Gardens Touring Routes
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More than 30 beautiful gardens are open to visitors to The East Coast and Midlands Region. Some are on the grand scale, with lakes, fountains and classical sculpture – and shaded by giant specimen trees.
Wicklow and south Kildare
County Wicklow is justly known as ‘the garden of Ireland’ on account of its scenery, but it also contains many of the best formal gardens. A drive, between mountains and the sea coast, of 24 km (15 miles) southwards from Bray takes in seven of the finest: Killruddery is almost unique in retaining its 17th century layout and has a beautiful conservatory. Powerscourt occupies a terraced valley with a great classical house at one end and a mountain at the other. The National Gardens Exhibition Centre offers a variety of designs, demonstrating different ways of planning gardens. Victoria’s Way is a sculpture park, presenting 14 works in black granite. Mount Usher is a riverside garden, while Kilmacurragh is woodland, with magnificent specimen trees from the 19th century. The Parnell National Memorial Park is a new garden commemorating the 19th century political leader. Nearby, Avondale Forest Park has a magnificent collection of trees surrounding the leader’s stately home.
The route then heads westwards over the mountains, passing the famous early Christian settlement in the haunting valley of Glendalough, to reach the fertile lowlands of County Kildare. Close to Kildare town, the site of the ancient nunnery founded by St. Brigid, is the complex which includes the National Stud, together with an incomparable Japanese Garden and the newly designed water garden of St. Fiachra. A circuit, totalling 68 km (42 miles) including all these can be completed by going north to Naas and Coolcarrigan, a Victorian garden, lovingly tended by five generations of owners. The journey is short – but two or three days would be needed to do justice to the gardens and other attractions.