An Annual General Meeting of the Irish Garden Plant Society was held at Kennedy Park many years ago. Such meetings, at the time, were inclined to be efficiently dispatched and the members moved speedily along to enjoy a weekend of good company, garden visits, the AGM dinner, drinks, chat and good fun; all in all, a very pleasant weekend.
As we left the meeting, I jovially commented that it was good that that was over and that we were now getting on to the important part of the weekend. A man turned to me, a man I had not met previously, a man I didn’t know, and he commented – in what struck me at the time as a somewhat snooty tone – “The IGPS is more than a common garden club and, while garden visits are enjoyable, they are not at the centre of what the society is about.”
There was no further discussion on the topic but the moment has remained with me and John Ducie’s words – for I later found out his name – have rung in my mind over all those years and are, perhaps, immediately relevant and worth remembering and considering as the society holds its Annual General Meeting tomorrow in Clonmel.
Irish plants, plants of Irish origin or Irish connection, have always been central to the aims of the IGPS. The society aims to record them (Dr. E. Charles Nelson’s book, “A Heritage of Beauty” is the outstanding volume of record); conserve them; distribute them through its regular plant sales and spread information about them through its newsletter and online. This particular interest is what makes the society special, different, important. Without it, the society loses its identity.
The IGPS is not – or should not be – just another gardening club. John Ducie was right and his words should be shouted aloud at the society’s AGM tomorrow.