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Irish gardener wins gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious gardening events.

Billy Alexander inside his gold winning fern garden.
Billy Alexander inside his gold winning fern garden.
Image: RHS

A COUNTY KERRY horticulturist has won a Gold Medal at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Ireland’s Master Gardener Billy Alexander of Kells Bay Gardens in Co. Kerry has received a gold medal at the prestigious event in London. 

It is Alexander’s second such award from the Royal Horticultural society (RHS) for his exotic fern display, after receiving a gold medal at the Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in July of this year. 

The gardener said that the display showcases the uniqueness, diversity and beauty of world fern species, all of which grow naturally in the idyllic microclimate at Kells Bay Gardens located between Cahersiveen and Killorglin on the Iveragh Peninsula. 

“To receive a second gold medal from the esteemed RHS is hugely rewarding, and it is a great privilege to be here today.

“Our fern collection is the real jewel in the crown at Kells Bay Gardens, and the enthusiasm and level of care required to conserve and build upon our historical and rare species has been several decades in the making.

“The invitation to showcase has not been without its challenges however, as the realities of transporting agricultural matter during a pandemic, and across borders, has resulted in significant logistical and financial investments along the way.

“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to this year’s show and to introduce them to the intricate and fascinating world of ferns through our stand-out exhibition,” 

The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the world’s most famous gardening exhibitions and began today in London. 

Jon Wheatley, senior RHS Judge paid tribute to the Irish gardener for his display. 

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“Probably the most outstanding exhibit of ferns I have ever seen at any Chelsea show, the range and quality of Billy’s plants is quite exceptional, congratulations – he is a credit to his country,” he said.

A spokesperson for the event said that the gardens are known locally as the ‘Jewel on the Ring’ and stretch to just over seventeen hectares, which contain a collection of sub-tropical plants.

The centrepiece of the gardens is the extensive tree fern collection, many of which date back to the mid-19th century after being brought over from Australia. The plants have adapted well due to the idyllic microclimate offered in the sunny south-west of Ireland. 

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