Where did the Wildflowers come from?

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Montbretia in Connemara

I was digging in at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) the other day. Not quite what you might think… It was all because of a photograph that I took some years ago. But let me explain…

Crocosmia is the name of a group of writers and poets who are seeking asylum here in Ireland. Crocosmia is also the official name for that exuberant orange wildflower that blooms all over the West of Ireland. (Montbretia is another name for it).

That’s it above in the photo – the same photo that brought me into contact with artist Clodagh Emoe who was developing an art project in the garden of the Spirasi Centre in Dublin. (Spirasi is the intercultural NGO that works with refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged migrant groups in Ireland).

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Crocosmia Project at IMMA

Did you know that Crocosmia originally came from southern and eastern Africa? Well it did – but it has adapted impressively to our misty shores, flourishing in the hedgerows and adding a luxurious splash of colour to the Irish countryside, a nice metaphor for the new Irish, wouldn’t you say?

I always loved seeing this flower in the West and we also had it growing in my mother’s garden in Ranelagh and now, it is flourishing in our own front garden in Harold’s Cross.

I took a photograph – indeed, I take photographs of it all the time, year after year and every time the evening sun picks out its fiery orange petals… but one such photograph caught the eye of Clodagh Emoe and she asked if she could use it in the project. And then, when she heard that we had a garden full of it…

working on the Crocosmia art project at IMMA
Some of the workers of the Crocosmia art project at IMMA with artist Clodagh Emoe on the left hand side (with the spade)

The years passed, the project expanded and lately Clodagh has been travelling the country, collecting donations of Crocosmia from all over the place, to bring to IMMA to form part of a great (living) work of art.  I brought over a big clump of it from our garden and helped to plant them “artistically” along with the rest.

The title of the project is: “ The Plurality of Existence in the Infinite Expanse of Space and Time”. You can read more about it here

So, that’s the story of how my mother’s wildflowers ended up in the Irish Museum of Modern Art. I’d say she would’ve been happy with that. She never really went for all that “mad modern stuff.”






  1. I’ve tried to grow Crocosmia many times over the yrs. here in Chicago but it doesn’t make it during our winters. Zone 5 love the plant thou. Wish I had it in my garden in late summer. Beautiful color.
    Hope your doing well


  2. A friend of mine gave me directions once saying,”look in the area of the flame flowers”. Is this a general nickname for montbretia or was it just my friend’s own invention? Tá siad dathúil pé ainm atá orthu.


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