2018 – A Record Breaking Heritage Week at the National Botanic Gardens

We had a great turn out for our nine Heritage Week events this year with a varied range of events focusing around the  ‘Sharing Stories’ theme, including The Totally Terrific Tomato Festival, a record breaking Bug Hotel making workshop, a Mandala Art Installation and a specially created tour relating philosophy to the gardens.

The Totally Terrific Tomato Festival display set a new World Record with 256 tomato cultivars on display in one space. Over half of the tomatoes were brought to us by growers from around Ireland. We were absolutely thrilled and hugely impressed with the range and quality. For a full list of tomatoes on display and the growers please see our previous blog post. The Tomato Festival was launched on Saturday 18th August with two Tomato Tales lectures. Matthew Jebb, Director of the Gardens, spoke about the origins, botany, folklore and diversity of the remarkable fruit. Nicky Kyle, organic gardener, told us how to grow, cook and eat tomatoes. We also hosted an interactive cooking and eating tomato workshop for very young children.

Another record breaking activity took place on Tuesday 21st August when over 200 Bug Hotels were built in just two hours in our Build your own Bug Hotel  children’s drop-by activity on Tuesday 21st August. Not only did the creative participants build some nifty homes for creepy crawlies but they discovered how important these little creatures are in our gardens. We reused old cartons and containers and made the dwellings homely with natural materials found in the Gardens. These hotels provide accommodation for insects such as ladybirds, lacewings and beetles who are friends to gardeners.

On Saturday 18th August, lots of visitors of all ages participated in creating a wonderful Mandala. Natural materials, that had been collected previously in the gardens, were used in this communal meditative activity which was a wonderful eco-friendly and fun way for families and visitors of all ages to engage with nature and share their stories as they worked on the installation.

On the same day we hosted the launch of The Potato was not the Problem, a new book by art historian Dymphna Headen exploring the link between the building of the work houses around Ireland and the devastating affects of the potato famine on the people of Ireland.

We wrapped up our Heritage Week programme with a themed guided tour, Philosophy in the Gardens on Saturday 25th August. This was a first come, first served event and despite the traffic restrictions, due to the Pope’s visit, we were delighted when over 40 people turned up for the tour. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to run this tour again.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Heritage Week.