Visitors to Ireland are often surprised at the 'palm trees' that make so many gardens look as if they belong in a holiday postcard. How can such exotics survive on an island that is as far north as the prairies of Canada and the pine forests of Siberia? The answer lies in the tail of the Gulf Stream - the North Atlantic Drift - which wraps around this green land on the western edge of Europe. Its warm and watery embrace bestows the renowned 'soft' climate that allows those palm trees (in fact, New Zealand cordylines) to make their homes here - along with tree ferns from Australia and bananas from Japan. Plants from colder regions, including rhododendrons, primulas and all manner of alpines, are equally happy. So, with a range of plants that runs from the subtropical to the subarctic, and a landscape that varies from gently pastoral to savagely rugged, the aptly named Emerald Isle has some of the most romantic and interesting gardens in the world. The Irish Garden visits over forty of Ireland's most beautiful gardens, ranging from the grand old demesnes of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy to the intensely personal creations of passionate plantsmen and garden makers.The result of a lifetime visiting, considering and writing about gardens in Ireland, and several years of dedicated photography, this is a truly comprehensive exploration of a fascinating subject.
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