Barry Lupton

Creative Director Tanya Gilsenan - tanya@horticulture.ie

HC Print & Online Advertising 087 921 2044 sales@horticulture.ie www.horticultureconnected.ie

Horticulture.Jobs Advertising 086 856 4445 - sales@horticulture.jobs www.horticulture.jobs

Accounts & Subscriptions

Geraldine O'Neill - 089 477 0492 geraldine@horticulture.ie

Recruitment - www.recruited.ie

LANDSCAPE - Joleen O’Donnell 089 406 7712 - joleen@recruited.ie

CRAFT GARDENER - Lorraine Lightholder 089 406 8694 - lorraine@recruited.ie GARDEN RETAIL & EDIBLE - Patrick Hussey 089 255 7543 - patrick@recruited.ie

Cover Photo & contents photos: "Anima" a living installation by artist Deirdre O'Reilly @deirdre_oreilly7 recently exhibited as part of Sculpture in Context Exhition at the National Botanic Gardens.

Printers: Azure Communications Print Run: 3,000 copies

Distribution: Estimated readership of 10,000 across Ireland to businesses and professionals in the following sectors: Landscape / Garden Retail Florists Nurseries Greenkeepers / Sports Surfaces / Local Authorities & Parks Departments Machinery Education / Edible Horticulture & more...

Publishers: Horticulture Connected Ltd wwwHorticultureConnected. ie

Winter 2022 / HC 1 01 / EDITORIAL
Photo by Cormac McMullan
Sustainability Environment REIMAGINING URBANLANDSCAPE SHARING PATCH, WITH Landscape, diblehorticulturenews,analysis AGAZINE BREEDING TOLERANCE SUCCESSHOMEGBORDBIA WORLDVIEW SPECIALORNAMENTAL Landscape, retail horticulturenews,analysis versity Conservation Sustainability TRADEMAGAZINE


Teagasc research officer Dheeraj Rathore explains how the genetic make-up of ash dieback-resistant trees may hold the key to breeding more tolerant genotypes



James Riordan, of Credit Risk Brokers, explains how to protect your business from the risk of nonpayment of trade debt with a credit insurance policy


Terry O’Regan argues that we need to get the basics right before embarking on the bigger policy changes in landscape design


Horticulture’s future in a digital world was the topic of discussion at the second AIPH World Ornamental Horticulture Summit

Spence Gunn looks at recent developments in greenhouse screen technology which are bringing in new ways to manage energy consumption

TU Dublin lecturer Rachel Freeman highlights the need for more urban forest, placing the work of one man and his innovative new project in the spotlight JOBS

The Latest Horticulture Jobs from Horticulture.Jobs INSIGHT


Féidhlim Harty offers practical advice on sound pond design, as water features are enjoying a welcome resurgence in Irish farm

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CONTENTS BORD BIA 04 All the latest news from Bord Bia TEAGASC 10 All the latest news from Teagasc RESEARCH 14
19 ALL

Showcase your talents on a world-class stage

Bord Bia is seeking creative and ambitious gardeners to design and deliver a prestigious show garden at Bord Bia Bloom 2023. This includes new designers who have the chance to receive financial support and mentoring through our ‘Cultivating Talent’ programme. Applications closing soon. For more information visit: www.bordbiabloom.com/participate

June 1st - 5th 2023, Phoenix Park, Dublin bordbiabloom.com


This autumn, mushroom producers in Ireland - with the support of DAFM through the BAR (Brexit Adjustment Reserve) fund, Bord Bia and mushroom companies - launched a high-impact 360 marketing campaign to shine a spotlight on the vitamin D properties and health credentials of mushrooms.

In a bid to increase frequency of sales from weekly to daily food shops, the campaign’s timely core message is to focus on encouraging grocery shoppers to boost their vitamin D levels by eating more mushrooms. With shorter daylight hours, levels of vitamin D - a vital vitamin needed to facilitate a normal immune systemsignificantly decrease.

Anchored around the message ‘Get Your Vit Hit with Mushrooms’, the fully integrated campaign is being rolled out across a variety of large-scale media, beginning with an informative and vibrant TV advert with 30-second spots around ITV food programming, running live on screens until December 18.

Striking out-of-home 6 sheets are currently live outside over 400 Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco supermarkets and to complement the posters, 10 animated LED versions are being positioned across the UK, all with high footfall locations and within 500 metres of a supermarket. Two visually driven adverts have also appeared in Sainsbury’s magazine, which is distributed nationwide.

The campaign is also amplifying the messaging online through a foodie influencer partnership (in the form of pop-up restaurant activation with a trending chef), as well as a strong social creative on owned channels, with shopper targeted paid media and recipe search retargeting, to drive further online reach and engagement. ✽


Bord Bia welcomed a large number of businesses, ranging from nurseries and retailers, to an Amenity Horticulture Industry Day on October 18, at the Crown Plaza Hotel, in Blanchardstown, Dublin. This was the first in-person event since 2019.

All of the research carried out over the last 18 months was presented to delegates, alongside an opportunity to network with a cross section of participants who came from all four corners of Ireland.



Explores and validates the claims around the health benefits of gardening in the Irish Market.


This research, carried out by Bord Bia since 2001, has recorded data from the gardening market over the last 20 years. In 2021, the highest spend on gardening by consumers was recorded at €1.5bn, surpassing the previous high recorded at the height of the Celtic Tiger era.


Grace explores the main trends evident in the gardening market, arising from the findings of all of the gardening research carried out over the last 12 months, which help nurture the Irish gardener.


Shopping the gardening category can be a minefield for the newer gardener. This work explores the barriers faced by novice gardeners and strategies businesses can use to overcome them.

The engagement and feedback from the delegates who attended was very positive, with Lisa Hardy, General Manager of Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, saying: “We found the day really informative and plan to use the information to refocus on what is key to our customers. All speakers gave some great information and we found this really beneficial from the Garden Centre perspective.” The reports are available on the Bord Bia website at the following links; 20100228-Bord Bia Amenity Sector 2021 Management Report, and The Health Benefits of Gardening (bordbia.ie). ✽

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Romayo’s – the Italian-Irish chain of 21 traditional chip shops based in Dublin and run by the Macari group –teamed up with Bord Bia Quality Assured potato growers Flynns recently, to encourage Irish consumers to enjoy freshly cut chips, wedges and fries made only from locally grown potatoes.

The initiative was announced to mark National Potato Day on Friday, October 7, with Romayo’s restaurants displaying the Bord Bia Quality mark to call out their local, quality assured potato suppliers Paud Flynn & Sons, who have been farming in North County Dublin for over 100 years.

Bord Bia research has found two in three Irish people assume (incorrectly) that the potatoes used to make the majority of chipper chips come from Ireland, when in fact, the vast majority of chipping potatoes are imported each year. Over the last few years, Bord Bia, Teagasc, IFA and the Department of Agriculture have joined forces to increase the volume of home-grown potatoes being sold in Irish chip shops.

Commenting on the partnership, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett said, “Sourcing local produce supports Irish farmers. This is a really successful local partnership where we see two families – the Macaris and the Flynns – demonstrate a best-in-practice collaboration to make locally grown produce more accessible to Irish people. It is encouraging to see Bord Bia seeking to create similar supply chain arrangements between local chippers and local potato producers.”

Dominic Macari, of Romayo’s, said: “Our family emigrated from Italy to Ireland in the 1950s and we are proud to see the third generation of Macaris continue to operate the Romayo’s family-run chain of chippers. Sourcing our potatoes locally from the Flynns, a proud North County Dublin family, makes a lot of sense for us.

"More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from, and we are proud to shout about the fact that our chips are the tastiest possible and made from 100% locally grown potatoes in season. Distance wise, most of Flynn’s potato fields are about 40 minutes’ drive away from most of Romayo’s chip shops. Could any food suppliers be more local?”

Reflecting on the importance of the partnership, Lorcan Bourke, Fresh Produce and Potato Manager at Bord Bia added: “Having chips, wedges or fries is always a real treat. We are delighted to see Romayo’s proudly display the Bord Bia Quality mark and signage featuring potato grower Larry Flynn across all of their chip shops [from this week]. The partnership is proof that Irish growers can grow chipping potatoes of equal and excellent quality to traditional imports. Our research indicates that consumers would prefer freshly cut chipper chips from locally grown potatoes with their characteristic crispy outside and fluffy inside.

“This National Potato Day, we encouraged consumers to ask about the country of origin of the potatoes used to cook the chips they consume from their local chipper and at home. The more consumers become aware of the origin of the potatoes used to make their chips, the greater the market opportunity for Irish potato growers.”


As part of this year’s National Potato Day campaign, Bord Bia highlighted the value for money that potatoes offer to feed family and friends. Tips and recipes were shared to encourage people to cook locally grown, freshly cut chips, wedges, and fries at home. The National Potato Day campaign demonstrated that delicious, freshly cut chips from field to fork only takes three simple steps: clean; cut; cook!

As part of the campaign, Bord Bia worked with two trusted ambassadors with varying lifestyles and audiences – sports nutritionist Daniel Davey and health and lifestyle influencer Jennifer Carroll. Both ambassadors visited local potato growers and created recipe content, each showcasing why they love potatoes.

For recipe inspiration and tips and advice on cooking locally grown, freshly cut chips at home, visit: www. bordbia.ie/potatoes or follow @BordBia on social media.


Bord Bia conducted surveys and research on chippers and Irish-grown potatoes in 2019. The objective was to understand trade and consumers’ knowledge and perceptions of the current sourcing of potatoes in Irish chip shops and their attitudes towards potentially using Irish-grown potatoes. A nationally representative online survey was carried out by Coyne Research amongst 1,000 adults aged 18+

The results of this research explored the following about chippers and Irish-grown Potatoes: chipper visits and preferences; the importance of origin awareness on the likelihood to act in support of local growers and businesses. Usefulness of country-of-origin signage within chip-shops. ✽

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Some 92% of people in Ireland think green spaces in our towns and cities are essential, with 46% of those saying space for leisure and recreation is the most important benefit. That is according to new research published to mark the More Green Cities for Europe seminar, which was hosted by the Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association and Bord Bia on Friday, November 11. The research, conducted by Amárach Research, also found half of those surveyed (50%) believe there are not enough green spaces in their nearest town / city.

According to the research, supporting biodiversity and natural habitats was the second most important benefit of urban green spaces (25%), while mitigating climate change (tree cover, cooling) was the third (11%). Social reasons made up the rest of the top five responses, with 7% saying green spaces improved social cohesion by allowing people from different backgrounds to interact; while 4% said they encouraged pride in one’s local community.

Supported by funding from the European Commission, More Green Cities for Europe aims to highlight the importance of green areas in minimising the consequences of climate change, while raising awareness of the wider benefits green space can offer for human wellbeing, biodiversity, social cohesion and the economy. The campaign targets national and local decision-makers, planners, developers, architects and other sectoral professionals with a view to increasing investment in, and commitment to, the greening of public urban areas.

In Ireland, the initiative aims to increase the proportion of green landscaping in building projects, while encouraging the use of locally grown planting stock. Supporting the initiative, Chairman of the Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association, Val Farrell, said urban greening using native Irish stock is a win-win situation. He added: “The amenity horticulture sector is worth over €77m to the national economy. Supporting local growers in rural areas brings many advantages for planners and developers. Local growers have expertise on the type of stock that is better suited to our Irish climate. Planners and developers can see, touch and smell the stock before making decisions, which will determine the success of their projects. Sourcing stock locally reduces our carbon footprint when transporting stock [so] the case for greening is clear, as is the case for buying Irish. This is supported by new research we commissioned from Amárach Research.”

Michal Slawski, Sector Manager, Horticulture at Bord Bia, said: “Conceived as a solution to mitigate the effects of climate change and increasing urbanisation, More Green Cities for Europe is a timely, urgent and welcome initiative from the European Nursery Stock Association in conjunction with the European Commission. Bord Bia is

committed to assisting Ireland’s amenity sector in making our towns and cities better places to live and work in, through increased green planting that is grown and sold here in Ireland. It is clear from our research that this is what the public wants.

“We all have a responsibility to try to safeguard Ireland’s natural and urban environments for future generations. To this end, I would strongly encourage all those who have a decisive role in city planning, landscape planning, and building design and construction to engage with the More Green Cities for Europe campaign to see what ideas, information and expertise it can offer to support them in this endeavour.”

Award-winning landscape architect Martí Franch Battlori, who is a finalist in the European Prize for Urban Public Space, gave the keynote address at the More Green Cities for Europe seminar.

He is the founding manager of Estudi Martí Franch, an international, interdisciplinary research-led practice in the field of urban and environmental design, based in Girona, Spain.

Leslie Moore, Head of Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services, joined him at Dublin City Council, along with Ronan Nangle, owner of Nangle and Nielsen Wholesale Nursery in County Cork.

For more information visit, https://ie.thegreencities.eu and follow on LinkedIn here: www.linkedin.com/company/ more-green-cities-ireland. ✽

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Bord Bia welcomed a large number of colleges to the David Robinson Memorial Lecture on October 26, with approximately 150 attendees. Bord Bia is the proud sponsor of the annual David Robinson Memorial Lecture, a prestigious event designed to remember the contributions of the late David Robinson and provide an opportunity for horticultural students to come together to learn more about the important contributions horticulture makes to our health, environment and economy.

Mark Gregory a horticulturally trained landscaper based in Southern England, gave an eloquent summation of David’s career.

“Dr. David Robinson was a passionate horticulturist who made an important contribution to its promotion in Ireland and internationally, from research and development, to training and education. Born in Belfast, he studied at Reading and Cornell Universities and completed his doctorate studies at Queen’s University, Belfast. His lifelong study on weed control gained him international recognition. His three-hectare garden, Earlscliffe, in Howth, that he managed alone with his weed control techniques, was designated one of Ireland’s National Plant Heritage Gardens because of the large number of rare and tender plants from the southern hemisphere that flourish there.”

Mark Gregory, is the Managing Director of the Surrey-based landscape design and Build firm, Landform Consultants Ltd, a company of 60 people, including landscape architects, garden designers and a highly skilled workforce. Mark was voted as the ‘Most Influential Person’ within the garden and landscape industry by his peers in January 2018. He has worked at Board Level with BALI, APL, HTA and works tirelessly with many other industry-linked organisations on strategy and mentoring. Mark is an RHS full garden assessor and judge. ✽

Bord Bia has set out a new vision for Bloom - which has grown from its roots as a gardening festival supporting the Irish horticulture industry, into a major outdoor experience and host of over 100,000 consumers in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, each June bank holiday weekendwith the recent appointment of Laura Douglas as new Head of Bord Bia Bloom and Brand Partnerships in 2023.

Laura is a seasoned marketer, who has created and delivered major national events and experiences, such as the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, Carlsberg Cat Laughs and the Vodafone Comedy Festival.

Speaking about the fresh direction for the festival, Laura said: “Bord Bia Bloom is one of Ireland’s most-loved festivals, heralding a vibrant and colourful start to the summer each year. For 2023, we look forward to working closely with creative show garden designers, in partnership with ambitious brands, to continue to build on this success. Our ambition is to reposition Bloom as a world-class, uplifting and innovative horticulture, food and drink experience with nature and sustainable living at its heart.”

With the spotlight shining on new talent for 2023, Mike Neary, Director of Horticulture, Bord Bia said: “The show gardens at the centre of the festival provide an opportunity to showcase the best of talent within the Irish horticultural industry. Our new ‘Cultivating Talent’ initiative will provide an additional incentive to emerging talent to display their skills and creativity alongside some of the more established, award-winning Bloom stalwarts.” Bord Bia Bloom takes place from June 1st – 5th 2023. For more information on sponsorship opportunities at Bord Bia Bloom 2023 visit www.bordbiabloom.com ✽

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Home Grown, the new seven-part series on RTE One, celebrates the Irish horticulture industry and is presented by two of the most dedicated advocates, Kitty Scully and Colm O’Driscoll.

Kitty and Colm travel all over Ireland in search of stories that celebrate Irish horticulture and growing in all its variety, from sports turf for the hallowed ground of Croke Park, to potatoes, carrots, trees and shrubs. As well as stories about the different growers and producers, and recognising the surge in interest in gardening, there are visits to inspirational gardens which are open to the public, as well as insights into the many uses of plants.

You’ll be surprised at how diverse, fascinating and surprising horticulture is. The series began broadcasting on Monday 7th November and runs for seven weeks - but you can catch up on the RTE Player. Here are the highlights of each episode


The series begins at Croke Park – the only stadium in the world to have its own farm where turf is grown for the famous pitch. Colm visits the farm in North County Dublin to see how the turf grass is grown and harvested. Meanwhile, Kitty meets a cut foliage producer whose branches and leaves are used by top

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florists in the UK and other parts of Europe. Later, Colm meets a carrot producer who grows both conventional and organic crops, and the programme ends with a visit to the National Botanic Gardens, in Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow, a stunning garden known for its amazing collection of rhododendrons Stories: (1) Croke Park - Sportsturf (2) James Costello – Irish Green Guys – Cut Foliage (3) Leo Dunne Ltd. - Carrots (4) Inspirational Garden: National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh


Colm visits a third-generation tomato grower to see the latest growing technology in action, while Kitty heads to County Clare and the Irish Seed Savers Association to see how they preserve our heirloom and indigenous seeds. Meanwhile, we also get to visit Annaveigh Plants, in Tipperary, a tree nursery where young trees are planted and looked after for between five and 20 years before they are ready for sale. The inspirational garden this week is Ardán Gardens in Howth, County Dublin, created from a scrubby hillside patch and now one of the country’s most admired gardens. Finally with mushrooms one of Ireland’s most important horticultural exports, Kitty travels to Monaghan to discover the science and innovation behind this success. Stories: (1) Flynn Tomatoes, (2) Irish Seed Savers, (3) Annaveigh Plants (4) Inspirational Garden: Ardán Gardens, Howth (5) Monaghan (Mushrooms)


Kitty visits Enrich.ie, in County Meath, to see how valuable compost is made from green waste products. Colm meets apple grower David Llewellyn, who also grows grapes on his farm in Lusk, North County Dublin, from which he produces wine. Just down the road, in Rush, Kitty sees how technology is changing the way lettuce is grown by the McCann family, at Morning Fresh Farm. Finally, growing turf for lawns has become a big business and Colm travels to Summerhill Lawns in County Meath, one of the country’s largest turfgrass growers, to see how they grow - and mow - acres and acres of lawn.

Stories: (1) Enrich (2) Luska Wine (3) Morning Fresh FarmsLettuce Grower (4) Summerhill Lawns


Colm visits David Loughran who grows seed potatoes for potato farmers, while both presenters visit the World Potato Congress, which took place this year at the RDS, Dublin. Here, they meet some of the world experts in potatoes. Meanwhile, what can you do with misshapen potatoes that are rejected by the supermarkets? A potato farmer in County Wexford decided to find a way to utilise them and has created his own spirit, Jackford’s Gin. Also in this episode, chip potatoes have traditionally come from the UK but this is changing as a group of Irish producers, packers and distributors collaborate in a project to supply homegrown potatoes to Irish chip shops. Finally, Colm heads to Muckross Traditional Farm, in Killarney National Park, to see how potatoes were grown in times past, and hears about another potato by-product - poteen.

Stories: (1) Seed Potatoes, David Loughran (2) World Potato Congress (3) Jackford’s Gin (4) O’Shea Farms - Chipping Potatoes (5) Lazy Beds: growing potatoes the traditional way


The Strawberry-growing season in Ireland now extends to nine months of the year and Colm visits grower Jimmy Kearns to hear more. Meanwhile, each year the Rare and Special Plant Fair is held in a different location and in 2022, it took place in Fota House and Gardens, County Cork, where Kitty went to meet some of the nurserymen and women who grow these unusual plants. Colm studied at the Amenity College at the National Botanic Gardens and he revisits the college to see how horticulture is being taught to today’s students. Kitty meets apple grower Con Trass in Tipperary and is amazed to learn that more than 90% of the apples we eat in Ireland are imported. Finally, Tully Nurseries is one of the nurseries which supplies the country’s garden centres and other retailers with plants, and Colm meets two generations of the family at the glasshouses where the plants are grown Stories: (1) Jimmy Kearns – Strawberry grower (2) The Rare & Special Plant Fair at Fota (3) Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, Botanic Gardens Glasnevin (4) The Apple Farm, Con Trass - Apple Orchards (5) Tully Nurseries


Colm meets Broadcaster Darragh McCullough - who is wellknown to viewers as a co-presenter of Ear to the Ground - but he’s also one of the country’s largest daffodil growers. Kitty visits Bord Bia Bloom, the largest food, drink and horticulture festival in Ireland, to see what’s on offer to the newest generation of garden enthusiasts. Also in this episode, Colm heads west to Galway, to meet an organic farmer whose ambition 20 years ago was to make Ireland fully organic. Finally, Kitty used to be the Head Gardener at the Airfield Estate (a job also held until recently by Colm) and she returns there to tell us about the legacy left by the Overend Sisters: Airfield is a charitable trust dedicated to education, and is Dublin city’s only working farm open to visitors.

Stories: (1) ElmGrove Farm, Daffodils – Darragh McCullough (2) Bord Bia Bloom – featuring Mike Neary, Carol Marks, Fiann O’Nuailann & more. (3) Beechlawn Organic Farm (4) Airfield Estate & Gardens


For the final programme in the series, Kitty travels to Clonakilty, Cork, to meet Réidín Beattie, who grows and dries her own plants and uses them to make skincare products. Colm heads to Wexford and Kilkenny to meet Pat Fitzgerald from Beotanics, who has managed to grow wasabi in Ireland - a real achievement as it’s one of the hardest plants to grow. And as it’s Christmas time on Home Grown, follow Kitty to Wicklow to visit Kavanagh Christmas tree farm, while Colm chats to one of Ireland’s largest growers of Poinsettias. The inspirational garden in this episode is the extraordinary and dramatic Kells Bay Gardens in County Kerry, well-known for its sub-tropical tree ferns. Stories: (1) Réidín Beattie - skin care from plants (2) Beotanics – Pat Fitzgerald (3) Kavanagh Christmas Trees (4) Uniplumo - Poinsettias (5) Kells Bay Gardens, Billy Alexander – Inspirational Garden ✽ ALL EPISODES AVAILABLE ON THE RTE PLAYER.

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The Leaf No Waste team, which includes two Teagasc members, has been awarded €2m in funding by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to develop an innovative solution that could reduce food waste through a novel combination of plant fortification and sustainable packaging for horticulture crops.

The Leaf No Waste team is led by Lorraine Foley (TU Dublin) along with core team members Prof. Jesus Frias Celayeta (TU Dublin) and Dr. Lael Walsh and Dr. Shivani Pathania (Teagasc). The Societal Impact Champion

During the initial phases of the Food Challenge competition, the Leaf No Waste team identified that despite greater consumer demand for more sustainable and compostable packaging, its use can cause premature food spoilage and increase food waste.

To address this problem, the Leaf No Waste team plans to explore this issue from a new perspective which will combine silicon plant biostimulant and compostable plastic packaging design. Specifically, the team is developing a solution that could potentially tackle food waste by combining silicon-based fortification with compostable plastic packaging to boost the shelf life of a range of Irish products. For more information, contact Dr Lael Walsh (lael.walsh@teagasc.ie), who leads the horticulture sustainability research programme in Teagasc, or Dr Shivani Pathania (Shivani.pathania@teagasc.ie), who leads the sustainable packaging task in Teagasc. ✽



Teagasc recently appointed new fruit researcher Dr. Alberto Ramos Luz as Research Officer in the Horticulture Development Department. Alberto (inset) will be based in Oakpark, Carlow and will lead research projects to support the development of the applegrowing industry in Ireland. His work will initially focus on finding apple varieties with suitable market and agronomic characteristics and developing production protocols to meet yield, quality and consistency requirements.

Alberto, a Brazilian native, has been working with and studying apple trees since 2006, when he began work with Agropecuária Schio, the largest Brazilian


apple grower. He specialises in temperate fruit crops – especially apples and pears - tree management, training systems, evaluation of cultivars and rootstocks. Alberto qualified as a Technologist in Fruit Crops in 2010, this was followed by a Masters in Plant Production in 2012 and a PhD in 2016. He has worked as a Research Scholar at UC Davis (USA) and most recently worked at UDESC, researching the behaviour of apple trees grafted on different rootstocks. Alberto said: “I look forward to developing an innovative, and forward-thinking applied research program, addressing the needs of Irish fruit growers.” Alberto Ramos Luz can be contacted at Alberto.RamosLuz@teagasc.ie ✽

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SoftGrip is a three-year EU-funded project that could revolutionise the harvesting of mushrooms and address the severe labour shortage issues facing the sector. The project aims to develop a soft robotic ‘gripper’ designed especially for harvesting delicate produce. It will be integrated with a vision system to accurately detect and identify the mushrooms to be harvested.

Two data collection workshops have now taken place at the Teagasc Mushroom Research Facility at Ashtown. Scientists specialising in advanced materials from Germany, along with computer software and advanced robotics engineers from institutes in Greece, Italy and UK, came together to start the process of refining the individual components of a robotic harvesting system. A preliminary vision system to visualise mushrooms was put through its paces with a mushroom crop. A technique of ‘imitation-learning’ using tactile sensors attached to a harvester’s hand was used to gather data for algorithms that will direct the computer-controlled mushroom gripper. A number of flexible soft grippers were evaluated to identify the most suitable type for the successful picking and outrooting of mushrooms. The next workshop will take place in December and we are looking forward to all three elements of the system being integrated together for the first time. Exciting times ahead! For more information, contact helen.grogan@teagasc.ie; www.softgrip-project.eu

SoftGrip is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101017054 ✽

The horticulture sector is facing immediate pressure to switch to peat-free growing substrates. Yet current commercial Brassica varieties are bred to yield well and meet consumer taste and flavour preferences in current peat-based growing substrates. The shift to peat-free alternatives may have significant impacts on these properties. This new research project addresses an immediate need to understand how crop physiology, nutritional, sensory (taste and flavour) and postharvest quality will be impacted by a shift away from peat-based substrates.

The four-year collaboration between Teagasc, The University of Reading and The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) will see Walsh Scholar-PhD candidate Luke Barnes assess the physical and biochemical responses of Brassicas to compare commercial and non-commercial (gene-bank) genotypes grown in peat-based and peat free substrates. The research will measure phytochemical content in combination with evaluating postharvest shelflife quality and longevity. It will also consider sensory and consumer analysis to assess acceptance. Luke (inset) brings a research background and skill set (evaluating texture, yield, and shelf-life) from vertical farming startups in the UK and Italy to this new research.

For more information contact the research team in Ireland; Dr Lael Walsh: lael.walsh@teagasc.ie or Dr Dilip Rai: dilip.rai@teagasc.ie ✽

For more information on any element of this e-zine, please contact: Dermot Callaghan, Teagasc Head of Horticulture Development Department. Email: dermot.callaghan@teagasc.ie; Dónall Flanagan, Teagasc Nursery Stock/Ornamentals Specialised Advisor. Email: Donall.Flanagan@teagasc.ie; teagasc.ie

Winter 2022 / HC 11 03 /TEAGASC


Vegetable growers are adopting mechanical and robotic technology as the sector moves increasingly towards reduced herbicide usage. While many variations of mechanical hoes exist, one that is being successfully implemented by Irish vegetable growers is the Garford Robocrop InRow Weeder.

This tractor-mounted machine uses a digital video camera to capture images of the crop ahead of the machine. The images are analysed to map the position of each plant which help to laterally steer the machine and synchronise toolbars attached to each individual unit. This technology allows the units to continuously adjust rotation speed to match plant spacing. The toolbars are disc-shaped at the base and rotate around the plant just below the surface of the soil, uprooting weeds in their path.

The photograph (left) shows John B. Dockrell Ltd's Garford Robocrop InRow Weeder hoe in action on their Iceberg lettuce crop. It is an integral part of their weedcontrol strategy and allows them to reduce pesticide usage while achieving excellent weed control results without having to revert to labour-intensive, inefficient manual methods. This is a great example of mechanical and robotic innovation being adopted by the vegetable industry to mitigate challenges and continuously improve the quality of their produce. ✽



We would welcome your participation in this survey as part of the Teagasc project Beyond Peat (funded by DAFM) on peat-alternative growth media, by scanning the QR code or by visiting our webpage.

It is being circulated amongst key sectors of commercial horticultural producers (ornamental plants, HNS, fruit, vegetables, mushrooms) and other growth media users in Ireland. Your feedback as professional growers is crucial, not only to understand what specific properties of growth media are important for individual production systems/crops, but also to highlight what opportunities and impacts you envisage for your business in the potential absence of peat-based growth media, and also to collate your experiences to date with peat-reduced and peat-free growth media.

Owing to numerous favourable physical, chemical and biological attributes, peat has become an essential component in the production of plants and mushrooms in professional horticulture. It has also typically been widely available and affordable. However there is a pressing need to evaluate and develop alternatives which have a more favourable environmental profile without ignoring the requirements of professional growers in terms of performance, consistency, availability and cost.

The Beyond Peat project was established to independently assess the agronomic and economic implications of alternative growing and casing materials, working to inform national policy while supporting professional horticultural sectors in a transition away from peat use, where achievable in a sustainable manner. All details can be found on our web page www.teagasc.ie/crops/horticulture/beyond-peat. ✽



Like many businesses, Teagasc has been making efforts to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels and become more energyefficient. Teagasc has developed a Decarbonisation Strategy that entails reaching a 50% energy efficiency improvement and a new carbon emission reduction target of 50%. The strategy will guide the organisation towards meeting its 2030 targets.

Some important initiatives have recently been completed:

● EV charging points have been installed at each research centre and college. These can be used by the public also via the plug surf app.

● Teagasc has 12 Hyundai Ioniq fully electric fleet cars and

two electric vans.

● Biomass heating systems in use at seven different Teagasc facilities

● Aerobic digester installed in Ashtown

● Over the last two years Teagasc has progressed on a number of Energy Efficiency Projects including:

➤ Grange anaerobic digester & bio methane production facility

➤ LED light retrofit at six of our Research Centres and Colleges

Solar PV installed at three research centres and six advisory offices. This is in addition to four arrays installed in previous years.

Sustainable energy use in horticulture webinars were recorded this autumn looking in detail at PV, wind and biomass energy. The recordings are available on our YouTube channel. Scan the QR code to see all recordings. ✽

12 HC / Winter 2022 TEAGASC / 03
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European common ash (Fraxinus excelsior ; Irish: Fuinseóg) is one of the most important native broadleaf tree species of our hedgerows and traditional woodlands. The species is now under threat from Ash Dieback disease (ADB), caused by the invasive fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Ash dieback is a highly destructive disease of ash trees (Fraxinus species), especially the Irish native common ash. The disease causal agent originated in Asia, and was first found in Europe in the 1990’s. In Ireland, the ash dieback was first noticed in 2012. The disease is observed in all counties in Ireland. Symptoms of the disease include leaf death, shoot dieback, diamond shape lesions on branches/tree trunk, and crown thinning eventually resulting in the death of most trees. Ash trees have evolved and co-exist with a native fungus – Hymenoscyphus albidus that also causes dieback of branches, but rarely affects the tree growth and kills the tree. While, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus is a more aggressive fungal pathogen from Asia, and has a more devastating effect on our Irish ash trees, killing the majority of them. Previous research shows that around 1% of the ash population exhibit a higher level of tolerance to this more potent pathogen, and up to 10% of trees show a good level of tolerance. This resistance is controlled by several genes and is heritable from tolerant healthy

trees to their offsprings. Therefore, by identifying these healthy ash trees that have a high level of tolerance, we can breed and produce ash genotypes that are tolerant to the disease.

In Teagasc, an ash-breeding programme to develop dieback tolerant genotypes started in 2015. As part of this research work, a field trial consisting of 1000 Irish genotypes was established in

14 HC / Winter 2022
As ash dieback disease continues to cause widespread decline of ash trees across Ireland, Teagasc Research Officer Dheeraj Rathore explains how the genetic make-up of dieback-resistant trees may hold the key to breeding more tolerant genotypes

Lithuania; a high disease pressure region, to screen and identify dieback- tolerant Irish genotypes. In addition to this, we also established gene-banks comprising 208 ash genotypes from 16 European countries that showed higher levels of tolerance to dieback in their provenances, to study their tolerance and suitability to Irish climatic conditions.

Preliminary data collected over the last two years from the ash gene-bank in Castlemorris shows that around 28% of the 208 ash genotypes are showing good levels of tolerance to the dieback disease. In addition, around 5% of these ash genotypes exhibit a higher level of tolerance with no sign of dieback to-date. These results are promising and very exciting, however tree breeding is a long term process, thus further testing and screening is required.

In Teagasc, we are working with national and international partners to identify, select, screen phenotypically, genetically, and monitor healthy ash trees for disease tolerance to breed ash genotypes that are productive and future-ready for climate change. In addition, we are collecting seeds from healthy trees to grow them and screen for disease tolerance at seedling stage. With this work, we aim to identify a diverse and large number of ash trees with good tolerance levels to ash dieback at an early stage. The selected healthy trees will be further screened for tolerance in two different ways; via molecular fingerprinting, and directly through controlled inoculations.

Moreover, research is focused on developing vegetative micropropagation techniques to rapidly multiply the tolerant genotypes for further testing under field conditions and in multiple locations. We also have an indoor seed orchard

established this year consisting of 28 ash genotypes that show a good level of tolerance. The seed from these trees will be harvested to sow, grown seedlings and screen for the dieback disease tolerance and other resilient traits.

The long-term aim of this work is to multiply these tolerant genotypes to establish clonal seed orchards, seedline seed orchards and continue field-testing the clones and their progeny to restore ash in the Irish landscape.

The Teagasc ash breeding research is conducted in collaboration with national and international partners along with Coillte and the Office of Public Works to establish multiple gene banks and field trials of tolerant ash across Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) continues to support the research work on ash breeding and genetic conservation led by Teagasc.

You can find all our information on Ash Dieback here https://bit.ly/-ashdieback or scan the link to watch a short video of breeding work and research we are undertaking to develop a better strong Ashtree fit for the Irish environment.


is a tree improvement researcher at Teagasc, Forestry Development Department. He is leading the Teagasc ash breeding programme to breed genotypes that are highly tolerant to dieback disease, productive and adapted for the changing climate. He can be contacted at Dheeraj. Rathore@teagasc.ie

Winter 2022 / HC 15 04 / RESEARCH
In Ireland, ash dieback was first noticed in 2012. The disease can now be observed in all counties in Ireland
Betula Spider Alley © Woodstock Nursery Photo by Matt Lohan



These trees are hardy pioneer species native to Ireland. A wide selection of ornamental varieties are available including the Irish bred 'Spider Alley'. An improved selection of native Irish birch has been developed by Teagasc and are commercially available. Birch thrive where there is an adequate level of moisture.


Alder Alnus trees is well recognised for use in shelter belts but their robust nature makes them versatile for use in urban and more natural settings. Most species prefer a slightly damp site but A. rubra and A. incana laciniata will tolerate dry sites, Alnus spaethii is a very popular conical street tree. Teagasc has been active in breeding improved selections of A. glutinosa since 2014


Acer pseudoplatanus is another robust tree tolerant of exposed sites. It supports honey bees and pollinating insects due to the honey dew produced by aphids.

Sycamore is a large tree suited to farms, parkland and avenues but selections such as Negenia and Simon Louis Freres make excellent street and garden trees.


With native elms almost entirely wiped out over 40 years ago due to Dutch Elm Disease, a wide selection of tried and tested varieties are now available. Some of the most resistant varieties include; Dodoens, Pioneer, Homestead, Resista New Horizon and Reboona. They are also tolerant of exposed sites and salt laden wind.


Possibly the hardiest of our native trees, they are at home in hedgerows and as solitary trees. Their flowers are a great nectar source for bees followed by red berries in the Autumn. Varieties such as C. x lavalleei ‘Carrierei’, C. pinnatifida ‘Big Ball’ and Pauls Scarletts are attractive garden trees. C. punctata ‘Ohio Pioneer’ is suitable as a street tree. The single flowered Crataegus succulenta ‘Jubilee’ is also highly resistant to Fireblight. ✽

Winter 2022 / HC 17 04 / RESEARCH
Dónall Flanagan selects some options for Ash replacement for nursery stock growers and landowners. IMAGE CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT; ULMUS DODOENS (©NANGLE & NIESON), TEAGASCS’ IMPROVED SELECTION OF ALDER AND BOTTOM RIGHT BETULA
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Credit insurance indemnifies sellers when trade receivables are not paid for by buyers (debtors)

In other words, the insurance policy covers the risk of loss caused by a buyer’s insolvency or by their defaulting on an agreed debt (credit sale).

That said, credit insurance is not just about having claims paid.


When it comes to the risk of loss from bad debts, informed decisions can be made on levels of credit provided based on the insurer's review of that buyer.


There are a number of credit insurers operating in Ireland, with Atradius, Coface & Allianz Trade (formally Euler Hermes) being the main three; others include Tokio Marine HCC, AIG, Credendo, Chubb, QBE and Nexus. Each offers different options but in general a policy can be tailored to the client’s trade, with the addition of varying modules to a basic policy structure, whether they are an importer, a wholesale or a transport business.


The information held by a credit insurer tends to be more than publicly available financial information or filed accounts. They also have management accounts, details of payment patterns and records of previous defaults.


Some insurers have their own debt collection and legal teams to assist with the recovery of monies owed. Depending on the insurer, this can be included as part of the policy, or fees are heavily discounted for the policy holder.


When insured, the policy holder is usually informed about any negative information relating to their buyer, whether it is updated financials or poor payment performance to another insured buyer. This information is considered by most to be the second reason for obtaining and keeping a policy.

Credit insurance policies can cover one buyer, known as a single risk policy. Some six out of seven buyers have a multibuyer policy, or a whole turnover policy, which covers all credit sales above a predetermined excess level.

The level of credit sales expected in the policy period (estimated insurable turnover) is the main driver for pricing the premium but the level of bad debts in recent years - the main risks (the buyers and their credit limits) - impact the cost also. For an exporter, the countries sold to are also considered, especially if they are outside the OECD. Political risk cover can be sought in many countries, if required.


Obtaining terms for a policy is easy: a simple one-page questionnaire is populated and given to an insurer, who assesses the risk appetite for the main buyers and then provides an offer of terms. Using a specialist broker for this can streamline the process and return a full market response.

A credit insurance policy can be assigned to an invoice discounter provider so that claims can be paid to them if they have funded against the debt. Some lenders insist on there being a policy in place before providing support for this type of funding.

Credit Insurance by its nature is designed to provide peace of mind, information, and bad debt protection but it can also provide structure and guidance to a credit function resulting in reduced debtor days and improving cash in a business. ✽

Our thanks to James Riordan of Credit Risk Brokers for producing this fact sheet. Credit Risk Brokers (CRB) is one of Ireland’s leading specialists in Credit Insurance and Surety Bonds. They are also a founding member of Farosol, a global alliance of leading brokers. CRB has offices in Dublin and Belfast. For more information, go to www. creditriskbrokers.com or telephone James Riordan at +353 86 6019200.

Winter 2022 / HC 19 05 / BUSINESS EXPLAINER


There are many ‘Covid 19’ lessons we might usefully take on board as we face other daunting challenges – such as global warming/climate change – if we have the requisite wisdom, will and leadership and bear in mind the equal importance of the little picture versus the big picture and how people can suddenly depend on their local landscape.

Responding to Covid 19 required individuals, communities, local/state authorities and international bodies to act in unison, in accordance with agreed regulations and rules. Such good governance does not come easy, as I have learned over a lifetime in the Irish landscape sector.


When I first proposed a national landscape policy 30 years ago, I wasn’t thinking about the bigger picture, rather about little pictures, like the (pictured) sorry examples of Irish landscaping craft. These are not photographs taken 30 years ago. They are recently completed projects on the outskirts of Cork City.

Maybe it’s only an old landscape professional like me that recoils from the sight. I hope that it is the exception and whilst I cringe when I see landscaping of this standard; I rejoice when I see high-quality work and there are many examples of that

around today.

There are many reasons why a fine building project ends up looking like this. It may have been a ‘design and build’ project or an e-tenders misfire. The specification may have been loose or almost non-existent. There may have been no professional supervision. The price agreed may have been too low. I realise that the landscape contractor is the last man/woman standing and may have been presented with shallow, stony, so-called ‘topsoil’ spread over compacted subsoil.

The profession/sector has tried to raise standards over the years. The Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland (ALCI) in its earliest days worked on an agreed specification with landscape architects and published a document around the 1970s. Many landscape architects strive to apply British Standards to projects, but they were often stymied by being engaged for the design and specification stage, but not given a project supervisory role.

In the 1980s, I thought the UK Garden Festival concept might be usefully adapted for Ireland as a means of raising standards and the profile of the sector. I even brought one of the designers of the early festivals over to Malahide to deliver a presentation.

In the 1990s I thought a National Landscape Policy just might drive awareness of the importance of the sector and generate

20 HC / Winter 2022
To implement policy changes and objectives concerning the management, protection and planning of the landscape, we need to get the basics right, argues Terry O’Regan

the resources to provide regulation and policing. As we now know to our cost, regulation/policing had gone out of favour, resulting in uninhabitable new apartments, with new houses and schools falling apart and more besides.

There have been other initiatives. The ALCI has an annual awards scheme highlighting the very best that the industry can deliver. The Irish Landscape Institute also has an awards scheme achieving a similar outcome. The very successful Bord Bia ‘Bloom’ event has contributed hugely to the public awareness of quality design and construction. Bord Glas/Bia made other important contributions over the years most notably their Quality Awards Scheme.

But are we still letting poor quality work and unviable low prices drag the sector down to the lowest common denominator?

Individually, there are limited options available to contractors and consultants. Contractors might identify building contractors with whom they were not prepared to work, or not respond to their tender enquiries or pricing. Consultants might try to be selective with regards to the contractors on the tender list and have a rigorous snagging approach – easier said than done! The relatively recent public procurement process has not helped. There is an urgent need for that whole process to be reviewed and reconsidered. It may seem to deliver the lowest tender, but does it deliver value for money in the final analysis?


The bigger picture - at state and European level - is not encouraging either. Yes, the call for a National Landscape Policy in 1995 and the opening of the European Landscape Convention for signing/ratification in 2000 did finally result in an Irish strategy document in 2015. But to all intents and purposes the engine of the National Landscape Strategy (NLS) faltered and died in 2018.

Through Landscape Alliance Ireland I have been writing to Malcolm Noonan, Minister for State at the Department for Housing, Local Government & Heritage, who has responsibility for implement-

ing the NLS, urging him to ‘push-start’ the stalled strategy. This year, I wrote in May and the reply in October informed me that “the department [Housing, Local Government & Heritage] is carrying out a workforce planning exercise and a proposal has been submitted for increased staffing resources to deliver this [NLS] strategy and related priorities.’

A cabinet-approved national strategy prepared over many years involving active input from the voluntary sector and two public consultation exercises is akin to a ‘good governance contract’ with the citizens of the state. Further, the state entered into a ‘moral contract’ with fellow members of the Council of Europe in 2002, when it signed and ratified the European Landscape Convention.

When it launched the National Landscape Strategy 2015-2025, the state was obligated to concurrently put in place the requisite resources to ensure consistent, on-time implementation.

I acknowledge the minister also noted that “ongoing work led by the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out pilot landscape character assessments and carry out a literature review to inform the development of a Landscape Character Assessment Toolkit for use by local authorities." This is to be welcomed even if it is but one piece of the comprehensive NLS/ELC (European Landscape Convention) integrated jigsaw.

As I write, the COP 27 environmental conference is taking place in Egypt. This is very much about that bigger picture and the depressing newsfeed emerging from same demonstrates that the challenges we face in Ireland with regard to good governance are universal and daunting.

You have to ask (in the late Dermot Morgan sermon-style), “Isn’t it time for less cop-out and more cop-on!”

We may not have tropical rain forests in Ireland, though you might think otherwise this autumn/winter; but every green space we design/create counts – it is incumbent on us to ensure that they are not alone fit for human recreation, but also that the plants are sufficiently healthy and resourced with an appropriate root-growth zone to make a local contribution to global warming reduction over their lifetime.

The Rio environmental conference in the 1990s urged us to think global, but act local. The hungry, stony subsoil of my Cork site is as local as it gets for action. If we want every project to come with quality landscaping and healthy thriving trees, we simply have got to get the basics right.

Liam Griffin, in a radio interview after he guided Wexford to All-Ireland glory in 1996, when asked about his secret for success, remarked that “the only man who knows where he’s going is the man pushing the wheelbarrow” – there is a depth of wisdom in that observation. There are many wheelbarrows laden with strategies, policies, plans, promises and unwritten landscaping regulations parked in our departmental corridors, but we urgently need more barrow-pushers!. ✽

TERRY O’REGAN pursued a career in the Irish landscape sector for some 50 years as a contractor and consultant, before “retiring” recently. For much of that time, he was also an advocate of ‘bigger picture’ and ‘outside the box’ thinking. He continues with the latter and also provides a mentoring service for landscapers, he can be contacted at 087 240 7618 and terryjoregan@gmail.com

Winter 2022 / HC 21



light levels for the crop

There seems little hope of a reverse in the eyewatering energy price hikes whch started at the end of the Covid-19 lockdowns and accelerated through the political responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine –leaving growers facing inflated and volatile energy costs for the foreseeable future.

It has, however, brought energy-saving greenhouse environment control back into sharp focus, including the potential offered by the latest screen materials and climate systems which enable screens to be kept closed for longer.


“At the start of this crisis, we were hesitant to approach growers as we knew how

painful the situation was,” says Bart Bakker, greenhouse climate consultant for Dutch screens supplier Svensson. “But growers have been coming to us wanting to talk about technology that will help them cut costs.”

For example, interest in adding a second screen to the single-screen installations most already have has soared. The space between the two climate screens, when closed, acts in the same way as double glazing. “If a single screen offers you a 47 per cent energy saving, a double screen can give you 63 per cent, and that’s significant,” he says.

“Modern highly transparent screens can be kept closed for longer while current energy prices mean a quick return on investment. We have a calculator based

on heating temperatures, screen hours, the type of installation and so on, to work out the benefits of single or double screens to a nursery.”

The choice of material for the additional screen depends on the crop. For many cut flower, bedding or pot plant crops, the first screen is usually installed for shade, so the second would likely be to save energy.


Keeping the screens closed for longer may reduce energy costs but this may requirea change of approach to other aspects of climate control, notably humidity. “That’s one reason we started looking into the use of fans in conjunction with screens,” says Bakker. “The result is our ClimaFlow system developed

22 HC / Winter 2022
Recent developments in greenhouse screen technology bring new ways to manage energy consumption and optimise

in conjunction with the fan company Hinova, which is now part of Svensson.”

It combines Hinova’s Ventilation Jet System and Svensson’s advisory service, Climate House, he says. Ducts suck air downwards from the top of the greenhouse, while vertical fans below the screens distribute this cooler, drier air around the crop. Svensson’s design model works out the best duct and fan positions depending on the greenhouse structure and crops grown.

“We’re using the principles of ‘plant empowerment’ previously known as next-generation growing,” says Bakker. “The aim is to keep the screens closed as long as possible, vent above them, and use downward air movement through the closed screens to manage humidity. You achieve the optimum climate evenly across the crop and, as warm air rising from the crop is recirculated, you can run lower pipe temperatures too.”


The interaction between crop temperature and light levels can result in wasted energy if plants receive enough heat but too little light for optimum growth. “I suspect many growers in floriculture err towards giving too much shade,” says Bakker. “That’s understandable but may mean missing an opportunity to improve quality or throughput speed.”

Svensson’s PARperfect screen solution, introduced four years ago, is designed to optimise crop light levels. It uses highly lightdiffusing materials in a double-screen set-up which can control light levels precisely and

evenly across the crop.

“Diffuse light penetrates the crop canopy better; hardly any shadow is cast and the whole crop receives the same amount of light,” says Bakker.

The lower screen is typically a highly diffusing material such as Svensson’s Harmony 2047 FR, which gives about 20 per cent shading but a high degree of ‘light scatter’. The upper screen is usually a heavier shade or even completely opaque. The screens open and close independently but always with some ‘overlap’, so although there is good airflow past the screens, the crop never receives any direct light.

The screen positions are controlled by light sensors for outside solar radiation and at crop level via the greenhouse environmental computer to meet a setpoint. On a bright spring morning, for example, the lower screen might be at 30 per cent closed and the upper at 70 per cent to achieve, say, a 250 micromol per sqm per second setpoint. If it becomes cloudier, the upper screen pulls back while the lower draws over, so the setpoint is maintained.


The control programme can also predict if the crop is likely to reach saturation point – when it has received as much light as it can use – during the day. If so, it will automatically lower the setpoint, so the screens adjust to provide more shade.

There is, though, a lack of detailed information still on the optimum light levels for most floriculture crops, points out Bakker. “The main exception is Phalaenopsis, where growers know precisely how many micromoles to use at each stage in the growth cycle,” he says. “For most other floriculture crops, the information is less sophisticated, and growers base shade screen decisions on experience.

“But this is now improving thanks to research, for example, at Wageningen University & Research as part of its ‘Manage your Light’ programme. And I’d really welcome discussions with growers about using sensors in crops to see how their plants respond physiologically at different light levels.

"Without taking risks, I think we could look at adding a few percentage points of extra light each year to explore where the optimum is for a crop.”

Bakker says the key benefit of using screens, rather than greenhouse claddings, to diffuse and control incoming light is flexibility. “You can get more light to the crop when you need it, but the degree of shade is so flexible and

controllable: young plants can be given more shade, and you can reduce it as they progress through the growing cycle.”

It’s sometimes not easy to benefit financially from better quality in floriculture crops, but Bakker points to one early adopter of PARperfect who grows Campanulas, a relatively fast crop notoriously susceptible to price fluctuations, depending on the weather: prices fall in hot weather when production accelerates and rise in cooler conditions when plants take longer to finish.

“Optimising light levels means he no longer experiences peaks and dips in growth rates,” he says. “And that has improved overall profitability.”


Svensson’s PARperfect system was specified when The Plant Company of Virginia, USA, built its first 2-ha greenhouse in 2020, specialising in premium tropical houseplants for the retail market.

The finished plants, in 12 and 17-cm pots, are grown in three to four months, mainly from tissue culture. “The even distribution of light at crop level was the most attractive feature,” says co-founder Frank Paul. “Tropical foliage plants generally don’t like direct sunlight.”

The set-up combines a lightdiffusing Harmony 2047 screen below a shadier Harmony 5747 FR. The nursery’s light accumulation targets range from 4.5 to 12 mol per sqm per day, depending on the crop. The greenhouse is divided into six separate compartments, each with its own screen control.

So far, says Paul, results are in line with expectations. “The only thing I would do differently next time is replacing the upper shade screen with a light abatement one,” he says. “From mid-spring till mid-fall, we have more than enough outside light, and the current upper screen is letting too much light through, meaning we also apply one or two layers of whitewash to the roof to reach our desired light levels.

“When we were planning the installation, I was hesitant in choosing a light abatement material because I was afraid the light at crop level was going to be uneven. But I’ve since seen a few projects with the Harmony 2047 FR light abatement screen combination, and it seems to work well.” ✽

Winter 2022 / HC 23 07 / AIPH WORLDVIEW


Horticulture’s future in a digital world was the topic of discussion at the second AIPH World Ornamental Horticulture Summit, held on 28th September at Expo Floriade 2022 in Almere, the Netherlands

Digital’ is a life attitude,” said keynote speaker Domingo Iudice. “You have to adapt quickly and surf all the opportunities available. It’s painful, but it works.”

Domingo founded the digital marketing agency Brainpull, based in Italy, in 2012. Today, the company has 80 members of staff in Puglia, Milan and the US. In his presentation, he used examples from his career to illustrate the immense benefit of using digital tools to reach potential customers.

“Digital squares change rapidly, but they

always offer great opportunities. They are the largest meeting places in the world and influence customer purchases. Digital tools allow businesses to gain feedback, control processes and connect with people.”


AIPH Secretary General Tim Briercliffe led a panel on ‘Our future in a digital world.’

He was joined by industry leaders Jan van Dam – CEO of Dutch Flower Group; Steven van Schilfgaarde – CEO of Royal FloraHolland; Abe van Wingerden – Co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses; and Pablo Bazzani

– Sales and Marketing Director for Plazoleta Flowers.

“There is no one social media; there are so many parts you have to be ready to play in,” Abe commented. “We do research, find out what people are searching for online and share this information with retailers so they can plan their digital content,” said Van Dam. “But this is just a part of the total marketing plan.”

Bazzani added: “We’re always paying attention to the final consumer, what the seasonal trends are, so we can take action about what we’re posting. This way, we try

24 HC / Winter 2022 AIPH WORLDVIEW / 07

to influence the market. But as a grower, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to commit to these strategies.”

Van Schilfgaarde said: “I’m focusing on the B2B side of things, connecting farmers to sellers. Social media is a useful tool for enabling communication between them.”


Attendees also heard from Justin Hancock, Senior Brand Marketing Manager for Costa Farms. He explained how and why Costa Farms is utilising digital tools. “The current consumer might not be using digital, but tomorrow’s consumer is,” he said. “We have to get in front of them.

“More and more consumers are spending more and more time on social media. You don’t want to make consumers come to you; you need to get to where they are. Social media also lets you build a relationship with your consumers.”

Hancock also highlighted the value of collecting data from online sources, which may be from direct feedback by a consumer, but there is an equally valuable source of data that can be taken from social media. Digital platforms allow producers to find what is trending and how people engage with products, giving companies insight into their customers’ needs.

Taking a step away from the digital world, Dr Tosca Ferber, Research Director for Dümmen Orange, presented the cutting-edge science used to secure a successful future in plant breeding. “A breeder creates a specific variety for a specific market,” she said. “Getting the right consumer information is crucial, but there are a lot of gaps between understanding what the consumer wants and production in the greenhouse.”

To achieve this, breeders must utilise game-changing technologies that reduce waste and time while increasing impact. This focus, she says, is the key to innovation in floriculture.


According to a 2022 Shopify report, 61 per cent of consumers trust influencer recommendations. One such influencer is Darryl Cheng, creator of the House Plant Journal and author of The New Plant Parent.

Darryl presented a different perspective on communicating with consumers via social media. He explained his own approach to creating interesting and engaging content. By providing impactful tips and tricks, he enables his followers to have greater success with their houseplants, hence building a positive relationship with the producer who supplied the plant. Darryl, therefore, provides a valuable connection between the producer and the consumer.

Attendees also heard from Michael Perry, better known as Mr Plant Geek. With a background as a Product Developer for Thompson Morgan before switching to his garden personality career, Michael has a unique view of the industry from both the inside and outside. He offered insight into the ever-growing list of social media platforms and how each of them are used in their unique ways. He commented that not every platform is suitable for every business, saying: “Choose the platform that is right for you, and don’t do it because you feel forced to.”


Marco van der Sar of the Flower Council Holland led the day’s final panel with a

topic focused on consumer demands. Joining him were Phil Paxton – President of Wheatland Trees Ltd; Sirekit Mol – Head Of Commercial Operations for Beekenkamp Plants BV; and Social Media Influencer Michael Perry. Perry commented: “The product we work with, flowers and plants, is something you can’t experience in the virtual world. You need to touch it and smell it.”

Paxton added: “Using social media to connect is not a conversation through another company; it’s one-on-one. It’s just a tool to build a relationship, and we shouldn’t get to a place where we’re not relationship selling. People want to show the world how they are, what they own, and what they know.”


Recordings of the World Ornamental Horticultural Summit - Influencing Change in a Digital World - are available to watch, in your own time. https://aiph.org/event/ world-ornamental-horticulture-summit-2022/

Winter 2022 / HC 25 07 / AIPH WORLDVIEW


TU Dublin lecturer and Horticultural Advisor to Stepping Stones Forest Rachel Freeman and TU Dublin BSc Horticulture student and Stepping Stones Forest volunteer Kerry Harris, highlight the need for urban forest and the work of one man who is making a difference

Stepping Stones Forests (SFF) is a grassroots movement which is endeavouring to make significant changes to the tree canopy cover of Dublin, step by step.

It began in 2019 in Tallaght, South Dublin, an area with one of the lowest rates of tree canopy cover in the greater Dublin region. The planting of trees by the local authority is improving the situation, but there is only so much it can do. Contributions and collaborations with volunteer groups ensure trees, as important urban ecosystem stalwarts, grow in numbers and in stature. In 2019, the Government acknowledged the need for collaborative approaches to reforestation to combat climate change, setting a target of 440 million trees planted by 2040; if this is to be achieved, it needs all our support to make it happen.

SSF founder John Kiberd knows this well. At heart John is an environmentalist, he credits his gradual environmental awakening to the dual existential crises that are climate change and biodiversity loss. Having lived in Tallaght for many years, this obvious lack of canopy cover and his personal environmental awakening led him to create the SSF project. In his earliest SSF discussions with family, friends, neighbours and local networks, he found kindred environmental spirits, corporate funding sources, volunteers and support. His research led him to discover the planting methods of the world-renowned botanist Akira Miyawaki.

SSF uses the Miyawaki method to develop small, urban, densely planted woodlands with 1-5 plants/sqm comprising native (Irish) species of trees and shrubs, mainly bare-rooted specimens. Typically, the forests are 100 to 200 square metres in size and are usually planted on existing areas of lawn/grassland/waste ground. There is minimal ground preparation; a layer of newspaper is covered with cardboard

26 HC / Winter 2022 EDUCATION / 08

(removing any plastics) and then heavily mulched (min 10 cm deep) to help suppress weeds, retain moisture and to maintain a more even ground temperature.

SSF are planted in two stages: the planting area is prepared in the autumn and is planted in the spring. Thus far, it has an almost 100% survival rate across all forests.

The method produces rapid growth with a single tree growing up to 90 cm in one year; a Miyawaki forest can grow into a mature ecosystem in 20 years. These methods are being applied right across the world, with examples in India, the Netherlands and the UK. The only maintenance required is to ensure a sufficient cover of woodchip, and apply a rabbit guard where necessary. After three years, the SSF is self-sustaining, requiring no further human intervention. Forests are funded through corporate funding and cost approximately €2750 each to create.


Around the world, forests cover around 30% of the global land mass and provide multiple, unique benefits to the ecosystem, primarily their ability to absorb and lock in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that are caused by human activities (Nunez, 2015-2022). Trees have always been important environmentally, particularly to urban landscapes, and never more so than in this climate crisis. Ireland is lagging on its climate targets. It has barely 11% forest cover - much of it coniferous, all of it fragmented - particularly in urban and peri urban settings. Trees play a fundamental role in reducing the pace of climate change. The ecosystem services trees provide to society – reducing wind speed – trapping particulate matter, providing shelter, offering an aesthetic quality in the urban built environment - are not only crucial in the battle against the effects of climate change, they are crucial to the health outcomes of urban populations.

Therefore, there are two reasons why there is an inherent and urgent need to restore, protect and promote trees: human health and climate. This need has gained momentum and focus, whereby tree-planting is now considered a form of sustainable development (Martin et al, 2021) and consequently has received substantial support from the UN as part of the green recovery plan (Mita et al, 2020). This has opened the doors worldwide for urban forest plantings, a facilitated shift in perspective has encouraged the use of alternative sustainable methods, such as the Miyawaki method to replenish dwindling urban forest.

This is why the SSF project is one of great significance for Ireland. It is a grassroots movement of volunteers, led by a passionate environmentalist, with horticultural advice and support from TU Dublin and financed by corporate funding. Given time SSF, has the ability to significantly impact the landscape of Dublin.

The first Stepping Stones Forest, was planted in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght in December 2021 with the support of South Dublin Co Council. Three forests were planted using the Miyawaki method, with local community volunteers planting 900 trees and shrubs. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, this was a wonderful example of local authority and community collaboration.

The SSF programme subsequently focused on schools as forest sites. Many schools in the Tallaght area have extensive grounds, not all of which are required for recreation or sport needs, offering secure sites and planting space.

The 2021–22 season ended with seven schools across Tallaght and Clondalkin successfully planted with native forests. To date, despite the challenges of sourcing native species tree stock, SSF managed to plant over 3,600 trees of 22 different native species, both coniferous and deciduous.

Winter 2022 / HC 27 08 / EDUCATION

The children are fully invested in the process involved at every stage of the ground preparation and planting process, and engaging in hands-on learning. It is John’s belief that the children will grow and develop in parallel with the young forests, creating a sense of ownership, protecting and championing trees.

In order to support the integration of the forests into teaching in each school, John secured support from AWS In Communities and with permission republished ‘Wild Things at School’ by Éanna ni lamhna. A copy is provided to each school. It helps primary school children to learn about key species of mammals, birds, amphibians, invertebrates and plants.

Additionally, signage designed to be deliberately eyecatching and attractive, also enables forest learning and may inspire more Stepping Stone Forests. It highlights forest species including trees, animals, birds etc. as is included in each school planting.

The 2022/23 season is underway with 30 planned forests at various stages of development, and more in the planning stages. The project ambition would be to see a Stepping Stone Forest in every Irish school. It has the potential to be a significant environmental and community movement which will significantly boost the stock of native Irish trees, not only in South Dublin but across Ireland.

This work is only possible with the support of participating Schools, South Dublin Co Council, TU Dublin, volunteers, supporters and particularly funders listed here www.steppingstoneforests.org.

These forests will be around for a long time so it would be a wonderful living legacy to leave behind; if you want to sponsor or volunteer to plant a forest, email John: info@ steppingstoneforests.org ✽



28 HC / Winter 2022 EDUCATION / 08
Retired banking executive John Kiberd spends most of his time these days attempting to make up for a life lived as something of an environmental thug. A gradual awakening to the dual existential crises that are climate change and biodiversity loss led him to create the Stepping Stone Forest (SSF) project. He draws his inspiration from the methods of the world-renowned botanist Akira Miyawaki and the LEAF Ireland school forests program. Kerry Harris is studying part time, and in the 3rd year of the level 7 Bachelor of Science in Horticulture at TU Dublin and volunteer with SSF. Currently in full time employment in the financial services sector. Upon completing the degree her intention is to undertake the honours degree whilst pursuing her interest and potential future career in the arboriculture sector. RACHEL FREEMAN Lecturer in Horticulture at TU Dublin and Horticultural advisor to Stepping Stones Forest Project Footnote: John Kiberd is my neighbour in Old Bawn and him on another of his organised events - the litter mugs (He organises volunteers to pick the litter in the local park Sean Walsh Park Tallaght). John and I got talking as you do at these things and one thing led to another, he shared his idea to plant urban forests and shortly after I ended up being the horticultural advisor to the stepping stone forest movement. I loved the idea and am happy to contribute to the local community. The university has an open collaborative engagement with our local communities, to share knowledge, improve outcomes for communities. Rachel Freeman
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Farm ponds are enjoying a welcome resurgence within the Irish landscape. Their benefits are many and varied, ranging from water quality improvement to biodiversity enhancement area, to the beauty of still water reflecting a winter sky. Ponds also hold rainfall within the landscape, easing the impacts of both flooding and drought conditions; providing hydrological buffering for the wider catchment and a potential source of water for livestock.

On some farms, building a pond is as simple as digging a hole in a wet corner and allowing it to fill naturally with groundwater. In other areas, a synthetic liner may be needed to hold water. Water sources include groundwater, seasonal drains or springs and runoff from a shed roof or farm road. Silted runoff can be filtered through a wetland planted buffer zone to keep your pond water cleaner.

In-channel ponds within farm drains can in themselves act as filters and silt traps, holding winter runoff from fields or farm roads and allowing eroded soil and debris to settle. This keeps soil within the farm and protects downstream waterways from pollution. Even something as seemingly benign as soil and silt can be a challenge for aquatic wildlife, clogging spawning beds and reducing the biodiversity value of stony streams.


If you want to build a farm pond on your own land or for a client, there are a number of things to bear in mind during the process. Firstly, ask what you want the pond to achieve. Is it for wildlife, as a water source for livestock, for aquaculture

to diversify farm income, for recreation or beauty? Each will lead down different boreens in the design process.

Step 1 in the design process is to select a suitable location. For wildlife, a secluded wet corner is ideal, where the minimum intervention is needed to achieve an area of open water. For irrigation, you're best to keep the pond high in the landscape, allowing gravity to bring the water to where it's needed. Where gravity falls are absent, a nose pump or solar pump help to keep cattle away from the pond edge during the establishment phase.

Next, assess your soil type and potential water sources. The less inputs you have, the better your pond seal will need to be. Thus if you have high groundwater, no liner will be needed, whereas if you have a pond that is rain-fed only, and your farm is mostly on free draining soil, then a synthetic liner will be required.

It can be helpful to draw a sketch of the proposed pond. This can help to clarify your ideas and communicate them to your digger driver and anybody else with an input into the process. For wildlife benefit, an undulating shape will help to maximise the edge length, and thus enhance this diversityrich portion of your pond. A very shallow edge slope is useful for the same reason, as well as being safer. The topography of the field will also steer the design. A natural saucer of land lends itself to creating a pond far better than a raised mound, for example. Look closely at the land and endeavour to create the maximum area of standing water with the minimum of machine time. This focuses the mind on achieving a good landscape fit.

30 HC / Winter 2022 INSIGHT / 09
If you are dipping your toe into pond design for the first time, then environmental consultant and writer Féidhlim
is at hand to offer his top tips on the design process, whether it’s for recreation, income or simply adding beauty to your environment



When digging, remember that you'll create a mess that's a lot larger than the final area of open water, so excavate an area that is a good bit bigger than your desired pond size. Start by scraping back the topsoil and spreading it somewhere useful such as over a field or as the base for a small orchard. Then dig out the subsoil. If you're building your pond on a slope, then remove all the topsoil from beneath the retaining embankment as well as the pond area itself. That way when you go to build the banks you can place good clean clayey subsoil on top of clean clayey subsoil, avoiding a conduit for water through in situ grass and plant roots.

There's no need to dig too deep. If you are creating a reservoir for irrigation then volume is going to be important, but for biodiversity ponds remember that most of the wildlife interest is in the shallowest few inches. You can combine the two design approaches if needed by keeping a shallow fringe on the outside of a deeper area.

High water table and heavy clay soils are the two most natural ways to achieve water retention in your pond. However, if your soil needs a liner, then be sure to prepare the ground well so that there are no sharp objects or undue undulations that could damage the plastic. Avoid stretching the liner when laying, or it may lead to tears or punctures. Cover with 6” or more of clean subsoil for protection, and also ensure that livestock can't enter and walk on the finished pond edge and the vulnerable liner beneath.

There are many plastic liner types that can be used, including heavy duty polyethylene (HDPE or LDPE, 0.5-1mm thick), synthetic butyl (EPDM, 1mm), or even several layers

of silage pit cover plastic. This last option is a very light liner that punctures easily but can be effective on soils that are already high in clay and where some leakage can be tolerated. Polytunnel plastic provides a middle ground between the high and low cost options, and can be further protected by geotextile membrane top and bottom. As a general rule, I avoid PVC liners due to the inherent toxicity in manufacture, recycling and disposal. Clay, bentonite and geosynthetic clay liners are more natural liner types than the plastic options listed here, but my experience with these is limited so I won't comment further on their use.

Overflow detail is important, particularly if your pond is part of a farm drain. The last thing you want is to have your retaining embankment washed away in the first downpour. Erosion can be minimised or prevented by placing a pipe through the new bank, spilling onto a stone splash desk to dissipate flow velocities. Compact well around the pipe with your heel to achieve a solid clay seal. An elbow on the upper side of the pipe can allow for adjustment of pond depth if needed. Select a pipe diameter appropriate to the throughput volumes, such that all or most of the heavier rainfall events can flow through unhindered. A wide grassed spillway can channel extreme events. On the law of averages, your embankment will have had time to consolidate and green over before this occurs, and the duration should be brief at any rate. This allows for bypass of water in the event of a pipe blockage or flood event, keeping water within the main farm drain rather than spilling out and causing flooding elsewhere.


There are a few important boxes to tick in the “things to avoid” category. Don't flood your neighbours: where falls are modest on farm drains, any dams have the potential to back up water into neighbouring land. Take care to properly assess the levels beforehand so that you keep your neighbours happy. Likewise, don't hold water in the landscape if a dambreak will cause damage to people or property downhill.

Don't create a safety hazard: avoid digging too deep or with steep edge-slopes that can become covered with a dangerous coat of green pondweeds. Don't step outside the law by working in a stream channel without permission from Inland Fisheries Ireland or changing ground levels by more than one metre without planning permission; easier to stick to shallower digs and seasonal farm drains or a stand-alone pond in a wet field.

Don't place excavated soil uphill of your pond or you will divert potential inputs of water that would otherwise replenish your pond. Don't be too neat in your edge finish: undulations and variations provide extra habitat potential for wildlife. At the same time, don't leave the perimeter so rough that you create a trip hazard for people walking around the pond. Don't drive on your pond if you've got a liner in there: it's remarkably easy to puncture a liner with heavy machinery. Don't rush to plant the pond edge: more on that later. Don't overthink it all:it’s much better to make a few mistakes in draft one and then build another each time you bring a digger onto the farm than to leave it as just a sketch forever.


I've been planting reed beds and constructed wetland systems since the early 1990s, so it's the most natural thing for me to list all the species that can provide filtration, wildlife benefit and beauty around a pond edge. However, the more I look into building ponds for wildlife, the more value I see in steering away from planting and simply letting nature take its course. Bare soil edges provide a valuable habitat in their own right; one that will green up quite quickly by natural colonisation anyway. If you adopt an attitude of curiosity you can watch as plants from the locality migrate into your pond and bring in local flavour and colour. If you want to ignore this advice and have edge plants sooner than natural colonisation will provide, then I urge you to source your plants from a local ditch, pond or stream rather than buying in non-native species or Trojan invasives along with the bought plants.


So, your pond is in and the rain or drains have filled it to the overflow point and you can hear the trickle of water flowing out into the wider catchment. You're watching for birds and insects that arrive. The odd wetland plant seedling has sprouted from wind-blown seed. What’s next in terms of management and care? If animals have access to the pond field, then be sure to fence them out so that they don't damage dams, overflow pipes or liners. Some trampling is part of a natural water's edge ecological dynamic, but it’s

best not to muck up the edges and water too much by letting cattle free roam into the pond.

Another management consideration is to watch for invasive species. Non-native invasives can cover your pond surface rapidly if they take hold. If you see signs of nonnative invasive species in the early stage of establishment, remove them as they appear and dispose of them with care to avoid spreading them further.

Note that native species such as bulrush (Typha sp.) and common reed (Phragmites australis) are also very vigorous plants that can cover pond edges and encroach into water more than a metre deep. If you want to preserve your open water pond for longer you may wish to hand weed these species as they appear. Less vigorous species such as yellow flags (Iris pseudacorus), water mint (Mentha aquatica) and others will allow a greater diversity of species to co-exist into the longer term.

Over time you may find your pond begins to silt up, particularly if built into an existing farm drain. When cleaning out silt and debris from your pond, only dredge up to onethird of the total pond area in any given year. This will allow time and space for insects and plants to survive and thrive between maintenance intervals. Similarly, in farm drains upgradient of your pond, take care to only clean drains in short bursts of 10-20m leaving a 10-20m buffer stretch of planted drain behind to continue acting as a filter. Otherwise, your pond will become silted all the more quickly as soil moves unhindered from field to drain to pond. Likewise, if you can leave a 5-10m buffer of permanent pasture, ungrazed verge or wooded edge between sloping fields and your new pond, this will help to trap silt and nutrients; lengthening the life and strengthening the vitality of your pond.


As your pond matures and evolves, take the time to enjoy watching the wildlife that visits. Enjoy the sound of the water flowing after heavy rain, the wind in the reeds, the chatter of swallows, the hum of bees. We live in a country that has a rich abundance of wetland habitats, from estuaries to rivers to lakes. Your pond will provide a stepping stone between watery habitats in the wider landscape as well as a habitat in its own right. The wild life in the countryside has been under too much pressure for too long. Enjoy watching as the tides change, the richness remerges and our farms flourish with a renewed abundance of nature alongside the crops we nurture and grow. ✽

FÉIDHLIM HARTY is an environmental consultant, teacher, and writer. His most recent book is Towards Zero Waste – How to Live a Circular Life, published by Permanent Publications. www. wetlandsystems.ie

32 HC / Winter 2022 INSIGHT / 09
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