Design, In the Garden

Irish Gardens and their Signature Details

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It was 2003 when I was last in Ireland, with the Atlantic Botanic Garden. So taken was I with the diversity of garden design and breadth of plant material (sighting my first Meconopsis, the brilliant aqua Himalayan poppy!) that I stated I would return each year. But, we know how those well-meaning vows can get lost in life’s realities…

This trip was shorter and included a stay at the brilliantly renovated, and dreamy, Ballyfin (which will deservedly be the subject of its own post). And because it was only four days and nights, I had to refine my selections and look at all the myriad offerings with a sharp and discerning eye. But let me say upfront… Ireland well deserves a consideration, especially if you are a garden enthusiast.

Powerscourt Estate

County Wicklow is home to many exceptional gardens. The statuary and walls of the Powerscourt Italian walled garden (also in the featured image above)  include the intricate pebble work terraces.

And feature the two-hundred and forty year old Bamberg Gate (from the Cathedral in Bamberg, Germany).

The 1740 grotto in the Japanese garden is made from fossilized sphagnum moss, taken from the banks of the nearby river Dargle.

As was the custom of the period, the traveling aristocaracy brought home any manner of fine statuary and ironworks collected from across Europe.

Irish National Stud’s Japanese Garden

Designed between 1906-1910, the Garden is deservedly world-renowned, a small jewel where one would least expect to find it.

What is a tranquil Japanese garden without maples and a small waterfall?

Stepping along each moss-rimmed stone in this small creek is its own form of meditation.

A red punctuation within the green serenity of the garden.

Killruddery House

Killruddery House has been home to the Earl of Meath since 1618. Their elegant Orangerie was built in 1852; its decorative stone crenellations rimming the building were copied from the Countess’s tiara…which, rumor has it, the family sold to pay for this addition to the property.

The Clock Tower, 1820. The thirteenth Earl of Meath, an eminent amateur horologist, built a free pendulum clock powered by water and successfully engineered by 1909.

Botanic Garden of Ireland

The exceptional garden boasts a collection of trees that have me green with envy for both their diversity and age.

Of course, I had to take a picture of my favorite fall flower…dahlias, planted in a seemingly mile-long crescent.


Garden designer Jim Reynold’s inspired new water feature at Ballyfin has me “imagining the possibilities.”

Mount Usher

Mount Usher includes 4,500 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants, many of which are rarely seen growing anywhere else in Ireland.

Fun sharing this quick trip with you…

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

7 thoughts on “Irish Gardens and their Signature Details

  1. Breathtakingly beautiful Ireland!
    You captured its heart in your superb photography and delightful commentary!
    Would you consider orchestrating tours?

  2. Oh, my! Beautiful! I never knew there was such a nice Japanese garden in Ireland! …and those zinnias are stunning! Great light striking them, too, in just the right way! You always get the BEST picture shots, Betti!

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