Trip idea: great gardens of Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

Get ready to lose yourself in the riotous colour, lush foliage and quirky charm of Ireland's great gardens

Blessed with a mild temperate climate, fertile soil and maybe just a little bit of magic, Ireland is a plant-lover's paradise. The sheer variety of gardens you encounter as you travel around the island will beguile even the most exacting gardening enthusiast. Tidy city gardens planted with verve and imagination, formal gardens built on an epic scale, wild gardens, walled gardens, sub-tropical gardens, even Japanese gardens – each one is uniquely beautiful and each has its own story to tell. Come with us and take a stroll through Ireland's glorious gardens.

Great gardens of Ireland

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Dublin

Go green and get wandering through the many historic gardens dotted around this colourful city.

A driving 22 mins
National Botanic Gardens, County Dublin
National Botanic Gardens

Botanical bliss

At the heart of Ireland's horticultural history lies the Botanic Gardens, a place of pilgrimage for gardeners in Glasnevin, Dublin city. Admire exquisitely restored glasshouses, explore Victorian plant houses, a Palm House and a labyrinth of flower-filled borders and tranquil wooded walks at this urban oasis.

B
Iveagh Gardens, County Dublin
Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens

Iveagh Gardens has acted as a cultural centre for Dublin’s citizens since the 19th century when for a time the space was owned by the Guinness family. Positioned right at the heart of Dublin’s thriving commercial centre, the gardens blossom in a cascade of colour. Check out the exotic tree ferns that create a sense of wonder in the Secret Garden, while a miniature copy of London’s Hampton Court Maze is another must-see.

Come at festival time

Explore this enchanting beauty during June, and take in some exquisite food and a welcoming atmosphere at Taste of Dublin, one of Ireland’s premier foodie festivals.

Mount Usher Gardens, County Wicklow

Ireland's Ancient East

Get ready to fall in love with the wild woodlands and scenic trails of Ireland's Ancient East’s celebrated gardens.

C driving 57 mins
Irish National Stud, County Kildare
Japanese Gardens

East meets west

Located beside the Irish National Stud, Ireland’s most prestigious spot for thoroughbred horse breeding, County Kildare’s Japanese Gardens are a fine example of botanical beauty on Dublin's doorstep. Be dazzled by an array of exotic plants, cherry trees, stone lanterns, tunnelled pathways and an ancient fir tree amidst an explosion of colour at this stunning homage to eastern culture. Follow the tranquil pathways and explore an ethereal haven at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East.

D driving 1 hour, 5 mins
Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow
Powerscourt Estate

A garden party

Known as the Garden County of Ireland, Wicklow is where you’ll find 47 acres of gardens so impressive that they have been voted the third best in the world by National Geographic. Let your imagination run wild at Powerscourt Estate and Gardens amongst the lakes, valleys, walled gardens and secret hollows of a vast and historic estate. Don’t forget to climb to the top of Pepperpot Tower for sweeping panoramic views, and, while you’re here, why not pay a visit to Ireland's largest waterfall located on the grounds of the estate?

If you have more time

Founded in the 1860s, Mount Usher Gardens enchant and intrigue in equal measure – pop into the nearby Avoca café for some great local produce after your ramble. And, just a short drive away, you’ll find the scenic gardens and a delightful Tea Room at Kilruddery House, one of the great houses of Ireland.

E
Wells House and Gardens, County Wexford
Wells House and Gardens

Magic and wonder

Put on your comfortable shoes and take a walk through a stunning Victorian terrace garden and beautiful woodlands at Wells House and Gardens. A must-see for gardening enthusiasts, you’ll also discover magical happenings at Wells Fairy Trail amidst the lush green countryside of County Wexford. Drop into the old stables that have now been converted into a Craft Courtyard – a great place to pick up handmade trinkets – or try some locally sourced artisan produce at Mrs Stone’s Restaurant.

Come at festival time

Visit during the August bank holiday weekend for Carlow Garden Festival and explore the large selection of garden trails on offer. A particular highlight is a riverside ramble amongst rare snowdrops at the wonderfully atmospheric Altamont Gardens.

Bantry House & Gardens, County Cork

Wild Atlantic Way

Slip beneath the surface of the Wild Atlantic Way and discover its ethereal and ever-changing gardens – and a world of adventure.


F driving 5 hours, 3 mins
Garnish Island, County Cork
Garnish Island

Garden of Eden

It's been called Ireland’s Garden of Eden and is known to horticulturists all around the world. Take the ferry from the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff and discover Garnish Island, a garden island of rare beauty. Located off the scenic Beara peninsula, Garnish Island is home to a colony of seals as well as the famous subtropical woodland gardens. Before leaving, climb the stone steps of the Martello Tower, an original feature of the island dating from 1805, where you’ll be rewarded with inspirational views of Bantry Bay and the mountains beyond.

If you have more time

Just a stone’s throw away in the garden paradise of West Cork along the Wild Atlantic Way lie the seven terraces and stately estate of Bantry House and Gardens.

G driving 4 hours, 10 mins
Kylemore Abbey, County Galway
Kylemore Abbey

Picture perfect

Its landscape is famously wild and rugged, but the Wild Atlantic Way also boasts some of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland. Set against the backdrop of the Connemara mountains, the Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey allows visitors to feel like intrepid explorers. Wander through the green corridors and explore this vibrant garden’s treasures: see bananas and grapes grow in glasshouses, and delve into the wild gardens and meandering woodland walks.

If you have more time

Discover more gems along the Connemara Garden Trail. Or before arriving in Connemara traipse through a collection of beautiful gardens on the Lough Derg Garden Trail. The arched gateway and beautiful stone walls at Knappogue Castle and Gardens are a particular highlight.

H
Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal
Glenveagh National Park

A romantic vision

Glenveagh National Park, in north-west County Donegal is home to a castle and gardens unlike any other you’re likely to encounter. Famous for their Tuscan Garden, Italian Terrace and 67 steps, these characterful gardens act as the perfect counterpoint to the wild untamed Irish landscape of the national park that surrounds them. Tree rhododendrons and magnolias grace the woods, while the Walled Garden is packed with fruit, vegetables and herbs.

If you have more time

There are plenty of green retreats along Donegal’s Garden Trail on this picturesque stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way – pop into a hidden world surrounded by native woods and moorland at Glenalla House, or take a trip on a diesel and steam train through the beautiful woodlands of Oakfield Park.

Glenarm Castle, County Antrim

Northern Ireland

As you journey to the fantastical landscapes of Northern Ireland, you’ll discover magnificent gardens set in impossibly picturesque locations.

I driving 1 hour, 55 mins
Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Florence Court

Fascinating flora

Green-fingered visitors should make a beeline for 18th century Florence Court to find inspiration from its spectacular gardens and flourishing flora. Take a gentle stroll around the forest park and pleasure grounds on the Blue Trail, or take some time to tackle the Red Trail through native Irish woodland. Trust us, the spectacular views across the lakeland county of Fermanagh are ample reward for walkers who explore this lush landscape.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME

Take a boat to beautiful Devenish Island and, just like the ancient Celts, Christian monks and Vikings, fall in love with this lush green isle on glistening Lower Lough Erne.

J driving 26 mins
Belfast Botanical Gardens, County Antrim
Belfast Botanic Gardens

A romantic escape

Belfast’s Victorian Botanic Gardens have been enjoyed as a city sanctuary since they were first opened in 1828. Wander the grounds at your leisure and admire the geraniums, fuchsias, begonias and 150-year-old ferns dotted around this romantic spot. A sense of imagination has turned these gardens into a wonderland of horticulture: the garden’s Tropical Ravine houses banana, cinnamon and orchid plants, while at the Palm House you’ll find tropical plants and exotic birds of paradise.

Come at festival time

Visit Belfast during July for Rose Week, a celebration of the spectacular Rose Garden at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park.

K
Rowallane Garden, County Down
Rowallane Garden

Ancient tranquility

In picturesque County Down, you’ll find the historic walled garden of Rowallane. This wonderfully wild haven is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. It’s a riot of colour: spectacular splashes of herbaceous plants, shrubs and bulbs combine to excite the senses. After admiring an extensive collection of azaleas and rhododendrons – as well plants and trees from North and South America, Japan, China, Tibet and New Zealand – stop for a brew in the tea room in the old farm stables.

If you have more time

The mild climate beside Strangford Lough in County Down and the imaginative planting of Edith, Lady Londonderry have produced an astonishingly varied garden at nearby Mount Stewart.

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