Formal or exotic, fenced or wild: the whole island of Ireland is home to wonderful gardens, beautiful all year round, but which begin to be at their best in spring: here’s a list of 10 botanical beauties not to be missed even for a trip before the peak summer season, a great opportunity to discover, in addition, lesser-known areas of the Emerald Isle! And also to do some 100% Irish style shopping: in fact, in many of them you can find interesting handicrafts, an expression of local excellence.
The 10 most beautiful gardens in Ireland
One of Ireland’s top natural attractions, Mount Usher Gardens dates back to 1860. Water plays a central role in the setting, creating a wonderfully idyllic atmosphere. After admiring the gardens, it is worth making a stop at the Avoca store, where you can find candles, household items, scarves, and textiles made in the brand’s famous mill.
Nestled in the Burren’s unique landscape, this award-winning garden is tied to a restored riverside cottage and blends with delicate harmony with its surroundings. Also worth putting on the agenda, staying on the topic of special greenery, is a visit to the Burren Geopark, where the amazing limestone latticework covering its surface gives shelter to 70 percent of Ireland’s native plant species, with plants such as white or golden Irish eyebright, arctic-alpine avensia montana, and metallic blue flowers that brighten the color of Burren grass.
They reached the third place in the list of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world by National Geographic and are simply not to be missed. Spread over an area of 19 hectares, the gardens are characterized by many different styles ranging from formal Italian garden to exotic Japanese garden to spacious terraces and forest paths. The gardens are, moreover, dotted with elegant statues and exquisite water features. Don’t miss Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland.
The enchanting gardens of Altamont, in Ireland’s Ancient East, have been praised for their veracious simplicity. The 16-hectare estate includes a lake surrounded by rare trees and rhododendrons, an arboretum, the Bog Garden and the Ice Age Glen. Highly recommended: take time to explore the nearby town of Carlow, founded by the Normans in the 13th century.
Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, this walled garden has been transformed from a vegetable garden into an idyllic space within the Mountcharles estate. A short drive away is St John’s Point Lighthouse, a great place to stay overnight and enjoy the spectacular views of the Atlantic and the tranquil surroundings.
Lismore Castle Gardens, believed to be the oldest continuously cultivated gardens in Ireland, are located within the defensive walls of the historic castle and offer spectacular views of the Blackwater Valley. Added value: the contemporary art gallery housed in the west wing of the castle, which displays works by local and international artists.
Overlooking Bantry Bay, the gardens at Bantry House are simply stunning. They are developed in the Italian style on seven terraces, with a magnificent mansion located on the third terrace. Horticulture enthusiasts should also visit the Garinish Island Garden in Bantry Bay, known for the richness of plant shapes and colors and the presence of exotic flowers from Chile and New Zealand.
With its imposing cast-iron Palm House, the Botanic Garden is part of Belfast’s Victorian history. The Palm House and Tropical Ravine house an extraordinary collection of exotic and tropical plants. Outside, an extensive rose garden and colorful herbaceous borders make it a popular place to relax and socialize. Right next to the gardens is the award-winning Ulster Museum, which houses interesting exhibits on art, history and natural science.
Rowallane is one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems: a beautiful mix of formal and deliberately somewhat wild spaces, filled with plants from around the world, the gardens offer breathtaking views of the County Down countryside. Throughout the year they organize a rich program of events, mindfulness sessions, lectures, guided walks and poetry readings.
A perfect example of a walled garden, this beautiful space is located within the grounds of historic Glenarm Castle on the beautiful Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. Notable areas include The Mount, The Yew Circle, and The Hot Border, which is tinged with all shades of red, pink, and orange. And given their uniqueness, why not also take advantage of the splendid view by staying overnight in one of the Ocean View capsules and enjoying the beautiful surroundings? Also not to be missed is the small store that houses products from the castle’s agricultural estate and surrounding area.
More info at: www.irlanda.com