‘The Brightest Jewel’ by E. Charles Nelson and Dr. Eileen Mc Cracken

1998 saw the bicentennial of our National Botanic Gardens, which started my first cycle of poems and images, some of which I exhibited in a group show called Ramus (Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin). The gardens flourish with two of the houses now restored to their former glory, the Curvilinear Range and the Palm House; distinguished by the lolling cat, the connecting door into the fabulous orchid collection, and the little plate which commemorates Wittgensteins seating place.

I am sure Wittgenstein had many places in Ireland, another one is located at the Fjord of  Killary harbour  where if one is lucky one can see rainbows nestling along the sides, usually in pairs. A small commemorative plate nestles there on a low wall at the site of the visitors youth hostel at Rosroe.

The Botanic Gardens share a boundary with the Huge citadel of Glasnevin Cemetery, where my brother lies in an unmarked grave, and that was the beginning of the poems. Glas Naíon translates into The Stream of the Infants. The River Tolka runs along the edge of the gardens and is nodded to by a huge Socrates who inhabits a niche just beyond the Japanese bridge.

So, there is lots of food for thought for the makers of images and poetry, generally small children are fascinated with the tame squirrel colony and the arching Yew walk. On many days the film-makers, sketchers and thinkers can be seen walking the boundaries and edges of the Gardens, it’s nice to see.

The History of the Herbarium and the Gardens are detailed in the excellent book mentioned at the beginning of this piece:

The Brightest Jewel, by Nelson/Mc Cracken 1987

The Victoria Lily is no longer there, the house she occupied is up for renovation, it included a ferns room and cacti. The cacti have been temporarily re-housed in the great palm house. The gardeners will gladly regale with tales of her fertility cycle and blushing when she returns. A small closed in area on the walk to the lily house has a section of Moore’s last Rose of Summer and stops many curious people in their tracks.

The Last Rose of Summer , by Thomas Moore

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