Five favourite gardens near Dublin.

Living in Dublin’s city centre I feel very lucky that there are many wonderful squares, parks and gardens to stroll in, not to mention the National Botanic Gardens and the Phoenix Park, one of Europe’s largest walled city parks.

But sometimes, I feel the need to escape, to something a little wilder perhaps, with a glimpse of the mountains or the sea, and these are five of my current favourite, yet contrasting, gardens all an easy drive from the city centre. In many cases, they can be reached by public transport, do check their websites below.

Mount Usher Gardens.

Quite rightly described as “Ireland’s most romantic garden”, Autumn is a wonderful time to stroll in its 22 acres with its Arboretum, a Maple walk and specimen Liquidamber styracifluas erupting into amber and russet, or pause awhile as the river Vartry tumbles over cascades or swoons under bridges.

The river Vartry flowing through Mount Usher Gardens

The river Vartry flowing through Mount Usher Gardens

There is an intangible quality of peace which permeates one of my very favourite gardens, the planting is naturalistic, or Robinsonian, in style …

The river cascade, Mount Usher Gardens

The river cascade, Mount Usher Gardens

… with much to please the keen plantsperson as well as the novice.

Happily there’s an excellent Avoca restaurant overlooking the garden.

Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co Wicklow, open 28th Feb – 31st October.

More information here.

Their website here. 

Powerscourt Estate and Gardens

This hardly needs an introduction, it was voted the Third Best Garden in the world recently by “National Geographic “, and has been used as a film location on numerous occasions.

Spring in the walled  garden, Powerscourt

Spring in the walled garden, Powerscourt

A formal Italianate style garden, it has dramatic terraces leading down to the Triton lake, but what makes it exceptional, is the contrast with the breathtaking natural scenery of the Wicklow Mountains.

Classical statuary contrasting with the natural landscape of the Wicklow mountains

Classical statuary contrasting with the natural landscape of the Wicklow mountains

A garden of contrasts – tight formality leading to woodland walks, classical statuary and a Japanese garden. Take good walking shoes – there is much to explore … and some nice shops and an Avoca café for afterwards!

The Gardens at Powerscourt, Co Wicklow, are open year round.

More information here. 

Their website here. 

Ardgillan Castle

I mention Ardgillan Castle in my favourites list, as entry is free and there is much to see, and the extensive grounds give lovely views of the Irish Sea and the Mountains of Mourne “as they sweep down to the sea”.

Ardgillan Castle and its lovely setting on Dublin's north coast

Ardgillan Castle and its lovely setting on Dublin’s north coast

The herbaceous borders back onto lovely old walls along the Yew Walk and further ahead is the Rose garden, spectacular and scented in the summer months.

The Rose Garden at Ardgillan

The Rose Garden at Ardgillan

There is an extensive walled garden, woodland walks and a Tearoom overlooking the gardens.

Ardgillan Castle gardens, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, open daily.

Read more  here.

Their website here. 

Burtown House and Garden.

This has been a real find for me this year, a beautifully planted garden by a family of artists, with much to discover including their wonderful collection of sculptures.

Blue moon iii. Catherine Greene. At Burtown House.

Blue moon iii. Catherine Greene.
At Burtown House.

The gardens are an absolute delight with impeccable planting and yet, one feels like an honoured guest in a family home. Formal borders, peppered with sculptures, colour themed planting, woodland, stream and meadows. And the most wonderful welcome and food in the tearoom.

The gardens at Burtown House

The gardens at Burtown House

Burtown House and Gardens, Athy, Co Kildare, open April 12th to September 29th Thurs -Sun & Bank holidays.

Read more  here.

Their website here.

Malahide Castle.

In north Co Dublin, 22 acres of garden created by plantsman Lord Milo Talbot await, the walled gardens have been described as a small Botanic garden, with an excellent collection of exotic plants.There is a beautiful Victorian greenhouse, and pond and gardens backed by the turrets and old walls.

The Victorian greenhouse, Malahide Castle

The Victorian greenhouse, Malahide Castle

In the parkland surrounding the Castle, ancient trees guard the paths like Ents from a Tolkien novel.

Ancient trees in the parkland

Ancient trees in the parkland

There is much to explore on a tour of the Castle itself, dating back many centuries and home to the Talbots, who played a leading part in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne which was to shape Ireland’s, and England’s, history. The family no longer live there as Lord Milo Talbot and his sister Rose died childless.

Their website here. 

A final note. Lists of recommendations are very subjective but I have tried to offer contrast here – the large operation that is Powerscourt contrasting with the free entrance and family-oriented ambiance of Ardgillan. Each of the five gardens will reward time given to them for exploration, off their beaten tracks.

12 thoughts on “Five favourite gardens near Dublin.

  1. A gorgeous selection of gardens. I would love to visit everyone. But most especially Malahide because my grandmother had a pet magpie called Malahide, probably because of this poem by GERALD JOSEPH GRIFFIN, or a song associated with it.
    THE joy-bells are ringing,
    In gay Malahide,
    The fresh wind is singing
    Along the sea-side;
    The maids are assembling
    With garlands of flowers,
    And the harpstrings are trembling
    In all the glad bowers…….

    Like

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