There are some fantastic gardens that are open to the public in Ireland and, if you are planning some trips this Summer, you may want to consider including a visit to some of the gardens listed here - this is by no means a definitive list as there are just so many to choose from, but it does include some of our favourites...
The Organic Centre was established in 1995. It is located on a 19 acres site in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. The aim of the centre is to provide training and education, information and demonstration of organic gardening, growing and sustainable living.
- 2 demonstration gardens – the kitchen garden and the Robin’s garden -show a productive small scale family garden and a community garden run by a group of 21 local people.
- A range of 9 polytunnels of various sizes showing protected cropping on a domestic and commercial scale.
- A wetland sewage disposal system, which was featured on Eco Eye.
- A new compost display area, showing different methods of composting and recycling.
- A willow sculpture area growing every year with new features.
- An orchard with 50 varieties of apples suited to the Irish climate and a soft fruit area, testing hardy varieties.
- A native woodland planted in Winter 2004 under the Neighbourwood scheme.
At present the centre provides over 100 short courses ranging from gardening, food production and healthy cooking to crafts and renewable energy. Participants come from all over Ireland and some from abroad. Major events throughout the year are the Annual Potato Day in March, The Garden Party in July and the Harvest Festival and Apple Day in September.
The Organic Centre is open to the public 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday from March to October.
The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim (071) 985 4338
Knockvicar Organic Garden
Located in Boyle, Co Roscommon. Knockvicar has many events and courses during the year ranging from plant swaps to foraging, pest control, willow weaving and knitting. They are very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and welcoming. From their Facebook page -
'We have 10 polytunnels of varying size, a greenhouse for germination, a soft fruit orchard and outdoors growing areas.
Customers are welcome to come for a look around, & pick up some free organic gardening advice. The produce (certified organic, IOFGA 4091) is sold from the site (see opening hours) and through retailers and restaurants. Customers can buy our fresh fruit and veg, seeds, tools and gardening equipment.
The project employs a team of experienced and inventive gardeners, so we also run a small-scale gardening service. We build polytunnels, help fellow gardeners to start & maintain their plots, we have the equipment and experience to propagate vegetable plants so local gardeners can rely on us.
The Garden is a horticultural-agricultural botanical display: all ages have the opportunity to share in our interests & discoveries, even cucumbers & tomatoes have some peculiarities, not to mention the strawberry spinach… (All schools welcome.)
We look after the local Community Centre in Cleen, and maintain our very own Bog Walk Nature Trail on the edge of Errionagh bog. Based on the Nature Trail we can host field trips for primary and secondary schools. We also hold workshops and training events. But we are here, primarily, to serve the local community, the people of Knockvicar, Crossna, and the rest of Ardcarne Parish. Anyone else is more than welcome.'
Knockvicar Organic Garden, Boyle,
(071) 966 7985
Irish Seed Savers
Located in Scarriff, Co Clare the Seed Savers is a really fab place to visit.
There are 20 acres of beautiful Organic Seed Gardens, Heritage Orchards and Native Woodland Trails. There is also a shop stocking a wide range of seeds, shrubs and flowers. The gardens are wonderful and an inspiration to amateur and professional gardeners alike.
The Irish Seed Savers Association exists as a living testimony to the richness and wealth of the agricultural legacy of our ancestors. The association was founded by Anita Hayes in 1991. They maintain the country’s public seed bank with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of seed.
ISS also conserve and grow heritage apple trees and other fruit tree varieties. There are many workshops throughout the year on various topics to help inform and teach others how to save seeds and grow their own food.
Tues - Fri 9.30am-4.30pm
Sat 12pm - 4.30pm
Great place for a day out - informative and inspiring with really enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff.
Irish Seed Savers Association, Capparoe,
Tel 061 921856/921866
The Glebe (Baltimore, Co Cork) is a vibrant West Cork haven, growing, cooking up, and serving the best of contemporary dining and entertainment. The highly reputed open gardens, established and run by Jean Perry, span 5 acres of coastal grounds and provide the context and much of the produce for the award winning Glebe cafe and restaurant. The Glebe courtyard and amphitheatre hosts special events, live music and performance, as well as weddings and parties all year round. Whether you are a garden enthusiast, a foodie, or looking for an idyllic place for a cup of coffee, the Glebe has something for everyone.
The large ornamental vegetable garden produces a wide range of salads, greens and other vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers, for the café and the family. Combining vegetables with flowers and herbs helps to create a beautiful micro environment, encouraging bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Lovely place for a summer afternoon.
Opening Hours - Wednesday/Sunday 10am - 6pm
Glebe Gardens, Baltimore,
Tel 028 20579
Wells House and Gardens
Located in Gorey, Wexford, there is lots to see here.
Wells House has a stunning Victorian terraced garden, designed by the renowned architect and landscaper Daniel Robertson (responsible for the gardens at Powerscourt house & Johnston Castle among others) between 1830-1845, and recently lovingly restored to his plans, a must see for gardening enthusiasts.
Robertson introduced many formal landscape features at Wells - most notable the Terrace Gardens, Radiating Parterre and Main Avenue. The gardens also boast many heritage trees, amongst them “Champion” Trees meaning that they are the tallest or oldest or largest of its kind in Ireland. There are also 100 acres of woodland to explore.
Activities on site include - clay target shooting, a falconry and archery, animal farm, craft courtyard, woodland sculptures and children’s playground. Last - but not least - the house itself is also a great place for exploring!
Wells House & Gardens
Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford
Tel: 053 9186737
Airfield Estate in Dundrum is Dublin’s only (38 acre) working farm that is open to the public.
Airfield is a charitable organisation, established by the Overend family in 1974, for educational and recreational purposes. With this in mind Airfield has been re-designed to facilitate active learning focusing on food, farming and the land.
The food beds have been planted to excite and enthuse children/visitors to grow food and also to show them how our food is grown and what it looks like before we see it on our plate. The same ethos has been applied to the new farmyard. Here children can see at first hand the animals that provide us with dairy products, meat and clothing materials.
As well as the vegetable garden there are ornamental gardens, woodland and of course the working farm. It is very hands on for children and a great day out for young and old. You can also explore Airfield House and see a lot of personal memorabilia from the Overend sisters - including a 1927 Rolls Royce. There is also an award winning restaurant on site.
Airfield, Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14. 01 969 6666
There are many more gardens worth visiting in Ireland but I am running out of space here! This is a list of Fruit Hill Farms favourites -
Inish Beg, Baltimore, Co Cork
Garnish Island, Glengarriff, Co Cork
Ballymaloe House and Garden, Midelton, Co Cork
Derrynane House, Derrynane, Co Kerry
Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford
Green Barn, Burtown, Co Kildare
Sonairte, Laytown, Co Meath
Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow
Walled Garden, Phoenix Park, Dublin
Strokestown House, Strokestown, Co Roscommon
Birr Castle, Birr, Co Offaly