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Gardens open to the public in the UK, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland & Eire

  • - Gardens open to the public in England, Wales & Northern Ireland

    Gardens open to the public to visit in Southern Ireland / Eire

    Before visiting, please check current opening times/dates.

    Altamont Gardens Tullow, Co. Carlow.

    Known as the most romantic garden in Ireland, Altamont is an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. Whilst still little known, it ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens and is often referred to as 'the jewel in Ireland's gardening crown' Lawns are bisected by sculpted yews sloping down to a romantic lake surrounded by rare trees, rhododendrons and shrubs. A profusion of roses, old fashioned and modern, and herbaceous plants scent the air.

    A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks leads to the majestic River Slaney. Along the River Walk, you may see salmon and trout rising, perhaps even an otter, and throughout the garden, an abundance of birds and butterflies. On your return via the Hill Walk, there are wonderful views of the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains and Mount Leinster.

    Annes Grove Castletownroche, Co. Cork.

    A creeper-covered 18th century house and walled garden form part of this wild garden, which began in the 1700s and was mentioned in Arthur Young's tour of Ireland in the 1770s. The later garden was the creation of R.A. Grove Annsley, grandfather of the present owner. Three areas of contrast comprise the 30 acres; the walled garden, the glen, and the riverside garden. The Robinsonian garden in the glen contains some of the earliest Kingdon Ward rhododendron introductions to Ireland, many of them grown from seed.

    Rhododendrons and azaleas cover the area much as they would in an Himalayan setting, perfuming the air and growing amid tall trees. The river garden leans more to the tropical and contains such specimens as Primula florindae grow to tremendous size. Rustic bridges cross the river, constructed by pre WWI British soldiers stationed at Fermoy barracks. A central path flanked by herbaceous borders comprises a key feature of the walled garden. Here scarlet-flowered Tropaeolum (creeping nasturtium) climbs through yew hedges. A summer house adds to the quiet look and is complemented by a pond surrounded by water-loving plants.

    Ashbourne House Gardens Glounthaune, Co. Cork.

    The origins of this 6 acre Robinsonian-style garden dates back to the turn of the century when Richard Henrik Beamish laid out the Gardens with a number of distinguishing features including a bog garden and an unusual arched Irish Yew walk, which has Cordyline Australis "Cabbage Trees" from New Zealand interplanted between the Irish Yews.

    Richard Beamish also laid out a woodland garden which includes many unusual trees from all areas of the world, most of which came through the collectors based at Glasnevin Botanical Gardens, Dublin and Kew Botanical Gardens, London. Richard Beamish was a great plantsman and recognised as such by many articles. He was credited with the name Meconopsis Beamishii, a beautiful yellow flowering poppy which originated at Ashbourne in 1906 and flowered till 1914 (New seedlings have been established from seed procured from the Irish Garden Plant Society).

    Ballinlough Castle Gardens Clonmellon, Co. Meath.

    A sense of antiquity prevails as one enters the gates of Ballinlough. Perched on a hill overlooking two lakes, the 17th century castle is the home of Sir John and Lady Nugent. The gardens have been under restoration since 1994, and are now open to the public, together with the lakeside and woodland walks. The walled garden covers 1.2ha, and is divided into four walled sections. On view are herbaceous borders, grass tennis court, lily pond, rose garden, a herb and soft fruit garden and a well stocked orchard. From the walled gardens, a white door leads to the lakeside walks with the charming water garden and its rustic summerhouse. The walk around the lake affords dramatic views of the castle and its demesne. Ballinlough Castle Gardens have been restored with the assistance of an ERDF grant through the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme.

    Ballincourty Ballysteen Co. Limerick.

    Twenty five years ago Ballynacourty was surrounded by open fields. Today the gardens extend to approximately 1.6ha. Soil depth is critical as this is a limestone area with stone outcrops close to the surface. The garden is designed as a series of small gardens all interlinked. One garden has a laburnum walk underplanted with lavender, another has vegetables (just enough for the house use), another is full of soft fruit and flowers for picking. Throughout the garden there are many varieties of shrub roses. May and June are months when the garden is full of flowering trees and shrubs, while the other months have many interesting delights.

    Birr Castle Demesne Birr, Co. Offaly.

    These gardens are over 100 acres in extent. There are formal gardens, designed around a 17th century plan, and the tallest Box Hedges in the world. Birr has one of the world's greatest collections of trees and shrubs and is particularly strong in species of Chinese and Himalayan origin.

    Butterstream Garden Trim, Co. Meath.

    The garden is now unfortunately closed (May, 2004) and there are no plans to re-open in the near future.

    Described by “House & Garden (July 1990)” as the most imaginative garden in Ireland, Butterstream is a modern creation having been made single-handed by its owner since the early 1970s. The garden comprises a series of carefully integrated compartments which temper drama with understatement. Hedges of beech, thorn and yew frame different areas focused on an architectural feature, an urn or a seat, where skilfully orchestrated plant themes or colour schemes enable a theatrical build-up with cool refreshing respites and unexpected surprises. The place offers a plantsman's collection with herbaceous borders, in strictly controlled colour tones, which are considered to be among the best in these islands.

    Creagh Gardens Skibbereen, Co. Cork.

    A garden for the romantic; quiet and peaceful, of woodlands sloping down to a sea-estuary with interesting and varied wild life. Over 8 ha of informal gardens based on a number of woodland glades and a serpentine mill-pond, amid a scene reminiscent of the background of a Douanier Rousseau painting by which it was inspired. Many tender and rare plants lovingly maintained as the life work of Gwendoline and Peter Harold-Barry, who purchased Creagh in 1945. The large walled garden dating from the Regency period, has been restored as a traditional and organic kitchen garden, with many varieties of domestic fowl in the orchard. New areas of interest include a mixed and herbaceous border and further woodland walks including Tree Ferns and Loderi Rhododendrons. The gardens have been restored with the assistance of an ERDF grant through the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme FÁS scheme.

    Dereen Gardens (V) Kallarney, Co. Kerry.

    The luxuriant woodlands of Derreen Gardens give glimpses of the sea and the surrounding wild and majestic country. Mossy paths and lichen-encrusted rocks, tunnels in deep shade through the rhododendrons, towering eucalyptus and groves of bamboo all contribute to the making of this fine sub-tropical garden.

    Dereen is also famous for its tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, Azaleas, rhododendrons (some rising as high as 60 feet), and the tender Maddenii and Sinograndes. Time will be taken for shopping and lunch in Kenmare before traveling on to tour Muckross House & Gardens in Killarney. This is a magnificent Victorian Mansion and one of Ireland's leading stately homes, beautifully situated in Killarney National Park. The Gardens host many floral exhibitions from time to time.

    Dillon Garden 45 Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin.

    The owners have made tremendous changes to this garden since they moved there over 25 years ago. Their work is described so well on their website, no attempt to plagiarise their own work. Please visit the virtual Dillon Garden. Better still go there in person.

    Fernhill Gardens Sandyford, Co. Dublin.

    The giant Wellingtonian redwoods in the broadwalk at Fernhill form a cathedral-like aisle. Beyond them stretches the greeness of the Victorian laurel lawn and a magnificent springtime blaze of colour from rhododendrons and azaleas. Many of these specimens were introduced from the Himalayas by the William Hooker expedition. At Fernhill you can see an increasingly rare example of an enclosed Victorian vegetable and flower garden. Many of the trees in the estate date back 200 years and the work of Judge William Darley, who collected plants from all over the world, has been continued by the Walker family.

    Fota Arboretum Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork.

    Fota Arboretum is primarily a collection of good trees and shrubs. The tradition of planting exotic trees and shrubs started by James Hugh Smith-Barry still continues, extending the history of tree planting in the Gardens over 150 years. James Hugh Smith-Barry showed considerable sensitivity in the initial planting of the Arboretum as the trees are well spaced, usually as single specimens in a park-like setting. The generous spacing, allowing the trees to grow large and enabling the form of individual plants to be appreciated is one of the features contributing to the international reputation of the Arboretum.

    Fota is also noteworthy for the large number of tender plants that flourish there, such as tree ferns, Pinus montezumae and dwarf fan palm (Chamaerops humilis). Several factors distinguish Fota from other large gardens in Ireland, the most significant of these factors are: the age of the Gardens, the availability of good historical records due, in part, to the fact that the Gardens were managed with little interruption since their establishment, the wide spacing of the plants and the number of large trees that have reached their full stature.

    Glenveagh Castle Gardens Glenveagh National Park, Churchill, Letterkenny Co. Donegal.

    The gardens, created by Henry Mcllhenny from Philadelphia, are part of Glenveagh National Park. Wood gardens and pleasure grounds, Italian and Belgian gardens, terraces with antique sculpture and terracotta pots, all these different themes have been skillfully interwoven against the wild and beautiful Donegal landscape. This, one of the most celebrated of Irish gardens, contains an important collection of trees and shrubs, some rare, some tender.

    The National Park covers 40,000 acres and takes in a beautiful valley occupied by Lough Veagh and Poisened Glen, a marshy valley enclosed by dramatic cliffs. The park also protects the largest herd of red deer in the country. Glenveagh Castle stands on the southern shores of Lough Veagh and is reached only by a healthy hike or by the park supplied shuttle bus.

    Heywood Garden Ballinakill, Co. Laois.

    Considered the finest Lutyens-designed garden in Ireland, Heywood's historical interest combines a romantic eighteenth-century garden with a spectacular hillside setting and gothic features. Terraces and elliptical beds encircle a pool and fountain, the whole of which is sheltered by a circular pierced wall. The garden is divided into four parts, a sunken garden linked with a formal lawn, an alley of pleached limes backed by stone walls decorated with niches and classical urns, a series of herb gardens and a terraced pergola that overlooks the largest of the ornamental lakes. In 1941, the Silesian Order purchased the house and estate; it is now in the hands of the Office of Public Works which is handling the restoration of the garden.

    Hotel Dunloe Castle Gardens Beaufort, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

    The Dunloe Castle Gardens contain one of the most fascinating and important collections of trees and shrubs in Ireland. In fact, there are trees gowing here that are rarely, if at all found, in Britain or indeed Europe. The most ancient trees are the two Yews known as Adam and Eve in the Walled Garden which are between 300 and 350 years old. Most others however, have been planted this century, the majority during the 1920's by Howard Harrington, an American who lived in the old house at Dunloe Castle for almost twenty years.

    Many of the trees Harrington planted were rare of in other ways unusual like the Chinese Pond Cypress by the stream whilst others such as the Monterey pines down the Avenue served a more mundane role, that of windbreaks. Fortunately, a great number of these trees not ony survive but continue in good health and a tour of the more interesting specimens is an educational experience but also very enjoyable.

    Ilnacullin Glengariff, Co. Cork.

    Perhaps the most magical setting a garden could have is to be on an island, bathed in warm waters of the gulf stream, surrounded by scenery of great natural beauty; such is the situation of Ilnacullin. The Italian garden designed by Harold Peto, the Martello tower, the clock tower, a Grecian temple overlooking the sea, flights of steps and magnificent pedimented gateways: all these superb architectural features are brilliantly integrated with a plant collection of worldwide repute. The island is reached by licensed boats from Glengarriff.

    Kilmokea Great Island, Campile, Co. Wexford.

    Kilkmokea is situated on the joint estuary of the Nore and the Barrow. The gardens, which cover almost 3 hectares, fall into two distinct parts. Around the house are the formal walled gardens and set into the stone wall a heavy wooden door leads you into the magical world of the lower garden. Originally started in 1947 these gardens host a wide selection of rare and tender trees and shrubs. Within the walled garden its rooms lead from one design feature to the next. The Italian loggia and pool with its fine stone pillars looks across to the quarter garden brimming with iris and roses. The acid soil of the woodland garden provides the perfect environment for rhododendrons, tender camellias, eucryphias and magnolias as well as echiums, the giant borage which is closely associated with Kilmokea, which is part of the 'Hidden Ireland' taking guests for bed, breakfast and dinner.

    Kilruddery Bray, Co.Wicklow.

    Laid out in the 17th century, by a French gardener called Bonet who worked at Versailles, Killruddery is regarded as one of the finest French Classical gardens in Ireland. Among its important features are romantic parterres, a pair of long canals in a setting of grass and trees, a high beech hedge encircling a pool and fountains, a good collection of statues, many of which are Victorian, and a very fine mid 19th century conservatory. The sylvan theatre, a small enclosure surrounded by a bay hedge, is the only known example of its kind in Ireland.

    Lodge Park Walled Garden Straffan, Co. Kildare.

    The restoration of this 18th century walled garden adjoining Lodge Park, a Palladian house of 1773, started in 1980. The old brick-faced walls look much as they did when it was built, and here fruit, flowers and vegetables are grown for the house. The garden is divided into different sections but the design is dictated by the long, box-edged axis path with regularly spaced clipped yew trees. It comprises a south-facing shrub border, herbaceous border, different coloured gardens, vegetable area, decorative salad garden with a walk-way of sweet peas, and a rosarie which is at its best in June and July. The garden is beside the Steam Museum.

    Mount Juliet Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.

    Sublime 18th century parkland along the river Nore is embellished with mature and stately stands of oak, lime and chestnut, providing an appropriate setting for the great house which is now a hotel. The extensive walled gardens, where a quiet and calm old-world atmosphere lingers still, has lawns, flowering shrubs and double herbaceous borders which are approached through a moon gate. From early summer to late autumn these provide a changing pageant of flowers and a spectacle of colour. There is a formal rose garden and near the drive an informal rockery and a water garden where a range of moisture-loving plants are presided over by the great umbrellas of the giant Amazonian Gunnera manicata.

    National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, Dublin.

    The National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, founded by the Royal Dublin Society in 1795, is now administered by the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. The Gardens, 19.5 hectares on the south bank of the Tolka, contain many attractive features including: an arboretum, rock garden and burren areas, large pond, extensive herbaceous borders, student garden and annual display of decorative plants including a rare example of Victorian carpet bedding. Glasshouses include: the beautifully restored curvilinear range designed and built by Richard Turner between 1843 and 1869, large palm house, new alpine house and the complex for ferns, tropical water plants and succulents.

    Notable specimens include: a fine, weeping Atlantic cedar, venerable Chusan palms and native strawberry trees, and the "Last Rose of Summer" of the famous ballad. National Collections of garrya and potentilla fruticosa are among the 20,000 species and cultivars grown.

    National Garden Exhibition Centre Kilquade, Co. Wicklow.

    There are unique displays of 16 permanent gardens ranging from town house gardens to rose gardens to large water and woodland gardens. These gardens were designed and built by some of Ireland's leading designers and landscapers. The exhibition offers inspiriation to both the new and experienced gardener.

    Mount Usher Gardens Ashford, Co Wicklow.

    These lovely gardens, laid out along the banks of the Vartry River, represent the Robinsonian style, that of informality and natural design. Trees and shrubs introduced from many parts of the world are planted in harmony with woodland and shade loving plants. The Gardens cover 20 acres and contain approximately 5000 different species of plants and trees including many rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias, eucryphia and shrubs.

    A magnificent vista opens on to a sea of spring-flowering bulbs spread throughout the meadows. The river with its weirs and waterfalls is enhanced by attractive suspension bridges from which spectacular and romantic views can be enjoyed. Water forms an essential part of the scenery with cascades and bridges visible from many sections.

    Powerscourt Enniskerry, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

    One of the world's great gardens situated 20 km south of Dublin in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The gardens were begun by Richard Wingfield, Viscount Powerscourt, in the 1740s. The word garden belies the magnitude of this creation which stretches out over 20 hectares. It is a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statuary and ornamental lakes with secret hollows, rambling walks, walled gardens and over 200 variations of trees and shrubs. The 18th century house, which was gutted by fire in 1974 has an innovative new use, incorporating a terrace restaurant overlooking the garden, speciality shops and an exhibition on the history of the Estate. New Garden Centre opened in Spring 2000. The gardens have been restored with the assistance of an ERDF grant through the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme.

    Primrose Hill Lucan, Co. Dublin.

    This lovely, old-world garden opens for February with the early spring wide ranging collection of snowdrops, crocus, iris and hellebores. A visit is a must at this exciting time of year. The garden opens again in June with a wide ranging collection of perennials, many rare, some our own hybrids, of special interest to the plantsperson.

    Ram House Gardens Coolgreany, Gorey, Co. Wexford.

    The private garden created by Lolo and Godfrey Stevens over the last twenty years around an old garda barracks is surprisingly mature.The design is an important element dividing the 0.75 hectares into small intimate garden "rooms" has allowed for the great variety of treatment. There are terraces, trellis work and pergolas smothered in wisteria, clematis, roses and honeysuckle, immaculate lawns, mixed borders in soft colours, lavish planting around a little stream, ponds and a delicious woodland glade. It is a sweetly scented and romantic garden of great charm.

    A collection of over 70 varieties of Clematis is held at Ram House. Open May, June, July and August; Fri, Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 14.30-18.00, Other times and groups by appointment.

    Talbot Botanic Gardens Malahide, Co. Dublin.

    The Gardens as they exist today were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot in the years 1948 to 1973 and cover an area of over 8 hectares - 6.5 hectares of shrubbery and 1.5 hectares of Walled Gardens. The choice of plants is limited by the alkalinity of the soil (ph 7) which precludes the growing of rhododendrons etc. An emphasis has been placed on the cultivation of plants from the Southern Hemisphere - many species and varieties collected by Lord Talbot.

    Genera which are particularly well represented are Olearia, Azara, Escallonia, Pittosporum, Syringa, Hypericum, Clematis, Euphorbia, Nothofagus, Salvia, and Berberis. The collection continues to be expanded with the addition of new species and varieties. Seed exchange has been resumed and many additional species of suspect hardiness have been planted. Further improvements are being assisted from the ERDF grant through the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme.



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