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Trip Report Two Unique Gardens in Ireland

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My wife is an avid master gardener and it is my self-assigned responsibility to find outstanding gardens for her everywhere we go. My task was made easier for me on this trip to Ireland by the existence of a number of places well-worth, by her standards, a visit. After all, with so much rain how could Ireland fail to produce a wide variety of beautiful plant life? Rather than subject you to a list of gardens which pleased and wowed the both of us, I’ve selected two for special mention. It is highly unlikely that most of you have heard of either. Neither had we until my in-depth research uncovered them.

* Caher Bridge Garden

About a dozen years ago a transplanted (forgive the pun...or not) Englishman by the name of Carl Wright located an old stone house just next to the Caher stone bridge up a single track road from Murroogh, Fanore, in The Burren in County Clare. He had a sufficiently good eye in recognizing its potential and he bought it. In the time since then he has transformed the grounds into a magical garden with numerous intriguing design features. Do a search argument on Caher Bridge Garden and enjoy looking at all the glowing descriptions and pictures you will find. I don’t intend to embellish on what you’ll find there as the people who have already done so, as witnessed by the many hits you’ll find on Google, have done a better job than I could. The message is that if you love gardens with imagination and creativity, this is one you will want to see if you are ever in that area. It is my belief that it is one garden that is not seasonal-dependent. There will always be something going on there at any time of the year in any kind of weather. Carl wouldn’t have it any other way.

The best part about a visit is that Carl sees visitors only by appointment and personally guides them through a full tour and description of his masterpiece which is always going to be a work-in-progress. All of this is done for €5 apiece. It was one of the best €10 and 90 minutes (we likely overstayed our allotted time but Carl was far too polite to say so) we have ever spent in a garden anywhere and we’ve been in some wonderful ones.

* National Garden Exhibition Centre

The website for this astonishing collection of gardens does an excellent job of describing them but they have to be seen to be appreciated for all their splendor.

http://www.gardenexhibition.ie/

Located in County Wicklow (just south of Dublin) on the grounds of a commercial garden centre (in the US we would call it a nursery) called Gardenworld Kilquade, the centre is very difficult to find. I had to give my GPS the coordinates in order to get there. This, as it was explained to us, is because there are local political interests involved which prohibit proper directional signage to be displayed on the neighboring highway. In any case, as with Caher Bridge Garden, if you love gardens with imagination and creativity, this is a place which merits a visit if you’re in that area. Pay special attention at their website to the elaborate descriptions of their exhibition gardens. Just a visit to their website alone should give anyone with a love for gardens a good fix until they can see the real thing in person as we were lucky enough to do.

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