Posted by: marymarthatours | September 28, 2011

Favorite Irish Gardens

We recently returned from Ireland and a wonderfully successful “Gardens of Ireland” tour.  At least that’s what the tour participants are saying.  Martha and I sometimes get so focused on making sure that everything is going smoothly for everyone else that we forget to have fun ourselves.

But now that I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on our tour, I discover that I had a marvelous time exploring some amazing Irish Gardens.  Here are some of my favorites.

DSCN1648  Ilnacullin Garden on Garinish Island

Ilnacullin Garden is on everyone’s list of must-see Irish gardens and with good reason.  Created out of a blank slate on a tiny island near Glengarriff, this garden is a joy.  After a marvelous tour through the garden with head gardener Finbarr O’Sullivan, I sat alone in the Italian Garden waiting for the sun to produce the perfect photo.  The sun didn’t cooperate so that perfect photo op didn’t happen, but I had a peaceful interlude in Harold Peto’s lovely creation and was revived.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens

Another Irish garden that every gardener wants to visit is at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, made famous by Irish chef Darina Allen.  Even though we weren’t there in prime herb season, the herb garden lived up to its reputation.  What surprised me was the gorgeous perennial long border leading up to the shell house.   Here the end of summer and the beginning of fall joined in a riot of color and form.  Breathtaking.

  DSCN1718  DSCN1729

               The Herb Garden                                 The Long Border

The Exhibition Gardens at Gardenworld  Garden Centre, Kilquade

Imagine being able to go to your local garden center to see 24 different possibilities for your yard, all complete with hardscape and plantings and looking ready to enjoy.  That’s what awaits visitors to the National Garden Exhibition Center at the Gardenworld Garden Centre in Kilquade.  Moving from one garden theme to another, I had trouble deciding which one I liked best.  As a garden designer and former garden center employee, I would dearly love to see this concept take hold in the USA.

DSCN1896    DSCN1891 

           Scents and Sensibility Garden                              Gothic Garden

The War Memorial Garden, DublinDSCN2202

On the morning that we left Dublin, heading for the west and County Clare, we had a bit of extra time.  This little gift of time was filled with a visit to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, a surprise stop for our tour participants and a wish fulfilled for me. 

We had had a taste of the Edwin Lutyens style at Heywood Gardens (another favorite), but here Lutyens’ use of stone and geometry was on a much grander scale and was packed with roses still in full bloom.

Our Ireland tour was filled with wonderful gardens and wonderful travelers.  One of our group summed it up nicely when she wrote, “Wow, What fun!  Let’s do this again”.

(by Mary)

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