Second Lady of the United States tours Phoenix Park Victorian Walled Gardens

3 September 19

Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence was given a guided tour of the Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden in the Phoenix Park accompanied by Commissioner John McMahon, Margaret Gormley, Chief Park Superintendent & Brian Quinn, Gardener/Bee-Keeper from the Office of Public Works. The Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden is a two and a half-acre garden set in the grounds of Ashtown Castle at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and is cared for and managed sustainably by the OPW. The Phoenix Park is home to 28 beehives and is actively managed to encourage and increase pollination. A demonstration of honey extraction was undertaken by Meeda Downey, Head Gardener. A range of Honey from Co Tyrone, Co Clare and Dublin’s Phoenix Park was sampled by the Second Lady as part of the Irish experience. Home grown produce from the Walled Kitchen Garden was also on display.

Pollinators are estimated to contribute €53 million annually to the Irish economy. However more than half of Irelands bee species have undergone substantial declines in their numbers since 1980, with 30% of species considered threatened with extinction from Ireland.  The OPW team in the Park are committed to protecting habitats and species and the Victorian Walled Garden is planted in a manner that supports and sustains pollinating insects. Ireland first pollinator friendly, floral bee corridor, is currently blooming within the walled garden.

Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said, "We are very happy to welcome U.S Second Lady Mrs Karen Pence and family to the Victorian Walled Garden in the Phoenix Park. The Walled Garden is carefully managed by the Office of Public Works to be a haven of biodiversity where pollinators can thrive. The Garden is a labour of love for the OPW and I hope that second family enjoy their visit to this beautiful space.2

The Park is a highly important site for biodiversity in Dublin City, supporting 50% of the mammal species found in Ireland and about 40% of bird species. The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre receives 1.7 million visitors annually and the OPW take a proactive role in promoting biodiversity within the Park, having successfully been awarded the 2019 All Ireland Pollinator Award for the Victorian Kitchen Walled Garden, by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. On September 13th and 14th the inaugural Phoenix Park Biodiversity Festival and Honey Show takes place at the Walled Garden. The OPW-run festival is being held to celebrate the rich biodiversity of the Park and inspire and encourage visitors to promote biodiversity in their own gardens. The free event is open to all and a there is full programme of activities taking place, from walks, talks, tours, music and art.

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Note to Editors

The Phoenix Park has also been awarded two international Park Management awards; the Gold International Large Urban Park Award and the Green Flag Award. Both awards recognise well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces.