THE Irish President has congratulated a Co Kerry gardener for picking up his second gold medal at the Chelsea Flower show.
Billy Alexander from Kells Bay Gardens found out on Tuesday morning he had scooped the top prize for his carefully constructed ferns garden.
This is now his third gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society, with previous wins in 2021 at Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Show.
Praising the achievement, President Michael D Higgins said: "Congratulations to Billy Alexander of Kelly Bay Gardens in Co Kerry on his wonderful achievement in winning a gold medal for the second time at the Chelsea Flower Show for his ferns garden".
Congratulations to Billy Alexander of Kelly Bay Gardens in Co Kerry on his wonderful achievement in winning a gold medal for the second time at the Chelsea Flower Show for his ferns garden— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) May 23, 2023
After posting photos of King Charles and Queen Camilla admiring his work, Mr Alexander told RTÉ the accolade was “just amazing”.
With the design inspired by the wild Irish landscape in Co Kerry, he said the 100 square metre display was as much a feat of logistics as it was of gardening skills, as it required using specialist delivery companies to navigate Brexit restrictions.
"You're petrified when you open the doors, when they get to Chelsea, but first you have to do all the paperwork and the phytosanitary certificates and DEFRA, the authorities over here, and they have to check it. So, problems do occur, but thankfully none did," he said.
He said that the King and Queen even have some of his ferns in their private home.
"He has a collection of my ferns and I pop in once a year and just have a have a look at them, which is very nice," he said.
"It's very fulfilling that your peers, the judges, the public appreciate your work.
"It's the judges that give you the medal. So, to get that feedback is just amazing.
"And as one gets older, you're competing at the highest level, so it's very nice at my age to be competing at this level".