Exploring 27 Unique and Beautiful Gardens of Ireland
The gardens of Ireland are known for their beauty and diversity. The Emerald Isle is home to a wide variety of gardens, from formal Victorian ones to wildflower meadows, providing something for everyone no matter what the season.
Any sort of gardening is weather dependent and the Irish garden is no different. Ireland is blessed with a moderate climate and plenty of rain that gives the beautiful gardens of Ireland a head start to the rest of the world.
Spring comes early in Ireland and in the months of February through to April spring shows off its beauty in the extensive drifts of snowdrops, primroses and daffodils. Many areas of the country have microclimates that fill the Irish garden with rare plants and tropical species.
As an example, the Burren in County Clare a moonscape of limestone grows some of the rarest and most beautiful wildflowers including Alpines, edelweiss, gentians, and even orchids.
Ireland’s weather is thanks to the Gulf Stream that wraps around the country making some areas practically tropical and you will often see palm trees, tree ferns and even Japanese banana trees. Given the cool wet climate on the Wild Atlantic Way, you will see massive Rhododendrons and banks of Gorse with bright yellow flowers and thorny stems.
- Exploring 27 Unique and Beautiful Gardens of Ireland
- Where to find the gardens of Ireland
- National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
- Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
- Wells House and Gardens, County Wexford
- Heywood Gardens, County Laois
- Loughcrew Gardens, County Meath
- Powerscourt Garden, County Wicklow
- Mount Usher, Ashford, County Wicklow
- Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens, County Kildare
- Killruddery Gardens, County Wicklow
- Birr Castle Desmesne, County Offaly
- JF Kennedy Memorial Park and Arboretum, New Ross, County Wexford
- Bantry House Gardens, County Cork
- Fota Gardens & Arboretum, County Cork
- Garnish Island Gardens Ilnacullin, Bantry Bay County Cork
- Kylemore Abbey Walled Garden, County Galway
- Brigit's Garden, County Galway
- Caher Bridge Garden, County Clare
- Enniscoe Country Estate House and Gardens, County Mayo
- Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park
- Derreen Gardens, County Kerry
- Oakfield Park, Count Donegal
- Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal
- Fabulous Irish gardens of Northern Ireland
- Botanic Gardens and Palm House, Belfast
- Antrim Castle Gardens & Clotworthy House, County Antrim
- Glenarm Castle Walled Garden, Glenarm, County Antrim
- Castle Ward Gardens, Strangford, County Down
- Mount Stewart, County Down
- Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, County Down
- Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Royal Hillsborough, County Down
- Florence Court Kitchen Garden, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
- Where to find the gardens of Ireland
Where to find the gardens of Ireland
The first stop for any enthusiastic gardener should be the National Botanic Gardens located in Dublin.
National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
The National Botanic Gardens are located around 3km from the city centre near Glasnevin Cemetery. The Gardens are a 40-acre site that includes stunning historic wrought iron and glasshouses, over 20,000 species, and the National Herbarium and all visits are free.
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
One of Dublin’s best-kept secrets the Iveagh Gardens dates back to 1865 when it was owned by the Guinness family. Situated in Dublin City centre near St. Stephen’s park the gardens had some of their original features restored in 1995.
There are fern trees in the gardens and a mini copy of the Hampton Court Maze of boxwood in London with a sundial. The gardens are a mix of English and French styles and contain a rosarium and a cascade. The gardens include a remarkable collection of roses, sunken lawns with fountains, and woodland and rustic grottos. There are also rockeries and archery grounds along with an American Garden and entrance is free.
Wells House and Gardens, County Wexford
Explore 450 acres of enchanting woodlands & gardens, including fairy & Gruffalo walks, an animal farm, a playground, Mogue’s walk & much more at Wells House and Gardens.
Spend a day with the elegant backdrop of the 17th-century Victorian House and a history dating back to the days of Cromwell and the famine. Stroll the formal gardens and arboretum, or walk the 450 acres of woodlands with a fairy walk and Mogue’s Walk. Tickets are per Adult. €9 and includes entry to the woodlands and walks.
Heywood Gardens, County Laois
A walled garden by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll was completed in 1912. Near Ballinakill you will find 18th-century landscape gardens with lakes, woodland and formal gardens.
There is an oval-shaped sunken garden with a central pool and grand fountain and the gardens are linked by a terrace that originally ran along the front of the house which is no longer standing.
Loughcrew Gardens, County Meath
Loughcrew is located in County Meath and it is an estate made up of 200 acres of picturesque rolling parkland complete with a stunning house and gardens, and on the hills above you will find the stunning Loughcrew Cairns.
The house and gardens date back to the 17th century and include a medieval motte, a fairy trail, and Saint Oliver Plunkett’s family church. The gardens are filled with yew and lime avenues, terraces, herbaceous borders and a water garden. There are extensive lawns and you can take advantage of the garden’s organized walks.
Powerscourt Garden, County Wicklow
From Dublin, you can take a trip to Wicklow to the third most beautiful garden in the world – Powerscourt. This phenomenal garden features 47 acres of gardens and Ireland’s highest waterfall.
The Gardens at Powerscourt are the great attraction of the place. With stunning views of Sugarloaf Mountain, they stretch over 47 acres and offer a breathtaking blend of formal gardens, statuary, fountains, lakes, Japanese gardens, a Pet Cemetery, the Pepperpot Tower, and sweeping terraces, secret hollows and rambling walks. Powerscourt Waterfall, it is Ireland’s tallest waterfall at 121m (398ft.) and is 6km from the Main Estate. It is set in one of Ireland’s most beautiful parklands at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. These stunning falls were used in the History Channel’s TV epic drama The Vikings.
Entry fee is adult: €11.50 plus a ticket to the Waterfall is another €6.50.
Mount Usher, Ashford, County Wicklow
From Powerscourt head to the Mount Usher Gardens which is around a 20+ minute drive. This incredible garden has over 5,000 plant species and was voted by Gardeners World Magazine as the best garden in Ireland in 2010. A bonus is the Avoca Food Market where you can have a cuppa and scone or pick up some items to take back with you.
The garden’s entry cost is €10.00 this stunning place was created as a wild garden and has the largest collection of conifers in Ireland. There are also extensive collections of Camellias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons places in stunning woodland areas with small waterfalls, bridges and wildlife from Herons and Kingfishers to Hedgehogs. Like Powerscourt, it also has a pet cemetery.
Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens, County Kildare
The Irish National Stud & Gardens in Co. Kildare is located about an hour’s drive from Dublin on the Ancient East route. The Stud celebrates Ireland’s love of horses and horse breeding. If you get lucky the stables may be open to seeing the horses up close and in the spring during foaling time you may see a baby future race winner.
The Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens are renowned and the finest of their kind in Europe, the gardens were created between 1906 and 1910. and laid out by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru.
St. Fiachra’s Garden was created to celebrate the Millenium at the Irish National Stud. St Fiachra is the Patron Saint of Gardeners and the garden seeks to capture his love of nature. There is a strong focus on rock and water.
Purchase an admission ticket to The Irish National Stud & Gardens and experience the magic for yourself. One ticket grants you access to the Stud, Irish Racehorse Experience, Japanese Gardens and St. Fiachra’s Garden An adult ticket is €17-19 euros.
Killruddery Gardens, County Wicklow
A family-owned magnificent 800-acre estate in co. Wicklow Kilruddery is a sustainable, bio-diverse farm that includes flowering woodland, painterly formal 17th-century gardens, a high-hedge sylvan theatre, long ponds and a walled garden. For the kids, there is a Faerie Woodland Village and a Giant Sandpit in the Apple Orchard.
Established by the fourth and sixth Earls of Meath, the Gardens are now lovingly overseen by the current 15th Earl of Meath and Lord and Lady Ardee. The twenty acres of grass, 3.5 miles of hedges, endless flowering borders, ancient trees and the Walled Garden with a wide variety of produce that serves Killruddery’s restaurant and café. House tours are available at various times of the day, Admission fees: Adult €6.50.
Birr Castle Desmesne, County Offaly
The Gardens of Birr Castle are home to an abundance of rare plants and within the 50 hectares, you will find over 5000 species of plants, 50 Champion trees and gorgeous walks, rivers, waterfalls and some incredible scientific displays.
There is a Hornbeam cloister walk a stunning pergola with wisteria, old roses and an incredible delphinium border. The river walk includes a double bridge crossing and an ancient whole stone used for handfasting.
General admission is €10 per adult and includes access to 120 acres of Parkland, 10km Walkways, a Telescope, a Science Centre, a Gift Shop, a playground & multitude of Trails.
JF Kennedy Memorial Park and Arboretum, New Ross, County Wexford
Dedicated to the American President JF Kennedy this memorial park encompasses 252 hectares on the summit and southern slopes of Slieve Coillte and contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all over the world.
There are 200 forest plots grouped by continent. The gardens also grow 500 different rhododendrons and many varieties of azalea and heather, dwarf conifers and climbing plants.
There is a picturesque and jaw-dropping panoramic view from the summit of the hill. A visitor centre presents exhibitions of JFK and the Arboretum and entrance is free to the centre and the gardens.
Bantry House Gardens, County Cork
The Earl of Bantry was widely travelled and admired the great French and Italian gardens he had visited and worked to re-create his impression of those gardens in Ireland. He created 7 terraces with the house on the third and four more rising at the south side of the house itself.
The four terraces are dissected by a massive staircase called a Hundred Steps which begins at the parterre and ends at the woodland ringed with majestic Scots pines. There is an incredible sunken garden and a fountain in the centre of the parterre. The grounds are surrounded by fields with a small stream leading to a walled garden and walkways.
Fota Gardens & Arboretum, County Cork
Fota Island is the only island in Ireland with its own railway station and Fota House is the finest example of Regency architecture in Ireland. This Irish garden has a unique microclimate and the name “Fota” comes from the Irish “Fód te” meaning warm soil. An arboretum
In addition to the Fota Gardens and Arboretum, there is the Victorian Fernery, Walled Pleasure Gardens, Ornamental Pond and Orangerie. From 1997 to 2000, the walled Fruit and Vegetable Garden was converted into an orangery with a formal Rose Garden there is also an Italianate sunken garden.
With extensive walls, a large selection of climbers has been planted. Also within this garden is a collection of Irish-bred daffodils. Fota is famous for its trees, most of them planted by the Smith-Barry family from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. The collection also includes many tender plants that could not be grown at inland locations, with many examples of exotic plants from the Southern Hemisphere. A tour of the House and gardens will cost Adult Admission €10.00.
Garnish Island Gardens Ilnacullin, Bantry Bay County Cork
The Irish Arts Review says that the Italian Gardens of Garnish Island is one of the most important gardens in Europe. The gardens include an 1805 Martello Tower, a Grecian Temple, an Italian tea house and temple, walled gardens and a clock tower.
You can get to the island by ferry and there is a charge for access. To visit the Gardens and Bryce House the entry fee is €5.
The main formal garden links the sunken Italian garden, with the Garden House and the lawns were originally used for tennis and Croquet. The formal garden is built on a gradually sinking bog basin.
Parallel to the formal garden is a less formal area with the Grecian Temple and Happy Valley a grass glade which runs up to the Martello Tower.
Kylemore Abbey Walled Garden, County Galway
The real highlight of visiting Kylemore Abbey is strolling the 6-acre Victorian Walled Garden. The buildings are beautifully restored and there are woodland walks, gurgling streams, nature trails and play trails for the children. Your ticket to Kylemore includes a shuttle bus that is caught behind the Visitors Centre and it takes you down to the gardens.
The Kylemore Abbey gardens are divided by a mountain stream. The eastern part of the garden includes the formal flower garden. Comprised of roughly 6 acres, the Garden is divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream. The eastern half includes the formal flower garden, which only contains authentic Victorian plants and flowers. There are glass houses the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. A bothy, by the way, is a small shelter that was built for labourers and gardeners to take shelter in.
Kylemore is considered a Heritage garden that only displays and grows plants from the Victorian era. The walls are built from Irish granite, and Scottish red stone and they protect the garden from all manner of inclement weather and wandering sheep.
If you buy your tickets on-site for the Abbey, it will cost you €15 or 13.30 online and a family with up to 6 kids up to 10 years costs €28.00 and €26.60 online.
Brigit’s Garden, County Galway
Brigit’s Garden sits in 11 acres of woodland and wildflower meadows with 4 gardens representing the Celtic Festivals: Samhain Winter Garden, Imbolc Spring Garden, Bealtaine Summer Garden and Lughnasa Autumn Garden.
There is an ancient ring fort or Fairy Fort as it is known, a thatched roundhouse and crannog and the largest calendar sundial in Ireland. The Calendar Sundial is the largest sundial in Ireland and it tells the date as well as the time. The gardens were designed by Mary Reynolds, who won a Gold Medal in the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002. Ticket prices range from €8 to 10 euros depending on the season.
Caher Bridge Garden, County Clare
The Caher Bridge Garden is found in the Burren a beautiful region of karst limestone with rare wildflowers including gentians, burnet rose, bloody cranesbill and mountain aven.
Caher Bridge has collections of unusual varieties of bulbs and plants, over 200 types of snowdrops, and 150 varieties of hosta, daffodils, crocosmia and daylilies. A river runs through this 9-year-old one-acre garden, winner of the Viking Garden award: a perfect place to discover the possibilities of gardening in the wild. Tickets cost €5.00 per adult.
Enniscoe Country Estate House and Gardens, County Mayo
The Enniscoe Country Estate is where you can stay in a Georgian house and enjoy all the facilities of fine accommodation. The Enniscoe Irish gardens include an organic walled garden, a Victorian garden, and 19th-century pleasure grounds on the edge of Loch Conn where you can also fish for brown trout.
The Estate also houses a family history research centre, affiliated with the Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF), offering a genealogical service to people tracing their ancestry in North Mayo. There is a museum that displays an array of household artefacts and local farm implements with an exhibition area hosting yearly events.
Admission to the Estate is for adults €8.00, children €3.00 and admission to the research centre is free.
Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park
Muckross is a Victorian house and woodland garden in spectacular scenery set in the Killarney National Park. This nineteenth-century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes.
During the 1850s, the Herberts who owned the house undertook extensive garden work in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition and created the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and Stream Garden.
The Garden Restaurant at Muckross is an ideal venue for those who wish to enjoy a relaxing meal in the scenic surroundings of Killarney National Park. Set against the spectacular backdrop of Torc and Mangerton Mountains, the Garden Restaurant enjoys magnificent views across the old Victorian Walled Garden area. Admission to Muckross House and Gardens is €12.00 for both the house, gardens and farm.
Derreen Gardens, County Kerry
Derreen Gardens in Kerry is over 20 hectares and 12 km of stunning footpaths full of rare and exotic plants and it takes its name Derreen or Little Oak Wood from woodlands. In 1870 the owner Lord Lansdowne began an ambitious project to transform the countryside around the house into a luxurious woodland garden.
He planted 400 acres of woodland to shelter a collection of shrubs and specimen trees which were then being brought back from plant hunting expeditions in the Himalayas and elsewhere.
Derreen is famous for its collection of rhododendrons and throughout the garden, the numerous paths pass by conifers, old oak trees, bamboo groves and towering bamboo and tree ferns.
Derreen is currently undergoing the biggest planting programme for a hundred years adding to the existing collection of rare and exotic trees and shrubs with new plants, some only recently introduced to the country. Admision is €9 per adult, €4 per child.
Oakfield Park, Count Donegal
Oakfield Park is a privately owned estate and railway, which has won several National awards for the restoration of its gardens and buildings. Sitting in a lush landscape of parklands, lakes, mature woodlands, walled gardens, ancient woodlands, sculptures and wildflower meadows Oakfield is a delight for both adults and children.
A narrow-gauge railway takes you on a trip around the estate with its lakes, Castle Folly, the Tree Circle with the Orb and the magnificent Long Sleeper sculpture on the Spiral Mound before returning to the station.
The upper gardens are 50 acres of formal gardens that include a Nymphaeum, a lake, and a pond these are private gardens but are open for guided tours on the weekends in season.
Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal
Glenveagh National Park, in Donegal, is home to a castle and gardens surrounded by the wilds of the National Park. Famous for its Italian Terrace, and the Tuscan Garden, the Castle also has an outdoor swimming pool, and a walled garden and the walks through the gardens will take you by Tree Rhododendrons, magnolias, ferns, and all manner of hostas, and azaleas.
Behind the castle lies an ornamental potager, with a traditional herbaceous border running through the centre, ranks of vegetables contained by neat box hedges, a dolphin fountain and a Gothic Orangerie.
Beside the house, there is a small Italian garden, its classical busts and clipped formality in complete contrast to the exotic profusion of the Pleasure Ground, with its swirling masses of hostas, astilbes and rodgersia, and exotic shrubs.
The Belgian Walk is lined with huge terra cotta pots of azaleas, a dramatic flight of 67 steps climbing the hillside which is now roped off. The gardens are open all year round and the minibus from the parking area costs €3, you can add a tour of the castle itself for €5.00.
Fabulous Irish gardens of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has its fair share of stunning Irish gardens and here are a few you can explore.
Botanic Gardens and Palm House, Belfast
Established by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society in 1828 the gardens located near Queens University feature a stunning rose garden and long herbaceous borders. There are rare oak trees planted in the 1880s The glass and iron Palm house built by Richard Turner who built the Kew Gardens Palm households an incredible collection of tropical plants and in the cool wing you will find geraniums, fuchsia, begonia and all manner of scents and colour.
The Tropical Ravine has been restored with double glazing to protect the tropical plants and it is split over 2 levels with a reception area on the ground floor. Entry is free to the gardens and Victorian glass houses and the areas have been made accessible for sight and hearing-impaired visitors.
Antrim Castle Gardens & Clotworthy House, County Antrim
The gardens at Antrim Castle are over 400 years old and feature The Clockwork Garden commissioned as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in 2022. The “Clockwork Garden” sees the garden “come to life” with a mechanical performance every 15 minutes when trees will “dance” and other elements will turn and move.
There’s also a Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond gardens to explore. The gardens are designed around the magnificently-refurbished Georgian splendour of Clothworthy House within which you’ll find the garden heritage exhibition.
Glenarm Castle Walled Garden, Glenarm, County Antrim
One of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens Glenarm Castle Garden dates back to the 18th century. This is the ancestral home of the McDonnells, Earls of Antrim, who once resided at Dunluce Castle.
Originally created to supply the Castle with its fruit and vegetables, The Walled Garden is filled with colour throughout the seasons and the garden is open from Easter until the end of September. You can attend a colourful Tulip Festival in May and Northern Ireland’s biggest family festival of music and food in July, to the magical and magnificent Christmas Experience in December. Tickets cost £15 per adult and you can even book a stay at the Glenarm Barbican.
Castle Ward Gardens, Strangford, County Down
Overlooking Strangford Lough Castle Ward is an unusual Castle as the front has a Gothic façade and the other a classic Palladian front. Tickets for Castleward are £13.20 for adults.
Castle Ward’s garden also features two very distinctive designed landscapes. Stroll through one of the best examples of a Victorian garden in Ireland and explore the 17th- and 18th-century pleasure grounds to see the historic Pinetum, rockery and Palladian water temple.
The Victorian garden has a formal terracing and a sunken parterre planted with over 4000 bulbs. The pinetum was built to house exotic trees and shrubs from around the world and contains Lady Anne’s Temple which overlooks the canal.
Mount Stewart, County Down
Mount Stewart is one of the world’s top ten gardens. The gardens are spectacular, and renowned for their plant collections and the originality of their features. Tickets to see the gardens cost £11.37.
The garden at Mount Stewart is truly unique and includes a Shamrock Garden, Sunken Gardens, Italian gardens, a Spanish garden along with a Rose and walled Garden and the intriguingly named Mairi Garden.
The blue and white flowered Mairi Garden was designed to reflect the Women’s Legion a voluntary group of women founded by Lady Londonderry during WWI. The Sunken garden is based on a sketch from the garden notebooks of Lady Londonderry and the Shamrock Garden has a carefully sculpted topiary and a Shamrock hedge where you will see creatures from Irish mythology.
The Italian gardens contain statues of figures from Greek mythology and the Spanish Garden was inspired by the Gardens of the Alhambra. The Dodo Terrace reveals the story of the Londonderrys and contains many concrete stone statues and ornaments. The Dodo refers to Lady Londonderry’s faith who was caricatured as a Dodo after serving for 35 years in the House of Commons in London.
Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, County Down
Rowallane Garden is one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems of a garden. The gardens are set on 50 acres and were designed in the mid-19th century. Here you will find a mix of formal and informal garden spaces to explore. Journey through the walled garden, rock garden and wildflower woods to discover the secret gardens within the garden. Tickets cost per Adult, £8.80.
You can wander the Pleasure Ground, Woodland Walk, Rock Garden and other trails and pathways here. Honey, soap and pottery are also made on-site here by artisan producers inspired by their surroundings, and the products can be found in the on-site shop and tea rooms.
The gardens are a mix of formal and informal spaces with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. The trees, plants and shrubs range in age, size and colour and create a spectacle throughout the year.
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Royal Hillsborough, County Down
Hillsborough Castle is Northern Ireland’s only royal residence and has over 100 acres of ornamental lawns, woodlands and waterways, as well as vibrant flower beds and captivating kitchen gardens. Tickets to the gardens cost per Adult: £10.00.
The Walled Garden dates back to the 18th century and is a large, four-acre site historically used to produce fruit, vegetables and flowers for the castle. The Glen is a Victorian garden with magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons, deciduous azaleas and a spectacular Embothrium which is a large shrub covered in deep red flowers from early March to late May. In the summer months, the giant ferns create a shady area by the stream to rest for a moment before finding The Grotto. Within the grotto you will find a statue of Ossian and stones which tell the story of the legendary Irish poet.
Florence Court Kitchen Garden, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
Florence Court enjoys a majestic countryside setting and even gave its name to the nearby village of Florencecourt. Located around eight miles from Enniskillen, Florence Court is one of the most beautiful Georgian houses in Ulster, nestled against the wild mountain backdrop of Benaughlin and the Cuilcagh Mountains where you will find the Stairway to Heaven hike.
The house and demesne is one of the most important Georgian Houses (18th century) in Ireland and holds a fascinating collection of Irish Furniture and some of the best Rococo plasterwork in Ireland.
You can enjoy glorious walks around the grounds which include a pretty walled garden, holiday cottage, sawmill and ice-house. In the gardens, you will find the famous Florence Court Yew – reputedly the ‘parent’ of all Irish yew trees.
Since March 2014, the National Trust has been returning the walled garden at Florence Court back to its former glory as a 1930s-styled Kitchen Garden. There are now two good garden trails here, Red and Blue, which guide you through the highlights of the gardens, including the Pleasure Gardens, the Ice House, the Rose Garden and the Kitchen Garden.
The gardens of Ireland provide a great opportunity to experience the history and culture that the country has to offer. From formal gardens to informal cottage gardens, there is something for everyone. The picturesque scenery and lush foliage make it a perfect place to spend a day exploring the natural beauty of Ireland. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or just want to relax in nature’s embrace, the Gardens of Ireland are definitely worth a visit!
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