All for one and one for all

There is a tree in Harold’s Cross park called a Handkerchief tree. It was planted on the 50th anniversary of the local laundrywomen’s strike in 1945.  When it blooms, the white flowers look like handkerchiefs.  It doesn’t bloom very often, and the head gardener told me that it would probably be happier in a sunnier position – or indeed – in a warmer climate.  A few weeks ago, however, I noticed a little flower on it.  I have to admit that it looked pretty insignificant but – isn’t it the thought that counts?  For the exhibition, Tondo in the Park, I decided to draw attention to this tree and to the women’s strike by tying some old handkerchiefs to the branches.  
'All for one and one for all'

During the Harold’s Cross Festival, the park set the mood and provided the backdrop for this exhibition of sculptures, installations and conceptual works by Tondo.  The artists taking part were Gerard Cox, Eve Parnell, Paul O’Hare and myself.

Responding to the Victorian history of the park, Eve Parnell installed a ‘Victorian Ghost’ and launched folded paper boats onto the pond (see below).  Gerard Cox installed a series of bamboo ladders and Paul O’Hare made some sculptural bird feeders from recycled materials. 

'Afternoon Adventures'

 There is more about the works in this exhibition on my website   – follow the links to ‘Tondo group shows’.



  1. Hello Eoin, – In May of this year, just a few weeks ago really, I was in Altamont Gardens in Co Carlow when I came across a Handkerchief Tree in full bloom, complete with hundreds of ‘handkerchiefs.’ To say I was enchanted by the sight is putting it mildly. I had never seen a tree of this kind before, which I think is from China, and I thought it might be one of the very few growing in Ireland. Imagine my surprise, then, to read your blog, Eoin, and learn that there is one in Harold’s Cross Park! It seldom blooms, it’s in the shade maybe…what a pity. For a photo of one in full bloom (in an English garden) go to:

    Of course, it’s not in bloom as such, as the hankies are really elaborate bracts, which are the casings of the leaf buds, I think.

    But even stranger than the extremely exotic tree is that Eoin was writing about one, in Harold’s Cross, at roughly the same time (within a week or two anyway) that I was seeing one in Carlow and marvelling at its I guess beauty. All the stranger of course because we are brothers!

    Anyway, re Altamont Gardens, they are owned by the state, run by the OPW, and full of interesting trees and flowers. Tulip Tree is another one that stopped me in my tracks. Well worth a visit, and no entry fee or anything.

    Many of the plants were gathered from different parts of the world by a woman, over several decades in early or mid-20th century, I think. And it’s really odd, but a lot of the trees look very feminine, as though they were species chosen for their grace or elegance or something like that. You don’t normally think of conifers as ‘female’ trees but if you visit these gardens you will find a few that definitely look it. But the Handkerchief Tree looks more like one of those Rag Trees that you see around the country.


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