From formal to exotic, and walled to wild, there are gardens galore to enjoy across the island of Ireland. Here are 10 botanical beauties.
1 Mount Usher Gardens, County Wicklow
One of Ireland’s top natural attractions, the gardens at Mount Usher date back to 1860. Water plays a central part in the layout creating a wonderfully serene atmosphere. After viewing the gardens, stop by the Avoca shop on site to browse candles, homewares, and scarves and throws woven in its famous mill.
2 Glenarm Castle & Garden, County Antrim
A fine example of a walled garden, this beautiful space is situated in the grounds of historic Glenarm Castle on the stunning Causeway Coast. Notable features include the Mount, the Yew Circle and the Hot Border, which is awash with bright reds, pinks and oranges throughout the season. Why not stay overnight in one of the castle’s Ocean View pods and enjoy the wonderful surroundings.
3 Caher Bridge Garden, County Clare
Set in the unique landscape of the Burren, this award-winning garden is based around a restored riverside cottage and blends sensitively with its surroundings. Make sure to also visit the Burren Geopark where the craggy limestone terrain is a haven for 70% of Ireland’s native plant species such as the white and golden Irish eyebright, Arctic-Alpine mountain avens, and the metallic blue flowers of Burren grass.
4 Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow
Voted number three in the world’s top 10 gardens by National Geographic, Powerscourt is simply unmissable. Stretching over 19 hectares, the gardens feature a range of styles from the formal Italian and exotic Japanese gardens, to sweeping terraces and woodland trails. The gardens are dotted with elegant statuary and exquisite water features. Be sure not to miss the Powerscourt waterfall, the highest in Ireland.
With its striking 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 meeting place. Right beside the gardens is the award-winning Ulster Museum, which has fascinating exhibitions of art, history and natural sciences.
6 Altamont Gardens, County Carlow
Enchanting Altamont Gardens in Ireland’s Ancient East have been praised for their honest simplicity. The 16-hectare estate features a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons, an Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen. Take time to explore the county town of Carlow nearby, founded by the Normans in the thirteenth century.
7 Salthill Garden, County Donegal
Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, this contemporary walled garden was transformed from a kitchen garden into an idyllic space within the Mountcharles demesne. A short drive away is St John’s Point Lighthouse, a great place to stay the night and relish the spectacular Atlantic views and peaceful surroundings.
8 Rowallane Garden, County Down
Rowallane is one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems. A mix of formal and informal spaces, filled with plants from around the globe, the gardens offer breath-taking vistas across the County Down countryside. A range of events take place throughout the year from mindfulness sessions to talks, guided walks and poetry readings.
9 Lismore Castle Gardens, County Waterford
Said to be the oldest continually cultivated gardens in Ireland, Lismore Gardens are set within the defensive walls of the historic castle and offer spectacular views of the Blackwater valley. While there, visit the contemporary art gallery housed in the west wing of the castle, which presents the work of local and international artists.
10 Bantry House and Garden, County Cork
Overlooking Bantry Bay, the gardens at Bantry House are stunning. They are laid out in the Italian style over seven terraces, with the magnificent house sitting on the third terrace. Keen horticulturalists should also visit the island garden of Garinish in Bantry Bay, known for its richness of plant form and color and featuring exotic flowers from Chile and New Zealand.