Mount Usher Gardens
Ashford, County Wicklow, Ireland.
This garden, covering 22 acres (8.9 hectares) is described as a “Robinsonian Style” Wild Garden. A unique space filled with magnificent, towering tree specimens and thick shrubbery with meandering solid pathways through which you may explore the woodland, water garden and sit and relax to the sounds all around you drawing on all your pleasurable senses.
The garden is divided in two by the Vartry River that runs the length, flowing gently through the garden cascading over shallow weirs creating therapeutic sounds to heighten your experience embodied here in nature. The river is also home to the Kingfisher and the elusive Dipper which, if you stay still and quiet, you may be fortunate to get a fleeting glance of one or both of these elusive birds on their hunting trips. Planting began here in 1868 by Edward Walpole, the garden’s founder, and has been developed over the years expanding the plant species and using only organic methods for control. No chemicals are employed.
The purpose of my visit in May of this year was to catch the colourful displays of the Azealia.
The garden has built up a reputation for these stunning blossoms, so petit and colourful, filling their space with blanket colour and what could be described as “delicate finery”.
The bluebells were competing for space with the grasses, but were still beautiful creating a vivid blue hue in their shaded abode highlighted as the sun rays fall on them through the tree tops. The non-bordered paths that meander throughout the garden are inviting and encourage you to explore further.
On entering the garden and walking to the right was a summer house where you can sit and gaze across the river to the family house. It was around 9am, the sun was low, the strong light highlighting the “Japanese Maple” trees creating a fire like appearance behind the dark cover in front (Cover picture). Over the green grass area and under these trees you can see the original house from where a woollen mill operated and later a corn mill, but now the residence of the owners of this magnificent garden.
Strolling on, you are now among the giant trees such as Chillian Barberry, Chinese Coffin Juniper, Corkscrew Hazel, New Zealand Red Beech. Further on towering over the garden are the silvery look of the huge Eucalyptus Tree, the tallest tree of it’s kind in Ireland.
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Crossing the Vartry River on one of the foot bridges, a pretty view up and down the river, the flow broken by the shallow stepped weirs and the scene divided by the bar of silvery cascading water, flanked on both sides by rich foliage, weeping trees and rhododendron.
Once over the bridge you are entering into the Eucryphia Collection area; Rhododendron, Indian Horse Chestnut, Magnolia, Chilean Beach and Weeping Brewer Spruce to name but a few. Along the Palm Walk we can now see the attractive architecture of the Jay family home, blending sympathetically into this paradise woodland.
Skirting the house brings you to the water garden, called the island, a wet area crisscrossed by small man made streams, small shrubs, ponds with reeds and more exotic trees from around the world like the Himalayan Birch, a Chinese species apple Hupeh Crab, Monarch Birch, Japanese, Tanekaha, a primitive tree rarely seen outside New Zealand, Rhododendron and American Sweet Gum.
Following the walk along the river a Large Magnolia delavayii, planted in 1918, a Chinese evergreen and the sound of the river cascading over the stone weirs seemed to tie in the nature, the natural surrounds and this abundance of plant species all surviving together in this wonderful garden. As I crossed “Penelope’s Bridge” at the extreme top of the garden and headed back towards the entrance through a planted garden, with manicured grass areas, from where I moved out of my abstract space back into the world we know.
I dropped into the “Avoca Café” on the way out for a cuppa and a piece of fresh homemade cake to relax and reflect on the wonderful experience I just had.
Address: Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, County Wicklow, Ireland.
Contact: +353 (0)404 40205
Web Site: mountushergardens.ie
Gardens Open All Year Round
Winter Opening Hours 10 am – 5 pm (Winter hours start on October 1st, 2020)
Summer Opening Hours 10 am – 5.30 pm (Summer hours start on March 1st, 2021)
(last entry to the gardens is 4.30 pm)
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