Video Clips

2017 Speakers Programme

  The 2017 Galway Garden Festival will take place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July, at Claregalway Castle. This will be the 8th year of an unique and charming garden event  which has developed a national profile. It  will showcase a wonderful gathering of the very best of rare and special plant traders from all over Ireland,  present a programme of expert talks, a fine artisan food and crafts arena including the best of ‘Made in Galway’, as well as a host of musical entertainment and open-air performance. 


12:30 Alan Whetman 'Getting the best from your roses'
13:30 Anne Byrne ‘Garden Design on the Edge’
14:00 Dr. Phil Havercroft  ‘Garden Perennials – a celebration the less well known’
14:45 Dr. Marina Levitina  Ireland's native wild plants and their medicinal and other beneficial qualities
15:30 Jimi Blake  Talk on his famous garden- ‘Hunting Brook through the Seasons’
13:00 Mies Stam & Molly Aylesbury  ‘Getting to know our wildflowers’
14:00 Oliver Schurmann Mount Venus Nursery ‘From Show Gardens to Real Gardens’  
15:15 Pat Dunn ‘Garden Planning – helpful hints and chemical free’
16:00 Jane Stark ‘Heritage Irish Plants – Plandai Oidhreachta’;  


Dr Marina Levitina

'Seven Wonders of the Hedgerow'

   Marina Levitina, PhD, MA, AM, BA summa cum laude, holds a doctorate from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters from Harvard University, she lectures at Trinity and is a published author. She is also a film-maker and has produced several television documentaries, including the award-winning Fís na Fuiseoige / The Lark's View, a documentary about the deep connection between the Irish people and the land, and John O'Donohue: Anam Cara.

   Marina loves plants and is passionate about protecting Ireland's biodiversity and educating grown-ups and children about wild medicinal plants. She is a Reiki master, and has completed a three-year apprenticeship in sacred plant medicine with Carole Guyett, medical herbalist and medicine woman.  She offers workshops for children and adults about Ireland's native wild plants and trees.

  Her website is ar
   "Seven Wonders of the Hedgerow" focuses on some of our amazing hidden gems of common plants, such as Dogrose, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Nettle, and others. In this talk, Marina will introduce these plants and their medicinal and other beneficial qualities.

Alan Whetham

'Getting the best from your roses'

   Alan Whetham's background immediately prior to opening Just Roses was as a Garden Centre proprietor for 22 years.  In 2011 he took a decision to close the Garden Centre (Granagh Nurseries Co. Limerick) having failed to sell it as a going concern for some prior years.   During the years at Granagh Nurseries Alan recognised the need to specialise, and as a rose lover decided to try to establish myself as a reliable rose supplier....with some considerable success.

   Alan held an annual "Rose Day" each June with great support so it seemed a natural road to take to continue with his love of and interest in roses when he had left the garden centre behind for a new venture, hence the launch of Ireland's only specialist dedicated rose centre transpired when Just Roses opened in the spring of 2012 at Woodview Kilfinane Co. Limerick. 

As Just Roses we have enjoyed 5 years of progress with our beautiful roses and have successfully established ourselves as a (the) specialist rose centre providing the rose enthusiast and general garden lovers with a vast range of top quality Irish grown roses numbering some 3000 roses and over 200 varieties.  All this achievement would not have been possible without the support and enthusiasm of Alan's lovely wife Josie who despite the fact that she says that the care of our roses are more time consuming than rearing babies (she reared 5 of them) has been a great motivator. 
So onward and upward we only have today, yesterday is history, tomorrow is the unknown........  always take time to smell the roses.



Oliver Schurmann

Liat and Oliver Schurmann run Mount Venus Nursery in Dublin cultivating over 1600 different species and varieties of perennials. Their official website is .

Mies Stam.

   Mies brief history: "I'm a botanist and horticulturist. I'm giving guided tours about wildflowers around Dublin in my spare time. I was born in Holland but feel more Irish, as I've lived here most of my life."

   With the horticulture business going back 3 generations and spanning two countries, it is no surprise Mies went on to be a horticulturist and botanist. Growing up working on her parents nursery she developed a passion for plants- cultivated and wild. Molly has always wanted to save the trees, and with them the world. While studying environmental biology in UCD, she met Mies and Wildflower Walks Ireland was born. Molly then ran off to Sweden to study Sustainable Development leaving Mies with all the work! Back together now they have been teaching people to love the weeds in their backyard in Dublin and around the country.

   Our native plants play a huge role in our history. They're deeply rooted in our myths, our games, our traditional medicine and at one time they were enshrined in law. Nowadays there is growing concern about biodiversity and the impact of losing our native species. But would you recognise them anymore? This lecture will show you how to identify four main families of wildflowers in Ireland, their characteristics, history, with examples to illustrate why you should put down the weeder to save the bees and maybe have some edible treats.

   Mies will co-present with her business partner Molly Aylesbury. They have a facebook page at


Jane Stark

''Heritage Irish Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta''
   – an illustrated taJane Starklk featuring some of Ireland's beautiful garden plants, given by Jane Stark, award-winning botanical artist and current Chairperson of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists (ISBA), as well as curator of the Claregalway Castle Botanical Art Expo.

   The ISBA and the Irish Garden Plan Society recently participated in a joint project featuring some of the more recent Irish garden cultivars. Botanical artists painted over 60 plant portraits and some of Ireland's top plantsmen wrote the accompanying text for the book that was launched by the two societies in November 2016, at the opening of an exhibition of the paintings at the National Botanic Gardens. Jane's presentation will feature images of many of the paintings and some background information about the plants and the project. Copies of 'Heritage Irish Plants – Plandaí Oidhreachta' will be on sale at the talk and in the Botanical Art Expo gallery.

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For details on Past Festival Speakers  click here.