Hillsborough hears all about the nursery trade

At the Hillsborough Horticultural Society meeting are club member Ann Mackie, Chairman Derek Alexander and speaker Terence Reeves-Smyth.
At the Hillsborough Horticultural Society meeting are club member Ann Mackie, Chairman Derek Alexander and speaker Terence Reeves-Smyth.

Hillsborough Horticultural Society recently enjoyed an interesting talk about the history of the nursery trade in Ireland.

On Wednesday 25th November, the speaker was Terence Reeves-Smyth from the Historic Environment Division of DOE.

Terence is currently Chairman of the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Trust and has written numerous articles and books on archaeology, architecture and gardens.

Terence traced the main developments in the nursery and seeds trade from the 1600s in Ireland right up to the present time.

A lot of the activity in the early days was centred around Dublin but as time went on, the area which is now Northern Ireland began to develop along similar lines, centred in the Belfast area.

The production of fruit trees was the mainstay in the beginning but activity soon spread to include the wider nursery trade.

Landscape design progressed in the 1700s and this provided a great impetus to the development of the nurseries.

Seeds and flower roots were in great demand. Around 1800, the nurserymen began producing catalogues in competition with each other.

The supply of young trees and plants expanded in response to the development of roads, railways and canals which allowed easier transport.

Terence traced the various developments right up to the present.

He referred to the nurserymen in Northern Ireland who had made a very significant contribution in the 1900s, such as the Dicksons and the McGredys.

Although not now in business, the Slieve Donard Nurseries in Newcastle, the Daisy Hill Nurseries in Newry and Guy Wilson from Broughshane all had a great input to the expansion of the nursery trade in Northern Ireland and further afield.

The next meeting of the Society will be at 8pm on Wednesday 27 January when well-known broadcaster and Head Gardener Neil Porteous will speak on ‘Mount Stewart – the Next Phase’. Everyone welcome.