Driving along the Broad Road about three miles out of Limavady it is easy to miss one of the horticultural treasures of the northwest, if not the whole of Northern Ireland; this hidden gem is John Gault’srhododendron and azalea garden and on the bank holiday weekend of Saturday 28th to Monday 30th May the public will have the opportunity to view this unique display, the result of a lifetime of work on the part of John and his late wife Maureen.
John’s interest in rhododendrons started at a very young age. His father bought two plants at BalmoralAgricultural Show in 1935 and the following springthe three year old John was so intrigued by the large buds coming into flower, that he broke them off and proudly displayed them to his father at the kitchen table, remarking how nice he thought they were; the very painful memory of his father’s reaction remains with him even after eighty years!
He started buying rhododendrons after he left school at the age of sixteen. At first most of those he planted died but with perseverance and self teaching from thebooks he bought he achieved his schoolboy dream of successfully cultivating and propagating these lovelyplants, some of which were the start of the display you can see during the open days.
His work was so successful that by the late sixties and into the early seventies he had so many plants that more space was required for them that he andMaureen decided to uproot the apple orchard and use it for planting rhododendrons and it was at this stage the seed was sown to start a nursery, which today many rightly regard as the top rhododendron and azalea nursery in Northern Ireland. Many of the plants you can see have been bred on the nursery, some are already registered with the Royal Horticulture Society and others await registration .
John will also give us demonstrations and advice on planting, taking cuttings and hybridising on the open days which are Saturday 28th May, 2pm to 7pm, Sunday 29th, 2pm to 6pm and Monday 30th, 2pm to 7pm. At John’s request voluntary donations can be made to Drumachose Presbyterian Church manse fund.