Gardens in Dublin and Dublin Surrounds


Day 1 & 2: Dublin

malahide castle
First, stop Malahide Castle and Talbot Botanic Gardens. Malahide Castle is one of the oldest and most historic castles in Ireland.  From 1185 until 1975, it was the home of the Talbot family.  This was a remarkable tenure by one family and is one of the longest in Ireland.

Within the Malahide Castle Demense, you will find the Talbot Botanic Gardens which contain almost 5,000 plant species. Emphasis has been placed on Southern Hemisphere plants, particularly Australasian and Chilean species. The gardens were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot between 1948 and 1973 and cover an area of 6.6ha of shrubbery.

Lovers of flowers should also visit the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin where the restored Turner Conservatory hosts the palm houses. in 1790 the Irish Parliament, granted funds to the Dublin Society (now the Royal Dublin Society) to establish a public botanic garden. In 1795 the Gardens were founded on lands in Glasnevin

national botanic gardens

The National Botanic Gardens is noted for its fine plant collections holding over 15,000 plant species and cultivars from a variety of habitats from all around the world. Famous for its exquisitely restored and planted glasshouses, notably the Turner Curvilinear Range and the Great Palm House, both recipients of the Europa Nostra award for excellence in conservation architecture.

Visitors can enjoy such features as the herbaceous borders, rose garden, the alpine yard, the pond area, rock garden and arboretum. Conservation plays an important role in the life of the botanic garden and Glasnevin is home to over 300 endangered plant species from around the world including 6 species, which are already extinct in the wild.



Stay in Dublin:

A choice of accommodation awaits you on your visit to Dublin, from the stylish 5-star Merrion Hotel or the unqiue Wilder Townhouse both in the heart of the city centre to Barberstown Castle, in the beautiful green countryside and only a short drive outside of Dublin, or how about the petite King Sitric Restaurant & Townhouse in the village of Howth, with amazing sea views. 

Day 3 & 4: Wicklow ( Known as The Garden of Ireland)

kilruddery house

A visit to Wicklow can start in one of two places, Killruddery House and Gardens or Powerscourt House and Gardens. Both are located within close proximity of each other and if you are on a tight timetable you could visit both in the one day.

Killruddery is situated on Dublin’s doorstep, home to the Brabazon Family (the Earls of Meath) since 1618 and currently the home of the 15th Earl of Meath. Killruddery Gardens are unique in that they are the oldest in Ireland still surviving in their original 17th-century style together with 18th and 19th-century additions. The Gardens were designed for the entertainment of a large number of people and therefore the scale is comparable to that of a park. The Gardens should be regarded as mainly the work of the 5th and 6th Earls.  

Russborough House and Parklands overlook Blessington Lake and the nearby Wicklow Mountains. Russborough's Walled Gardens are currently being restored by volunteers of the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland however visitors are still welcome to the gardens to see the important work being done to restore the walled gardens to their former splendour. 

The grounds of this magnificent country house are also home to an impressive hedge maze, numerous walking trails where interesting flora and fauna can be discovered, and the fascinating birds of prey centre.


Powerscourt House and Gardens: A house and garden of world renown, Powerscourt is a sublime blend of parkland, terraces, statuary, walled enclosures, rambling walks and ornamental lakes. It is a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statuary and ornamental lakes together with secret hollows, rambling walks, walled gardens and over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs.

The charming walled garden, the striking terraces, fine statuary and varied trees are linked by carefully designed walks and set in the magnificent surroundings of the Wicklow mountains.

Travelling just 30 minutes south by car you reach the Mount Usher Gardens. Laid out along the banks of the River Vartry, Mount Usher has been designed in the Robinsonian style. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants have been introduced from all parts of the globe and are planted in harmony with woodland and shade-loving plants. Like all the great gardens of Ireland, Mount Usher offers varying pleasures at different seasons of the year. Rhododendrons in Spring, a blaze of Summer colour and the wistful tints of Autumn, all elegantly set off by the crystal waters of the river. 

Stay in Wicklow:

You are spoiled for choice in Wicklow, with the charming Hunter's Hotel, the peaceful Wicklow Escape and the romantic Rathsallagh House.

Hunter's Hotel, set in 2 acres of award-winning gardens on the banks of the river Vartry is a wonderful choice for your stay in Co. Wicklow.  Rathsallagh House is converted from Queen Anne stables in 1798, set in 530 acres of peaceful parkland with its own walled garden. The Wicklow Escape is a beautiful lodge nestled in the West Wicklow Mountains, offering two and three day unqie destination dining experiences. 

Day 5: Kildare

japanese gardens

First stop is the Irish National Stud with the Japanese Gardens & St. Fiachra Garden in Kildare Town.


The Japanese Gardens at Tully were created between the years 1906-1910. Devised by Colonel William Hall-Walker (later Lord Wavertree), a wealthy Scotsman of a famous brewery family and laid out by the Japanese Eida and his son Minoru. The Gardens planned to symbolise the 'Life of Man', are now of international renown and are acclaimed as the finest Japanese Gardens in Europe.


In 1999 the Irish National Stud created a commemorative garden to St. Fiachra, Patron Saint of Gardeners, to celebrate the Millennium. It was designed by Professor Martin Hallinan, award-winning landscape architect. He created a garden which presents visitors with a similar natural environment to that which inspired the spirituality of the monastic movement in Ireland during the 6th and 7th centuries.


Stay in Kildare:

These award-winning gardens are a must on a garden lover's list.

At the end of the day overnight at Barberstown Castle near Straffan or the Cliff at Lyons in the heart of Celbridge. 

Gardens in the Midlands of Ireland

Day 1:


Moving further into the midlands of Ireland, we recommend a visit to Altamont Gardens. Known as the most romantic gardens in Ireland, Altamont is an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100-acre estate.

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 lead 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.


The Carlow Garden Trail currently features 16 different gardening attractions with an additional two gardens in the surrounding counties of Kildare and Wexford


Stay in:
Mount Juliet Estate in Co. Kilkenny or Butler House, also in Co. Kilkenny



Day 1 and 2: Co. Clare

the burren

Let's start this tour in The Burren, from the Gaelic word Boireann. This is Ireland's most famous natural garden - an area of limestone rock covering imposing majestic mountains, and tranquil valleys with gently meandering streams. With its innate sense of spiritual peace, an extraordinary array of flora and wildlife, and megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids, the Burren creates a tapestry of colour and a seductively magical aura which few people leave without wanting to experience again.


Stay in Clare:

If you are visiting stay overnight at Gregans Castle, a beautiful old manor house, situated halfway up (or down) Corkscrew Hill, a road that lives up to its name. 



Day 3 and 4:  Co. Galway

brigits garden
So much to see in this county and a selection of Blue Book properties to stay in as well.  Start with a visit to St. Brigit's Garden which takes you on a magical journey through the sacred spiral of the seasons into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the most truly outstanding attractions in Galway.
Themed on the Celtic seasonal festivals, St. Brigit's Garden is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular gardens in Ireland set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows. Its features include a nature trail, ogham trees, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), Roundhouse and calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland.

Moving on to Connemara, which features Ireland's unspoilt countryside at its best is Cashel House where the gardens are so beautiful that you will find it hard to leave. If you are clever you can combine your visit here with one of Kay McEvilly's garden courses, so not only will you get to see some rare and exotic plants and trees but you will also learn a little about soils and pruning etc. so you will know as much as that annoying neighbour who boasts about her garden.


cashel house hotel in the sunshine


From Cashel House travel to Kylemore Abbey. Set in the Connemara mountains, the Abbey is a beautiful neo-Gothic Castle. Built by the English industrialist Mitchell Henry in 1868, visitors to the three reception rooms in the Abbey are touched by its history steeped in romance and tragedy. One mile west of the main Abbey building are the 6-acre (24,000 m2) Victorian Walled Gardens, built by Mitchell Henry at the same time as the construction of Kylemore Castle between 1867 and 1871.


This garden was one of the last walled gardens to be built during the Victorian period in Ireland and is the only garden in Ireland that is located in the middle of a bog. The garden was so advanced for the time that it was even compared with Kew Gardens in London. Huge engineering feats were successfully employed to heat the 21 glasshouses that were originally built to house exotic fruits and plants. These glasshouses were heated by three boilers, one of which doubled as a limekiln, and a complex system of underground hot-water pipes measuring 1,538 meters (5,000 ft) in length.


Uniquely, only plants and vegetables which grew in Victorian times are grown in the garden today. There are walks signposted around the main gardens with details about each of the garden highlights. A shuttle bus runs every 15 mins to the Garden from the Visitor Centre or alternatively, visitors may take the 20-minute woodland walk to reach them.


Gardens of the South West



mustard seed exterior

Ireland is considered by many to be a botanical paradise with its moderate climate, which encourages all kinds of native and non-native plants to thrive.  This is all due to the prevalent south-west winds coming from the gulf stream and which warms the west and south-west of Ireland’s isle. 

As you make your way from the West to the South West, as a lover of flowers and nature, the best place to stay is in the centre of all this botanical magnificence at The Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick.  The Mustard Seed has its own Irish country house garden with its very substantial kitchen garden providing much of the vegetables and herbs on its menu; not forgetting the hen house and run which supplies its own free-range eggs. 


Cork & Kerry

bantry house and gardens

Bantry House and Gardens: The structure of the garden as we know it today, dates back to the second Earl of Bantry’stravels. Both he and Mary, his wife, travelled with notebooks and sketchbooks (now in the Archive at University College Cork) at hand, which helped to transform the small house at home into a “palazzo” comparable to those he had seen on the continent.

From Bantry we suggest a visit to Garnish Island, the fabulous garden island, also known a Ilnacullin, snugly rests in Bantry Bay about a mile (11/2km) from Glengarriff pier, Ilnacullin is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty.



park hotel exterior


While visiting these gardens we recommend you stay nearby in either Blairs Cove or the Park Hotel Kenmare. A little further away but with their own stunning gardens is Carrig Country HouseTo help with your tours we further suggest you visit the West Cork Garden Website for further inspiration. 

A visit to Cork simply has to include a visit to Blarney Castle. The castle was built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland's greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting attention ever since. Blarney Castle is primarily famous for 'Kissing the Blarney Stone' but equally worth exploring are the beautiful grounds around the Castle and Blarney House. This includes parklands, gardens avenues, arboretums and waterways. 


Alongside the castle battlements, the Poison Garden can be found. It contains a collection of poisonous plants from all over the world including Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin and Opium. These are labelled with information about their toxicity, traditional and modern uses. A large number of plants that we now know to be toxic were once used widely as herbal remedies for all sorts of ailments. The old expression 'It will either kill or cure you' could not have been more apt.  Blarney Castle's arboretums and Pinetum contain a collection of specimen trees, many of them rare and unusual such as the  Wollemi Pine Wollemia Nobilis, Foxglove Paulownia Tomentosa, and Tree of Heaven Ailanthus Altissima. The fern garden is a very tranquil place in the heart of the estate. The garden contains over 80 varieties of ferns, all of which are flourishing.


Other gardens of note in the area are Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens and Lakemount Gardens

Stay in Cork:
We recommend staying in Fernhill House and GardensLongueville House, Liss Ard Estate or Ballymaloe House for your garden tour of this part of Co. Cork.

Gardens of the South East

lismore gardens

The Waterford Garden Trail highlights 15 different garden attractions throughout County Waterford. There is a wide variety of gardens open for viewing, ranging from the gardens of the great old houses to smaller gardens.

One of the highlights on the trail is Tourin Gardens, which extend over 5 acres and include a Walled Garden. A fine collection of camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and other shrubs give a beautiful seasonal display of colour. Rare and mature trees include a Champion London Plane Tree. Lovely walks along garden and woodland paths lead to Tourin Quay and a pond with wild duck and other wildlife.

Still, on the trail, Lismore Gardens are set in seven acres within the outer walls of the castle are worth a visit. The gardens are divided into two halves. The upper garden is home to herbaceous borders and working kitchen gardens providing vegetables, fruit and herbs for the castle kitchens. The lower garden has a wide variety of Camellias and Magnolias with early spring bulbs.


Waterford is also home to Mount Congreve Gardens, which consist of 70 acres of intensely planted woodland and a four-acre walled garden. The collection consists of over 3000 different trees and shrubs, more than 2000 rhododendrons, 600 camellias, 300 Acer cultivars, 600 conifers, 250 climbers and 1500 plants, plus many more tender plants.

Stay in Wexford/Waterford:
For your stay in the southeast of Ireland, we recommend you divide your time between Marlfield House in County Wexford and Dunbrody House in County Waterford. Both are historic country house hotels set in beautiful estates.


Gardens of Northern Ireland & The North West


Northern Ireland

mount stewart
Start with a visit to Mount Stewart. Situated on the tranquil shores of Strangford Lough, this impressive house and award-winning gardens tell a unique story. From the manicured formal terraces to the grandeur of the lake, the gardens overflow with the vibrant colour of the rare plants. Next, drop by Rowallane Gardens in Saintfield. An enchanting garden, it was laid out from the mid-1860s by the Reverend John Moore and afterwards by Hugh Armytage Moore, who established connections with botanic gardens throughout the world. Further on in the Northeast is Seaforde Gardens and Butterfly House. The centrepiece is the Maze planted in 1975 with hornbeam hedges. The Tropical Butterfly House features a large flight area with hundreds of exotic butterflies. Continue the tour to The Argory, which was built on a hill and has wonderful vistas over the gardens and a 320-acre wooded riverside estate. 


Stay in Northern Ireland:

We suggest you stay in Newforge House while touring this part of Northern Ireland. Newforge House offers peace and tranquillity in the surroundings of a restored Georgian Country House less than 30 minutes drive from Belfast. 


glenveigh national park

Situated in the Northwest of Co. Donegal, Glenveagh Castle and Gardens encompasses some 16,000 acres in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. Such a great wilderness is the haunt of many interesting plants and animals.


The two major elements of the Garden, the Pleasure Gardens and the Walled Garden were constructed in the late 1880s. The original Victorian Garden layout remains intact. It was for Mrs Cornelia Adair that the gardens were constructed. Mrs Adair employed a Kew trained gardener to lay out the gardens. Some of the planting in the Pleasure Grounds such as the purple maples and the Scots pine trees were planted at this time.  In 1929 Lucy and Arthur Kingsley-Porter became the new owners. They were also keen gardeners and Mrs Porter brought the dahlia known as Matt Armour to Glenveagh.

The last private owner, Henry P McIlhenny began to develop the gardens in the late 1940s with the assistance of Jim Russell of Sunningdale Nurseries and Lanning Roper, the well-known garden consultant. From the late 1950s through to the early 1980's the design and layout of the garden were developed to include the Gothic Orangery, the Italian Terrace, the Tuscan Garden and the development of the plant collection.

Glenveagh is well known today for its rich collection of trees and shrubs specialising in southern hemisphere species and a diverse Rhododendron collection. Displays of Rhododendrons are at their best from late March to the end of May. Displays of colour in the Walled Garden are at their best through the summer months.

We recommend staying in Rathmullan Country House or Castle Grove Country House when making your visit to Glenveagh National Park.