At Altamont Gardens

The gardeners at Altamont have achieved that almost impossible aim of keeping a garden fresh, vibrant, changing and yet perfectly in tune with the style and ethos of its previous owner. So often we hear the comment of gardens such as this – bequeathed to the state, or in U.K. to the likes of the National Trust – that they become gardened to a formula; that they all begin to look alike; that the corporate policy supersedes the personal taste of the previous owner and that they no longer resemble a “person’s garden” but become simply another garden venue, often little more in spirit than a tearoom with garden beside.

The late Mrs. Corona North, who died in 1999, left her garden at Altamont, Ballon, Co. Carlow to the state and it is now run by the Office of Public Works. The present state of the garden is due without any doubt to the fact that the head gardener at Altamont, Paul Cutler, worked for several years with Mrs. North and so was perfectly familiar with her approach and her style and has remained faithful to it over the years since her death so that we can visit the gardens nowadays and find the same atmosphere we experienced when we visited in Mrs. North’s time. Paul is due to retire at the end of the summer, a great loss to the gardens – and the little world of Irish snowdrops! – and I can only thank him for his work at Altamont and the great pleasure it has give us over the years and wish him all the best for his retirement when, no doubt, he will continue to garden away!

We visited the gardens earlier in the week and I’ll let the photographs – lots and lots of them – speak for themselves, beginning with the main area of the garden immediately to the rear of the house:

The walk around the lake is always a pleasure, generally a quieter part of the garden, more secluded and with beautiful views across the lake and back to the house:

It’s always worth stepping out to enjoy the beauty of the river bank – the River Slaney – down through the woodland and back up the 100 steps:

13 thoughts on “At Altamont Gardens

  1. One of my favorite gardens Paddy. I only discovered the river walk a couple of years ago as it always seemed to be “out of bounds” for various reasons. I was completely enchanted with it when I finally got to walk it, even the 100 steps! Hoping to revisit it before too long!

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    1. The walk to the river is regularly closed in winter as the area would be wet and slippery and fear of accidents prevent is being open. Always worth a visit – spring is also beautiful with all the snowdrops in flower.

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  2. It is so much nicer than this ! We will be heading there when we safely can … also has the advantage of being close to Eileen and John’s place! Ax

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  3. This garden has been on my ‘must visit’ list for years! (The one time that I did make it down there, the winds had picked up so badly that they had to close.) So this garden tour is much appreciated until I can get there in person! I did buy two beautiful hellebores from Altamont this winter – my way of bringing the garden to me! 🙂

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    1. Robert Millar’s garden centre always stocks excellent plants and his selection of hellebores is especially outstanding. The gardens are worth a visit!

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  4. What a beautiful spot, I think the walk around the lake would be my favorite part. It still amazes me that a garden like this was built just to entertain one family.. and probably to impress a number of visitors! but it’s great that everyone can enjoy it now.

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    1. Yes, a family garden begun by the father of the last owner. It is a very pleasant garden with a beautifully relaxed atmosphere.

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