5 Exciting plants I found at an Irish Garden Centre

July 4, 2023

Have you ever perused the online stores of garden centres far outside of your own regional boundaries?  It is fun to see what exciting plants you might grow if you lived in another place (I soooo want to grow the handkerchief tree!). I also find it really interesting as I think garden knowledge can be quite localized, and trends, styles, products, and ways of doing things can range widely in different regions, even if their growing climates are similar.  

I grew up in Denver, the daughter of a fierce gardener, and so I was pretty in tune with the seasons, cold winters, and the drastic change gardens go through every year. So, you’d think New England (where I live now) would not seem so different (more humid, yes, but otherwise similar) – but there are weird nuances here.

Take, for example, the New England fascination (trend, obsession?) with mums in the fall.  From an outsider’s POV – it is a lot. OK, sure, they are beautiful, but no place else has such a monomania for mums in the fall like New England. 

Why?  No idea.

But back to my point, I am always curious about what interesting plants I will discover about a place by visiting their garden centers.  

Like this morning Patrick Fitzgerald tweeted about some products at the Johnstown Garden Centre in Ireland and I followed along for a peruse.  Happily, I discovered some fun things. 

5 Exciting Plants From an Irish Garden Center

Meconopsis sheldonii

meconopsis sheldonii via

Johnstown also has a special area on its website that features rare ‘plant hunter’ plants.  I have seen the Blue Poppy (Meconopsis sheldonii) many times before. When I lived in the UK, there seemed to be somewhat of an obsession with the plant. Oddly, that obsession has only recently translated to the US. 

Maybe it is like most fashion that I noticed living in two countries – things that were hot in London would generally not become a trend in the US until much later (sometimes years).  

Maybe that means the blue poppy will take off soon?

Here are a few other interesting plants that caught my eye.

Davidia involucrata (The Handkerchief Tree)

Davida involucrata handkerchief tree
Davida involucrata (handkerchief tree or dove tree) at Emmetts Gardens, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, Kent by Jill Catley

The handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata) is so beautiful. I can’t think of a garden where this wispy dreamy tree wouldn’t be an interesting substitute for a more regular Dogwood.

Wollemi Pine

The Wollemi Pine has been found in fossil remains dating from the Jurassic period. It is a true Jurassic plant! Forget deer, can you imagine — these trees survived dinosaur munching!

The Wollemi pine tree was recently discovered in Australia and is now available worldwide in an effort to save this rare specimen (only 100 trees exist in the wild). Its shape and leaves are beautiful, and I think it has proved its hardiness. Don’t you?

wollemi pine
Wollemi Pine by Scott Davies.

Evergreen Winter Blooming Clematis + Double Echinaceas

evergreen clematis 'snow bells'
Clematis ‘Snow bells’ or ‘Winter beauty’ by peganum.
double echinacea
Echinacea ‘Double scoop bubble gum’ at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

I am also loving two twists on old favorites.  The double-decker Echinacea is much more eye-catching (a little like Bee Balm) than the original, and this evergreen Clematis also blooms in the winter!

I hope you enjoyed this little visit to an Irish garden center – do you know of any other great garden centers worth cruising on the internet? Do share!

You might also be interested in this Irish Garden inspiration:

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