The pick of the crop this autumn
The gardens of Carlow are a spectacular show of nature. Blessed with a lush, gently undulating landscape, the county is speckled with grand estate houses, formal gardens and extensive parklands and forests waiting to be discovered this autumn. They make for a really great day’s entertainment in relaxing and spacious surroundings. There are so many great places to explore, from the fabulous Altamont Gardens and Plant Sales Area to the gothic mansion and walled gardens of Duckett’s Grove and the stunning Huntington Castle and Gardens. Then there’s Ireland’s largest garden centre, Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven in Leighlinbridge, the inspiring Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow Town and a number of owner gardens where visitors can meet and learn from some of the best gardeners countrywide.
As Ireland re-opens and we begin enjoying and exploring again, we understand that guests and customers need to know they’re safe. Watch out for the many premises in County Carlow displaying the COVID-19 Safety Charter which reassures you that recommended safety and cleaning guidelines are being adhered to, and that staff members have completed essential hygiene and safety control training.
Visit www.carlowgardentrail.com for more details including information on great accommodation options at www.carlowtourism.com/specialoffers. Make sure to check for current opening times on the individual websites and social media pages of each premises.
Altamont Gardens and Altamont Plant Sales
Start off your day with a visit to Altamont Gardens – this gem is often referred to as the most romantic garden in Ireland. You can’t fail to be charmed by the glistening lake and weaving paths which at this time are adorned with an amazing variety of trees, waiting to be discovered. Grand oak trees over 200 years old are spotted around the estate, while Irish yews line the formal Broad Walk. An unmissable highlight of a visit to Altamont Gardens is Altamont Plant Sales, with an extensive range of herbaceous perennials and one of the finest collections of shrub roses, available year-round.
VISITORS TIP: The delightful on-site café in Altamont Plant Sales provides comfort and refreshments outdoors, in beautiful surroundings, so make sure to include some time for a relaxing stop there. Open until the end of October.
OPEN: January 1st – December 31st.
From June – September: 9am – 6.30pm, 7 days per week
October 1st – 31st 9am – 5pm, 7 days per week
November 1st – 30th, 9am – 4.30pm, 7 days per week
December 1st – 31st, 9am – 4pm, 7 days per week
Huntington Castle and Gardens
Clonegal, Co. Carlow Y21 K237
A fifteen-minute drive from Altamont Gardens is Huntington Castle and Gardens where visitors can step into another world. This 17th century house is a treasure trove of historical architecture and objects, while the gardens have so many interesting aspects. From the French lime trees bordering the avenue to the ornamental lawns and fish pond, each is a destination worth visiting in themselves and the perfect place for a stroll. Once you have explored the gardens, head back to the castle where a guided tour of the house provides a window into both its fascinating past, and the lives of the family who call the castle home today. Originally built in 1625, many generations of the family added various extensions and details, resulting in the creation of a truly unique and interesting building. Afterwards take a well-earned break in the tea rooms with a range of refreshments and light lunch options.
VISITORS TIP: To get the full Huntington experience stay the night in one of their beautiful castle rooms. Winner of Georgina Campbell Breakfast of the Year Country House 2020.
OPEN: weekends in October and for the Halloween mid-term break.
Delta Sensory Gardens & Garden Centre
Strawhall, Estate, Carlow
Delta is an oasis of peace and tranquility, with sixteen interconnecting gardens set on 2.5 acres. From the Waterfall Garden to the Rose Gardens and Willow Garden there’s something for the whole family to discover at every turn. Consistently voted the number one thing to do in Carlow by Trip Advisor, the gardens have so much to offer during every season of the year.
VISITORS TIP: The gardens contain numerous water features including the famous Kugal, one tonne of pink marble floating on a cushion of water. Café Thyme attached to the gardens offers delicious take away lunches, tea/coffee and snacks while the garden centre stocks a range of shrubs, perennials and seasonal plants.
Duckett’s Grove Historic House and Walled Gardens
Kneestown (near Carlow Town), County Carlow R93 RF80
Once a grand mansion, Duckett’s Grove is now one of the most photographed ruins in the country. And it’s not hard to see why; it’s magnificent towers and turrets make for an impressive silhouette. Once the centre of a vast estate, Duckett’s Grove was home to the Duckett family in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1933, the interior of the mansion was sadly destroyed by a fire. What remains is a stunning Gothic exterior and two beautiful interconnecting walled gardens. In recent years the gardens have undergone an exciting restoration. Restored paths and the repaired sunken bridge plus plantings of oak, lime, hazel, spindle and laurel rekindle the spirit of the Georgian Pleasure Grounds.
VISITORS TIP: Follow the heritage interpretation panels and lLearn about the origins of the Duckett family who first arrived here in 1695, the subsequent expansion of the estate and building of the Gothic mansion and its eventual sad demise. Discover the stories of the family who lived here and the people who worked for them. Beautiful wild flower meadows in full bloom at present.
OPEN: Gardens and ruined mansion daily, daylight hours.
Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven
Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow R93 P9F4
Now that you’ve seen some wonderful gardening planting it’s time to put it all into practice by getting some top-quality plants and remember now is the perfect time to plant a tree of your choice that you will enjoy for years to come – pay a visit to this five-star garden centre near Carlow Town at the end of your trip. A twenty-minute drive from Kneestown, via Carlow Town and the R448 takes you to Arboretum, Ireland’s largest garden centre located on the outskirts of Leighlinbridge Village. This family-run business is a complete shopping experience – in addition to the five-star garden centre visitors will find beautiful interior furnishings, quirky gift ideas, ladies’ fashion and kitchenware. Take some time out to relax and reflect on your trip over some delicious food in the award-winning Rachel’s Garden Café – where all food is made on site, using local where possible.
VISITORS TIP: Afterwards visit Arboretum Inspirational Gardens, which feature a stunning display of colourful plants, shrubs, fruit trees and ornamental features. Designed to inspire visitors on planting schemes and solutions, the gardens offer endless ideas that can be easily recreated in gardeners’ own homes. Families will enjoy exploring the African mud hut and spotting the friendly koi who reside in the Arboretumpond while there is an excellent children’s playground and a maze adjacent to the Inspirational Gardens.