Daffodils are planted everywhere in Ireland. They begin to bloom in late January. The magnificent old gardens of Ireland spring to life in February and March and are filled with an abundance of life by April. The Irish climate – mild winters, mild summers, perfect moisture – is perfect for many northern hemisphere plants and trees. Some of Ireland’s great gardens are found on the remains of colonial-era estates and date from the 18th century. Wealthy land owners sometimes owned shares in the clipper ships that circled the world. Ship captains would return with seeds and saplings from such places as California, Chile and China which were planted in the estate gardens we can visit today.
Three times I’ve had the pleasure of being in Irish gardens in April. One of these trips was an Irish gardens tour that launched my travel business. Here are scenes of my favorite gardens. Links to the gardens’ websites follow the photographs.
This is a view of my favorite Irish garden. It’s called Mount Usher Gardens and it’s located about 25 miles south of Dublin. Mt. Usher is comprised of 22 acres that have been developed since its beginning in 1868. In spring English blue bells cover the earth and pear blossoms float overhead.
This beautiful Japanese Garden is located at the Irish National Stud Farm, a breeding facility for thoroughbred race horses. The garden was developed in 1905 as a symbol of friendship between Japan and Ireland. The theme is one lifetime, from birth to death, expressed in the rocks, tunnels, and plants of this small garden. It’s exquisite.
Powerscourt was Ireland’s largest colonial-era estate. The gardens are Italinate in style except for the corner that houses a Japanese garden. There’s a wonderful perennial border near the mansion that blooms all year. There’s more to Powerscourt than the house and gardens. It contains a superb (but difficult) golf course, a waterfall, and even a mountain! It’s located about 15 miles south of Dublin.
Fota House & Gardens is located in the south of Ireland, a few miles west of Cork. It’s a superb example of a colonial era garden now filled with enormous trees and flowering shrubs. There’s also a zoo in this park.
Mount Congreve was the property of Ambrose Congreve who began gardening at the age of 11 and who directed the development of these gardens until his death in 2011 at the age of 104. Known especially for its azalea and hydrangeas, the garden comprises more than 100 acres. Mount Congreve is about five miles from the city of Waterford.
Ilnacullin is an Italian garden on an island in the south of Ireland. It is also called Garnish, the name of the island where Ilnacullin is located. It’s 37 acres include the formal small pond shown here and an Italian tower. Reach the island by small ferry; information about the ferries is in the site linked to below.
Altamont, located in County Carlow in the center of southern Ireland, is largely the result of the work of one woman, Corona North. It is especially beautiful when many specimens of narcissus bloom in the perennial garden. There’s a lovely pond, a nature trail and a riverside walk within its 40+ acres.
Japanese Gardens at the National Stud Farm
Powerscourt House and Gardens
Fota House and Gardens
There are many books about the gardens of Ireland. One I especially like is entitled The Garden Lover’s Guide to Ireland. It was published in 2001 (in the U.S.) by Princeton Architectural Press. It’s part of a series of garden guides for countries in Europe and as well as four regional guides for the United States. The ISBN is 9781568982700.
Googling for information, pictures and videos to gardens all over Ireland is recommended. I’ve barely begun to introduce readers to the many beautiful gardens to be found there.
For any of these gardens, a search of Google Images will return many beautiful scenes.