It takes centre stage in a brand new RTÉ series next week called Home Grown, which celebrates the Irish horticulture industry, and is presented by two of the sector’s dedicated advocates, Kitty Scully and Colm O’Driscoll.
In the first episode on RTÉ1 on Monday at 8pm, Colm visits the Croke Park farm in Dublin, while Kitty meets cut foliage producer James Costelloe of Irish Green Guys, based in Tralee, whose branches and leaves are used by top florists in the UK and other parts of Europe.
Also in the opening episode, Colm meets specialised fourth generation carrot producer Emmett Dunne in Durrow, Co Laois, who grows both conventional and organic crops. The programme ends with Kitty visiting the stunning Kilmacurragh Gardens in Co Wicklow, renowned for its amazing rhododendrons.
In the seven-part series, Kitty and Colm travel all over Ireland in search of stories that celebrate Irish horticulture and growing in all its variety.
As well as stories about the different growers and producers, there are visits to inspirational gardens that are open to the public, recognising the fact that, partly as a result of Covid, there has been a surge of interest in gardening. Horticulture is the science and technology of plant cultivation, and the industry in Ireland encompasses both food production and the production of ornamental plants and trees.
It is an important sector too, with an estimated 6,600 people employed full time in primary production activity, and a further 11,000 in value added and downstream businesses such as wholesale, retail, distribution, landscape and garden design; and construction as well as local authority and county councils and parks and landscaping services.
Kitty says: “A career in horticulture is not for the faint-hearted, it embodies so many challenges.
Colm adds: “It was fascinating to hear stories on the ground, and refreshing to meet so many resilient, hard-working, charismatic characters; dedicated to keeping this often overlooked industry alive and embracing old and new innovative technologies in the process.
“What excited me most about recording Home Grown was the opportunity to get behind-the-scenes access to many of the leading enterprises in Irish Horticulture. The vast range of those we visited is a testament to the vibrancy and diversity of the industry here in Ireland.”