Thursday, 3 May 2012

Houses, Castles & Gardens of Ireland - Sprucing up the Tea Rooms

Guest Blog from Sara Waldburg of Houses, Castles and Gardens.

All around this island grand houses and castles that open to the public are drawing back the shutters, sprucing up the tea rooms and memorising histories both fact and legend from long, long ago!   It’s all about being ready for the first visitors of the season.   They are in for a treat this year because property owners and managers have been planning their events schedule for months now and finally the websites are starting to fill with an array of activities that makes you dizzy with anticipation … I want to go to them all but here are just a few to entice us from hibernation.
Powerscourt Gardens.
Powerscourt Gardens at Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow is an ideal site to start.  Powerscourt has a range of events stretching as far as June.   Gardeners could be there once a week to learn about growing vegetables and flowers, taking photographs or joining a guided tour of the magnificent trees on the estate in the company of tree expert, Michael Carey. 
Not to be missed either is Carol Bone’s demonstration of Spring Flowers taking place in the Pavilion Garden Centre near the car park.   Carol is the Chairperson of the Association of Irish Floral Artists and her arrangements are extraordinarily creative, yet, she is able to impart that ‘have a go’ feel as soon as the demo is over!   I discovered some lovely gardens to visit on the AOIFA website which presumably specialise in plants suitable for all kinds of flower arrangements.  

Mount Stewart
Our Motorways in Ireland are so good now that day outings and short weekend breaks are a perfectly feasible way to get to know parts of this island once considered too much trouble to be worth the effort.  Now some of the most handsome examples of architecture and landscaped gardens are to be seen in Northern Ireland. In early May there will be the Tulip Festival at Glenarm Castle on the Co. Antrim coast and at Mount Stewart we have already missed an event called ‘Rise & Shine’ when the doors were opened on the visitor season with demonstrations and handy hints for spring cleaning in your own home.   I can smell that beeswax polish from here!
Kilruddery House & Gardens
So where can you get an overview of what is taking place in these glorious properties throughout this island?   Houses, Castles & Gardens of Ireland has recently redeveloped its website to reflect the wonderfully diverse range of activities taking place at properties such as Lismore Castle, Brigit’s Garden, the Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore Abbey and Killruddery House & Gardens to name a few.  
Lismore Castle
Of course, these are the better know ones but other jewels in our crown are the delightful Deepwell, Coolcarrigan and Primrose Hill which are as much pleasure gardens of today as was the original intention when garden design took off in the sixteenth century.  

See the Houses, Castles and Gardens website for more lovely ideas for days out this Summer.