Mount Congreve Garden, created by the late Ambrose Congreve, is one of the great gardens of Ireland and, indeed, of the world. He was greatly influenced by Lionel de Rothschild, a dear friend and mentor in the early years and followed his taste for rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias as the backbone planting of the garden. It is reckoned that there are approximately 2,000 different rhododendron cultivars in the garden, 600 camellias and 300 maples – among many, many other varied trees and shrubs – and these were always planted in large drifts, never as single specimens so that the effect is quite dramatic and impressive.
There are approximately 70 acres of woodland gardens – Ambrose Congreve cleared out the lower layers of a beech/oak woodland and planted beneath – and these look their best in spring to early summer. The Walled Garden and the Pleasure Garden carry on the show through summer and autumn with autumn colour lighting up the woodland again at this time of year.
Although the gardens are only about ten minutes from our home I hadn’t visited during the summer but determined not to allow the season to end without a walk around and this I did yesterday. It brought back to me how much I love this garden and why I have visited so very often over the past ten years – with the kindness of the gardeners allowing me access even during the closed season.
It is one of Ireland’s great gardening treasures. At present, it is in somewhat of a management no-man’s-land. Mr. Congreve left it to the state but that transfer of ownership has yet to take effect. In the interim, the gardeners are working hard to preserve and maintain the gardens and I look forward to the days when better funding will return it to its glory.