When it comes right down to it – all of Ireland is a garden. Ireland is one of the most fertile places on earth. The mild climate and long growing season coupled with fertile soil and ample amounts of precipitation culminate to create an ideal growing environment. A trip through the lush countryside is a wonder to the eyes. A spectacular patchwork quilt of stonewalled fields literally unfolds before your eyes. With over 40 shades of green the countryside comes alive and must be personally experienced. The landscape is much too vivid to be reproduced.
Some of the loveliest settings in Ireland evolve around its gardens. It is here that peace and tranquility abounds. Many of Irelands gardens were created by some of the most talented experts from around the globe. There are formal gardens, Victorian gardens, Japanese gardens, and decorative vegetable gardens. Here, we have noted only a few well-known gardens of Ireland. Many others exist throughout the country. We recommend that you take time to “stop and smell the roses” during your journey. Ask locally about gardens, which may be visited in the area. Remember – all of Ireland is a garden.
Knappogue Castle & Walled Garden offers a newly restored 19th century walled garden set against the beautiful backdrop of Knappogue Castle. Dating from 1817, the beautiful 1.25-acre garden is now restored to its former splendour. The tall and imposing walls of the walled garden have now been refurnished with climbing roses, grapevines and many clematis varieties.
The garden’s centerpiece – Bacchus, the Greek God of Wine, reflects the former epicurean philosophy & lifestyle of the mediaeval castle. The garden’s main features include the pergola, the tranquil bandstand, and the rockery with fernery, shrubberies and pathways lined with herbaceous borders. The garden supplies the Castle with fresh herbs for daily use in the preparation of the mediaeval banquet, which take place nightly at 7:00PM from April to October.
Located near Quin, County Clare 11km east of Ennis off the R469. Open viewing for viewing 7 days a week.
The National Botanic Gardens in Dublin offer free admission or guided tours. The gardens were founded in 1795 by the Royal Dublin Society and taken over by the state in 1878. The gardens feature a rose garden, vegetable garden, an arboretum, and a yew-walk along the River Tolka, herbaceous beds, and various natural habitats. The greenhouses have a multitude of exotic plants.
Another great garden in Dublin is the Iveagh Gardens, close to St. Stephen’s Green. This garden has been open to the public only a few years. The estate was built during the 18th Century. There are ivy-clad corners, statues, a grotto, landscape gardens, and a maze. A Victorian rosarium has recently been rebuilt.
County Wicklow is known as “The Garden of Ireland”. It is home to the following magnificent horticultural wonders: Powerscourt Estate, Russborough, Mount Usher Gardens, Killruddery House and Gardens, and Avondale House and Forest Park. From May through July is the Wicklow Garden Festival. During the festival over fifty private gardens are available for public enjoyment. With their maturity and diversity, these gardens offer spectacular grandeur.
Powerscourt House, Gardens and Waterfall is located at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains. Richard Wingfield, the Viscount of Powerscourt, created the gardens in the 1740’s. Daniel Robertson further developed the gardens from 1843 to 1975. Powerscourt has the highest waterfall in Ireland. It also offers many garden attractions including formal gardens as well as landscaped walks comprised of over 200 varieties of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants. There is also a garden center, shops and a café on the property.
The Japanese Garden is located on the outskirts of Kildare Town in County Kildare. At the early part of the 20th Century, Lord Wavertree, owner of the property, hired a Japanese gardener Eida and his son Minora, to design the gardens. It includes a Zen rock garden, exotic plants, trees and bamboo.
Outside the town of Killarney lie Muckross House and Gardens in County Kerry. Muckross House is a magnificent Victorian mansion built in 1843. Horse drawn carriages can take you from the carpark to the mansion, about 1 mile, through beautiful tree lined pastures. The famed gardens are world-renowned. They are noted for the collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, a rock garden and the many walk ways along the shores of the lake.
The Victorian Gardens at Kylemore Abbey are located in Connemara, County Galway. A wealthy Englishman built it for his bride. After her sudden death, the property sat vacant. During WWII, the Benedictine Nuns purchased the estate. This is one of the most picturesque settings in Ireland. You may tour the country house now used as an international girl’s school and convent or the gardens and long walk ways through the woods. There is also a beautiful but rather steep climb up the mountain to a statue of Jesus, a smaller version of the one found in Rio de Janeiro. Once on top of the mountain, the panoramic views cannot be beat.
The National Trust operates the gardens at Mount Stewart in County Down, Northern Ireland. The gardens encompass 80 acres. It has a variety of different kinds of gardens and a vast array of plants.
The Botanic Gardens in Belfast, County Antrim, were created in1827. The gardens surround a wrought iron and glass greenhouse, built in 1839, which is considered the largest greenhouse in the world. Many of the plants are over 100 years old. The Tropical Ravine House displays a range of tropical plants grown in a sunken glen.
Timoleague Castle Gardens, in County Cork, are large walled gardens surrounding the castle ruins.
Butterstream, Trim, County Westmeath, is a rather young garden, began in 1970, by Jim Reynolds. Butterstream is comprised of several interlinking garden “rooms” each one more beautiful and unique than the next.
Ilnacullin, Garinish Island, Glengarriff, County Cork, is very beautiful and unusual garden on Garnish Island in Bantry Bay. This island garden is warmed by sea but often buffeted by strong prevailing winds. Harold Peto designed this unique isle garden in the Italian Arts and Crafts style.
Kilmokea Country Manor and Gardens, County Wexford consists of two distinct gardens. A formal walled garden surrounds the house and a free flowing woodland garden beyond. It is well known for its wide variety of rare trees and shrubs. Bed and Breakfast accommodations are also available.
Ardgillan Castle and Victorian Gardens, located in Balbriggan, County Dublin was built in 1738. It is a fine 18th century manor house surrounded by 80 hectares of gardens and woodlands. A Victorian glass conservatory, a rose garden and walled garden can all be found on the property.
Tullynally Castle and Gardens, Castlepollard, County Westmeath is 12 hectacres of gardens and parkland. The gardens encompass two lakes, a grotto, a Chinese garden and many walking paths.
Almost 160 acres comprise Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, located in County Westmeath. Walled gardens, follies, 6 km of nature trails and ruins can all be found. There is also a petting park. The house, built in 1740, has recently been restored, and is also open to the public.
In 1870, the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, designed the woodland garden, Derreen Garden, located in County Kerry. The garden boasts magnificent views of the Caha Mountains and Kilmackillogue Harbour. It contains some of the original rhododendrons, now over 60 feet tall.
Located in County Limerick, is Ballynacourty, it comprises several small gardens, one with a laburnum walk, another with a small vegetable garden. There are several varieties of roses through out. The best time to view the roses are the months of May and June.
Many of the country houses and castles offering overnight accommodations are beautifully landscaped with formal gardens.