The Robinson Garden at Earlscliffe, Baily, Co. Dublin, Ireland

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The 2015 David Robinson Memorial Lecture

Creating a Successful Horticulture Community Online

The 2015 David Robinson Memorial Lecture was given by Nicola Gammon from Shoot Limited about how Shoot ( has created a successful horticulture community online. It was held at University College Dublin on the 22nd of October 2015. Copies of the slides can be found here.

The 2014 David Robinson Memorial Lecture

One hour – five gardens

The 2014 David Robinson Memorial Lecture was delivered by James Alexander-Sinclair, one of the UK’s renowned garden designers and broadcasters. During his presentation, James described in entertaining and engaging detail the joys and trials of designing gardens for different sites. the talk was given at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown. More details here.

Managing Heritage Gardens

11th October 2013

The 2013 David Robinson Memorial Lecture was given by Alan Power, who is the Garden and Estate Manager at National Trust, Stourhead. The lecture focussed on the challenges of maintaining a large heritage garden and was given to a packed hall in the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne.

Sustainability, urban greenspace design and management

22nd October 2009

The 2009 David Robinson Memorial Lecture was given by Dr James Hitchmough at Kildalton College Piltdown, Co. Kilkenny. He discussed practical approaches to sustainability (which he used the common definition of "not compromising the needs of the future for the needs of the present") in urban greenspace. He argued that this was not simply about "taking things away and being miserable" but that there were practical actions that can be taken. His three main strategies were to reduce areas of frequently mown grass, adopt new approaches to the management of rainfall and to generate energy and other products from greenspace.

Furcraea longaeva¹ starts to flower at Earlscliffe

April/May 2009

The Furcraea longaeva is a succulent related to Agave and is known in its native Mexico for having a very tall flowering inflorescence – upwards of 12 metres (40 feet)!

We have a number of Furcraea at Earlscliffe. The tallest (and oldest) is about two metres high and has been planted at Earlscliffe for about fifteen years. 

In April 2009 it started to flower.

It has flowered in many places outside of its native country. A web search shows that it flowered at RHS Wisley, Surrey, England in 2004, and in North Devon, SW England in 2006 and at the Abbey Gardens on Tresco, Isles of Scilly¹  However, we are uncertain it has flowered so far north (53.3º) before!

Over the coming weeks we will photograph it regularly to show how tall the flowering spike grows. Of course, it won't reach 12 metres! However, at its fastest it was growing at a rate of over 12cm (over 4.5 inches) per day!

It now stands at around 6.36 metres tall (nearly 21 feet) and the growth has slowed down to only 1.43cm (just over half an inch) daily.

For more details see the photos and growing records here.


¹. The Furcraea was planted around 1994 by David Robinson who identified it as F. longaeva. However, there has been a lot of debate about whether the plants sold as F. longaeva are in fact F. parmentieri (see the RHS Advisory Panel on Nomenclature & Taxonomy – 21 January 2008).



The heritage of Irish landscapes, biodiversity and modern landscape design

23rd October 2008

The 2008 David Robinson Memorial Lecture was given by Professor Valerie Hall. Due to the numbers of people wishing to hear the lecture, it was given twice to packed halls at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Professor Hall gave her views on what are the native species of trees in Ireland and how difficult that is to ascertain.  She said that the lecture topic came about from questions she often received from people wanting to plant native trees in Ireland. In the talk she explained that our indigenous trees originally came from many sources and were often influenced by geographical, meteorological and sociological factors (not too dissimilar from our people).



Wilde and Mahaffy in Greece

24th April 2008

Paddy Sammon gave a lecture on Oscar Wilde and John Pentland Mahaffy (a former resident of Earlscliffe) and their visit and links with Greece to the Rathmines, Rathgar and Ranelagh Historical Society at the Rathmines Town Hall.

You can read about this subject in a summary of a paper he read to the Third Conference of the European Association for Modern Greek Studies in Bucharest in 2006:

A shorter version has been published in Dublin in May 2008  as part of a book entitled "The Lure of Greece" ed. JV Luce



Greening the Urban Jungle, Plants, Soils, Buildings and Climate Change

23rd October 2007

The third of the David Robinson Memorial Lectures was given by Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs and took place at the Astra Hall University College Dublin. The event was organised by Bord Bia and the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.



"The Gardens at Earlscliffe, Howth"

25th April 2007

Karen Foley delivered an illustrated talk for the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland on the Gardens at Earlscliffe. The talk covered the history of the house and gardens, a study of why some plants grow well here when they don't so so well in neighbouring gardens, and a pictorial walk through some of the tender plants that thrive in the Robinson garden at Earlscliffe.

The lecture was delivered to a pack hall at Wesley House, Leeson Park, Dublin. 



Horticulture on Mars!

5th October 2006

Plant physiologist, Dr Wheeler delivered the second annual Bord Bia-sponsored David Robinson Memorial Lecture at the Kildalton Agricultural and Horticultural College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny. Ray Wheeler is a senior scientist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and currently serves as the lead for plant and crop research for NASA's Advanced Life Support Program. 

In this 2006 memorial lecture Dr Wheeler talked about food-producing plants that will become a regular feature of long-distance space travel. He discussed Nasa's research into ways to produce fresh vegetables and fruits in space to supplement space travellers' diets. He also explained the current studies into how to grow potatoes, wheat, carrots and other vegetables once space travellers set up bases on the moon and Mars.



Wollemi Pine comes to Ireland

10th September 2005

An Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern T.D. today accepted the first Wollemi Pine in Ireland from the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Dr. John Herron at a planting ceremony at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin. The ceremony was hosted by Dr Peter Wyse Jackson, Director of the National Botanic Gardens.

The Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) is one of the world's oldest and rarest trees. It was discovered in 1994 200km west of Sydney in a rainforest gorge within the 500,000 hectare Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains. The pine belongs to the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family and there are less than 100 of the mature trees left in the wild. 

It is hoped that the survival of the plant can be secured by the selling and growing of the plant worldwide. Earlscliffe Gardens have registered an interest in adding a Wollemi Pine to the collection of rare plants at Earlscliffe.

Wollemi Pine before official planting

Wollemi Pine before official planting

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Dr. John Herron view the plant with Dr Peter Wyse Jackson

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Dr. John Herron view the plant with Dr Peter Wyse Jackson

The Wollemi pine is planted by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

The Wollemi pine is planted by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

The original plant tag that came with the pine

The original plant tag that came with the pine

For more information see 

See also the article written by David Robinson for the Irish Garden in 1998, "The Wollemi Pine - one of the great survivors"

"The discovery of the Wollemi Pine is the equivalent of finding a small dinosaur still alive on earth. - Professor Carrick Chambers, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney 1994"



Top Ten Plants that have influenced Humankind

21st September 2005

Sue Minter gave an excellent talk on her views on the top ten plants that have influenced the way we live to day (in terms of economic and medicinal value). The list included the tulip (because of the influence on the creation of the 'futures' market in the 17th Century), tea (because of its trade influences and medicinal properties), cannabis (for its hemp, not its narcotic qualities), and cotton (again for its trade influences and clothing). The rest of the list included rubber, rice, quinine, tobacco, yam (the original source of the contraceptive pill), and the opium poppy.

This talk was the first of the David Robinson Memorial Lectures and took place at the Salesian College of Horticulture, Warrenstown, Ireland. Bord Bia are proud sponsors of the David Robinson Memorial Lecture. This prestigious annual event is designed to not only remember the contributions of the late David Robinson, but provides an opportunity for young horticultural students from colleges north and south to come together to learn more about the important contributions horticulture makes to our health, environment and economy.


This page was last updated on 14-Oct-2016 .

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