East to West Gardens

Birr-Castle-Demesne-Gardens

Gardens on the East to West of Ireland tour

The Dillon Garden.

Located in the stylish and historical heart of South Dublin, The Dillon Garden needs seeking out. However, for those “in the (horticultural) know”, it is a must see land mark.

The garden has been created over a period of forty years by husband and wife, Val and Helen Dillon.

It is an ever evolving work of horticultural wonders. Filled with fascinating plants and features, such as Helens unconventional dustbin planters and the slightly exotic Avery of canaries.

The splendid central canal reflects the seasonal changes of the colourful displays. Agapanthus, Dahlias, Stachys and any amount of Dieramas.

To try and describe the results of this husband and wife’s’ handiwork is futile. Try to imagine the perfect match of the Irish and Scots heritage of art, creativity and discipline with a big dash of the rebel, and you may be able to picture the scene.

Coolcarrigan.

This is a fascinating combination of parkland, arboretum and garden. For six generations it has been and continues to be in the family hands of the Wilson Wrights.

Harold Hillier worked together with Robert’s father to assemble a singular collection of trees and interesting shrubs.

Each season has its features of interest. Different areas of this 15 acre parkland become the focus of attention as the season progresses. A varied collection of Mahonias, Daphnes, Magnolias and Embothriums are followed by Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

There are herbaceous borders nearer the house and exotic fruit are to be found in the Victorian Glass House. These supplement the more unusual features such as Fagus sylvatica pendula aurea.

Many a meandering path reveals vistas of lake and wild flower meadow. These are some of the more recent features that have been developed.

Bellefield House.

In the heart of the Irish midlands is the utterly delightful garden of Angela Jupe. It is essentially a Georgian farmhouse and walled garden which is bursting with charm and character.

This has been achieved through the interesting combination of the old and the new. An eye for the artistic and another for tradition.

Hellebores, Tulips, Irises, Old Roses and Peonies are some of the gardens favorites but there are many more.

Birr Castle and Demesne.

This remarkable Irish Demesne, (pronounced Domain) spans over a 150 acres. It incorporates, a lake, rivers, bridges, terraced garden and formal gardens. There are also some wonderful historic engineering features all created by the Parsons family themselves over successive generations. Not least of these is “The Leviathan,” constructed by the Third Earl of Rosse around 1841.

A science museum helps to illustrate some of the wonderful achievements of the Parsons family. At limited times, tours of the Castle are also conducted.

The grounds are home to many of Europe’s Champion Trees, some historical specimens introduced by the great collectors such as Henry and Wilson and introductions from generations of Parson Plant collecting, in the Far East and China.

The late Anne, Countess of Rosse herself made many contributions to the layout of the formal gardens. She also added to the vast collection of Magnolias, bringing seed from her original home Nymans, in Sussex.

Woodville Walled Garden.

For those with an interest in Irish literature this garden is a landmark on the Lady Gregory and Yeats Heritage Trail. The garden has been attractively restored and features all that one would expect to find at the home of a Georgian country gentleman. A mix of the kitchen garden with some refined additions such as the fountain and dovecote. There are espaliered fruit trees and herbaceous borders as well as the enthusiastic owner Margarita and her cousin, Marie, who have revived this quaint historical gem.

Ardcarraig.

This garden is a truly unique maze of enthralling discovery. Lorna MacMahon has worked relentlessly to create this wonderland in what was once nothing but rock, bog and hazel scrub.

Every magical corner of the garden has an individual story and significance. It is a wonderful combination of the tamed and the natural, the wild and the nurtured, the native and the exotic.

Lorna allows visitors to her garden to raise funds for the Galway Mental Health Association. If you are lucky enough to visit at the right time of year you will see her famous collection of Blue Poppies.

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden.

This Connemara pass was a well-known hunting retreat for the Gentry in the 1800’s.

It was also widely accepted at the time that the area would never lend itself to any profitable form of agriculture due to the extremes of wind and weather let alone the remoteness of these granite mountains. This makes what is found at Kylemore so remarkable. A veritable palace and the recreation of a Victorian Garden.

Although only two of the original twenty one glasshouses have been restored one has to be awe struck by sense of what was. It is thanks to the Benedictine Nuns, who have been in residence since the 1920’s, that we are able to enjoy this splendid garden in this astounding setting.

Belvedere House, Gardens and Park.

Traversing the mild mannered Midland landscape we discover the splendidly set Belvedere House and Gardens on the edge of Lough Ennell.

The parkland features the eccentric creations of the Earl of Rochfort who built Belvedere in 1740. The Jealous Wall and the Gothic Arch remain intact and are now in the charge of Westmeath County Council. They now tell the story of the “Wicked Earl” and his motivations. It is however hard to imagine how such a mean spirit could survive in such serene surroundings. Belvedere having been described by Terence Reeves- Smyth as,

“Probably the finest small scale landscape park in Ireland.”

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