2018 Speakers Programme

  The 2018 Galway Garden Festival will take place on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July, at Claregalway Castle. This will be the 9th 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 'My love affair with roses'
14:00 Thomas Packenham ‘The Company of Trees’
15:00 Kitty Scully  ‘Greening up the Grey – gardens in the workplace’
16:00 Klaus Laitenberger 'Exploring the Foods and Plants of the Incas’
12:30 Dr Phil Havercroft ‘Garden Perennials-old and new- for late Summer colour’
13:30 Helen Dillon ‘Starting Over’
14:30 Klaus Laitenberger ‘Exploring the Foods and Plants of the Incas’
15:30 Dr Marina Levitina ‘Wild Plants of Lough Corrib’


Alan Whetham

   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.

Thomas Pakenham:

Thomas Pakenham is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford University. He is an Irish historian and arborist and has written several prize-winning books on diverse subjects of Victorian and Post-Victorian British history, on Irish history, on African history and on Trees.

He is author of the acclaimed book 'The Scramble for Africa' and also of 'The Mountains of Rasselas: Ethiopian Adventure', The Year of Liberty: The History of the Great Irish Rebellion of 1798, 'The Boer War', 'Meetings With Remarkable Trees', 'Remarkable Trees of the World' and of 'The Remarkable Baobab'.

He is Chairman of The Irish Tree Society.


Kitty ScullyKitty Scully

    Growing up on an organic mixed farm in Co Laois, Kitty Scully became interested and passionate about home grown food at an early age. After years working on organic small holdings around the world, Kitty returned to Ireland and completed a Diploma in Organic Horticulture & Sustainable Living and recently achieved first class honours in an MSc in Organic Horticulture amidst a busy gardening, writing and teaching career.

    Best known for her RTE 1 series’ How to Create a Garden’, Kitty also writes a weekly vegetable gardening and foraging column for the Irish Examiner. In 2009, gaelic speaking Kitty contributed to TG4’s gardening programme, An Garraí Glas and in 2010 she visited community gardens around Ireland, co presenting RTÉ’s Corrigan Cooks Naturally. Kitty is now the Food Grower at Airfield House in Dundrum, a fabulously newly designed productive yet pretty space in Airfield where Kitty and the team share their passion and commitment to the production and consumption of local, seasonal home grown food.

Klaus Laitenberger

Klaus Laitenberger

Klaus Laitenberger is the author of 'Vegetables for the Irish Garden' and 'Vegetables for the polytunnel and Green house'.

He managed a four acre organic garden in England before he moved to Ireland in 1999

He was Head Gardener for seven years at The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim following which he started the garden restoration of Lisadell House, Co. Sligo.

He is a mentor and consultant in organic horticulture and lectures widely on horticulture. His website is well recommended, as is the new app. "A Vegetable Grower's Gardening App" which you can download from www.greenvegetableseeds.com/app/



Dr Phil Havercroft

  Dr Phil Havercroft hails from the well-renowned Leamore Nursery in Ashford, Co. Wicklow - the Garden County. Phil is one of Ireland’s best growers, and peony roses are one of his specialities, along with beautiful varieties of allium.

   Dr Havercroft is also secretary of the Irish Specialist Nursery Association.

Helen Dillon

  Helen Dillon is considered one of the most perceptive gardeners of our time. She has lived in Ireland for the past thirty eight years and her garden in Sandford Road, Dublin, www.dillongarden.com has featured in magazines worldwide.A respected author, journalist, broadcaster and garden consultant, Helen has travelled to Nepal, Patagonia, New Zealand, Africa and China on plant expeditions.

   In 1999, Helen was awarded the Gold Veitch Memorial Medal of the the Royal Horticultural Society in England and in 2003, the George Robert White Medal of Honour of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. In 2004, she was made a Distinguished Counsellor to the Board of the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr Marina Levitina

   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 www.wildplantscansing.ie

For details on Past Festival Speakers  click here.




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