Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Gardening again becoming a necessary life skill?

The co-incidence.
In this blog post I am re-posting a piece I first posted on back in May 2009. A few weeks after I first posted this the article was hacked and my website brought down by a virus planted on the site by hackers. My site hosting and maintenance guys said the attacks were targeted at this article possibly due to the mention of the White House. They fixed my website as luckily we got the attack early. Sometimes its very hard to get away from the feeling some things are predestined. As you will see on my last blog piece this week our primroses landed in the very place I was highlighting in the article below.
Due to this amazing coincidence and the fact that the White House Garden project or the trend towards people growing their own vegetables wasn't just a passing fad I decided to re post this piece. I would also like your opinion on the questions posed at the end.
Is Gardening becoming a necessary life skill?
Original post.
This is probably not so hard to believe from some of us who have been around the block before. One of the silver linings for us as Horticulturists in somewhat depressing times like these is that people have more time to spend reassessing their interests, what is important and un-important. So far it looks like the signs so far are telling us that nature, growing your own and generally appreciating the garden, parks and the free or not so expensive things in life are coming out as important.

In the USA there has been a very encouraging and dedicated lobby since last November to have a vegetable garden planted in the grounds of the White House and from the picture here you can see this has been successful and has begun. Congratulations are due to the idea instigator to the people who worked on and supported this project and for achieving such success. Have a look at the official White House Farmer website WWW.WHITEHOUSEFARMER.COM .

With the eyes of the world on the new American first family this image on the White House farmer website has to be one of the most interesting garden images this month and many of us in the Horticulture world could not have imagined such an image emanating from such a prestigious and austere location until now.

A number of months ago I came across a saying from a contemporary American writer called Orson Scott Card which goes 'Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden'.

We have to hope that mass unemployment is not what it will take to get many of us to plant a garden. It's an unfortunate and interesting fact that sometimes it takes shocks of great magnitude to make some of us realize what's important and what's not. We can only hope now that when the world economy does eventually recover some lessons will have been learned and children will remember the folly of some of their elders in neglecting a few basic life skills and considerations that are the essence of our existence. Whether it be for food or for pleasure plant life is beneficial to mankind even the humblest apparently undesirable weed gives benefit to the planet and our immediate environment. For those of us who depend on gardening for a living let's hope that the many skills in the industry the great plants, fruit and vegetables that are produced by our sector will be valued and appreciated much more, by a greater amount of people and a new kind of consumer and gardener.

Lets hope our time in the sun has come.
Now almost two years on what do you think? Have we seen a change of mindset towards people in our profession or trade? Will the young people all over the world who have been exposed to the many projects like the White House Garden be better off for this new trend? Is it too early to say it has changed anything in the longer 25 year perspective when these children will be adults with children of their own?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The gifting of a Kennedy Irish Primrose

It isnt often one of our plants gets such a wonderful first outing that they are given as a gift from our country to the first Lady of the United States of America. So I felt I must share this news with everyone.

I am honoured to announce that on 17th of March, St Patricks Day, a special basket of our new Kennedy Irish Primrose variety Drumcliff was chosen as a gift to Mrs Obama. The Primrose basket was given to Mrs Obama during the recent visit of An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny T.D and his wife Mrs Fionnuala Kenny to the White House, Washington D.C. This is the first time these Primroses have been seen in full flower in the USA and we at FitzGerald Nurseries are delighted that they were chosen for such an auspicious occasion. The Primroses were propagated in County Wexford, Ireland and grown to flowering size in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Plants were inspected and certified in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture import regulations and shipped to special facilities of Herronswood Nurseries in Pennsylvania USA where plants were acclimatized and prepared for the final presentation.

The Kennedy Irish Primroses were launched this January coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of John F Kennedy as President of United States of America. Primula Drumcliffe is named after the final resting place of the famous Irish poet W.B Yeats. The second variety released in 2011 is named Innisfree after the poem Lake Isle of Innisfree. Further varieties will be released over the coming years.

Pat FitzGerald.

Plants are now currently available to the public in Ireland from most good Garden Centres and in USA by mail order .

You can find more information on the Kennedy Irish Primroses by clicking here.

- FitzGerald Nurseries was founded in 1990. Ever since a child Pat has been involved in the growing of vegetable and garden plants. From the age of 17 Pat started studying Horticulture then proceeded after leaving college to work in the gardening industry. - Pat FitzGerald selects, breeds and cultivates new plant varieties and in his own right is responsible for many new garden plant varieties now available to gardeners worldwide. - Joseph Kennedy breeder of the Kennedy Irish Primroses has been breeding old Irish Primroses from old Irish cultivars dating back to the 1800’s. After retiring early from dentistry almost 30 years ago Joe took up his breeding passion full time but never released any of his work to the public until now. - About the same time as Pat was leaving his formal Horticulture studies Joe began his serious collecting of the old Irish Primrose varieties. Twenty five years later their paths crossed, they combined their mutual talents and the Kennedy Irish Primrose range was born. After five more years of selecting and propagation in Ireland the first two varieties of these plants are now available to the public. Much more to come so watch this space.

In USA you can check availability of Kennedy Irish Primroses at the following.

For mail order

Friday, March 4, 2011

FitzGerald Nurseries wins Innovation Award

Irish Times InterTradeIreland All-island Innovation Awards.

Leaders in their field, FitzGerald Nurseries Ltd have been nominated for their system, which have been designed to develop plants, marketing, micro-propagation production systems and routes to international markets for their plant ranges developed.

Mr Pat FitzGerald from FitzGerald Nurseries Ltd said: We were delighted to be even shortlisted originally but to win this award in the prescence of such fantastic high tech companies is indeed an honour. It is especially wonderful to be recognized and awarded for innovation. We work hard to be the best at what we do and to come up with new products for the our customers and the international marketplace.” In the field of Horticulture this is not an easy task where mainstream industrial support and thinking is not always supported in the same manner as in other industries. FitzGerald Nurseries Ltd can be proud of this achievement and look forward to developing increased exports and business development over the coming years.
“Our products have proven to be of world class standards and we have proven this through market entry success in 18 countries worldwide. You can see these products in more detail on and and judge for yourself.”
Now in its second year, the Irish Times InterTradeIreland All-island Innovation Awards aim to recognise and promote the best service, product or operational innovations throughout the island. Over 120 companies entered the seven categories of the competition. Twenty one of these were then shortlisted for the awards by a judging panel, before the final winners were selected.

Commenting on the awards, Liam Nellis, Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland and Chair of the Innovation awards final judging panel said “Despite the economic situation, we have been extremely encouraged by the level and diversity of innovations represented by our finalists and winners. Not only do they have strong ideas and innovative processes, crucially, they are market-led and market-focused. I’m delighted that these awards have managed to achieve exactly what they set out to do, which is to showcase the best examples of innovation on the island.”

The final judging panel for the event included Colm Long, Facebook, Liam Nellis InterTradeIreland, Peter Callan, The Irish Times Group, Michael Carey, Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, Tim Cody, Accenture, Ivan Coulter, Sigmoid Pharma and Deirde Terrins, Crescent Capital.
Liam Kavanagh, Managing Director of the Irish Times added, “We sometimes get caught up in the finer points of policies and strategies at a national level without appreciating the people who are putting all the fine words into practice. That’s what this event tonight – and indeed our monthly Innovation magazine – is all about.

- FitzGerald Nurseries was founded in 1990. The company set up Gadera Ltd its micro-propagation production facility in Enniscorthy Co Wexford in 2005. FitzGerald Nurseries employs 20 people and its sister company Gadera Ltd 15 people.
- Pat FitzGerald selects and breeds new plant varieties and is responsible for many new patent and breeders rights protected varieties worldwide. The company also offeres separate services to breeders around the world.
- For further information about the awards please visit