Kilkenny must see the light and plant 'exceptional trees', says Shirley Lanigan

Author and gardening expert addresses KKB awards night and wants to see trees 'with personality'

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



FILE PIC: The trees lining the Parade in Kilkenny City

Gardening expert and author Shirley Lanigan again implored Kilkenny to do more to plant ‘exceptional’ trees and nuturethe city’s unique botanical heritage last week.

Ms Lanigan was the guest speaker at Tuesday night’s Keep Kilkenny Beautiful (KKB) awards in Langton’s. In her opening marks, she congratulated award winners and said the efforts of those present made KKB’s job a little bit easier.

While not wanting to single out any one garden in particular, she had high praise for that of Pat and Michael Shortall.

“It gives me such pleasure, always pristine, always perfect,” she said.

“January to December, there’s always growth and always colour — they must be out in it all the time.”

Having last year appealed to those in attendance and the Powers That Be ‘to start thinking big, start thinking long term’, and become not just the Marble City, but also the ‘Leafy City’, Ms Lanigan returned to a similar theme in this year's address.

She said that floral displays and hanging baskets were ‘lovely, but long term, the thing we do for our community, apart from our built landscape, is our trees’.

Ms Lanigan said there was sometimes a mentality of ‘if you have to put a tree in a town, put in a Birch or a Sorbus — nice trees, but they don’t have a personality, they don’t call you from a distance’.

“So can I just call for more impressive trees to be planted — trees that will become the personality of that little area, that little neighbourhood.”

Referring to her speech at last year’s KKB awards, Ms Lanigan recalled how she had said she had been ‘very worried’ about the line of trees on the Castlecomer Road and the building site and traffic passing by. After the completion of roadworks (not to mention Storm Ophelia’, the trees are still standing.

“The road is open, and those trees are the star of it,” she said

“They’ve got a nice green verge that they’re sitting on top of. They look beautiful, and they make that road so much more than it would have been without them.”

Noting the green spaces and abundant grassy verges of the county and its road network, she said there was more that could be done. In one case, she said she had seen a council worker out cutting grass on the ring road on the outside of a crash barrier, on a strip about two-foot wide.

Opportunities abound elsewhere, she said, noting that the suburbs in particular was ripe for planting of significant trees.

“Could we think about planting more exceptional trees? she asked.

“I’d love to be able to say to people in these suburbs, as you drive through them, that you’d have to peek through the trees to get to see the houses.”

“If you go to any of the ‘swanky’ suburbs of Dublin, the one thing you notice is they call them ‘the leafy suburbs’. And that’s because they’re full of trees.

“And they’re more interesting, they’re more beautiful, they are more useful to nature — they absorb more carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. They provide living spaces for hundreds of species.

“They absorb road noise, they make the place wonderful. So, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Keep Kilkenny Leafy! Let’s add more trees.”