The stunning gardens of Mount Congreve cover around 70 acres of woodland, a 4-acre walled garden and 16 km of walkways. You could spend an entire day there trying to identify the thousands of different tree, shrubs and plants…and you should.
There are lots of different trails to explore, like the “Bell Gate Lawn,” “Bluebell Walk” and “The Herman Dool Magnolia Walk.” There’s even a kitchen garden where you can discover herbs, fruit trees and vegetable patches.
The history of the estate itself dates back to 1760, when John Congreve enlisted well-known local architect John Roberts to build Mount Congreve house.
Fast forward to 1960 when Ambrose Christian Congreve and his wife Marjorie moved into Mount Congreve following the death of his mother. The couple modernised the house and began extensive work on the gardens.
The Dutch horticulturist Herman Dool was employed by Ambrose as the estate’s head gardener. He and Ambrose worked together to transform the grounds, planting thousands of Magnolias, Rhododendrons, and exotic specimens inspired by Ambrose’s travels across the world. The Dutchman worked at Mount Congreve for almost 40 years and retired in 1999.
In April 2011, Ambrose Congreve was on his way to the Chelsea Flower Show when he passed away. He was 104 years old. His ashes were returned to Mount Congreve and placed in the temple overlooking his gardens and the River Suir below. He kindly left Mount Congreve Estate in Trust to the Irish State, which means we get to enjoy the gardens today.
The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river.
The two men left a legacy of Mount Congreve’s recognition as one of the “Great Gardens of the World.” Up to the very last years of his life, Ambrose Congreve could be found in the gardens dispensing orders and advice relating to his beloved plants.
As well as the beautiful gardens and trails on the estate, there’s a café where you can stop for breakfast or lunch. The Stables Café is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. where you can indulge in fresh, local produce—the chef, where possible, uses fruits, vegetables and herbs from the gardens. You can also book in for afternoon tea in the restored Tack Room (booking required for this).
If you want to bring your furry friend, The Wetlands Walk is a designated pet-friendly space. The walk is located at the entrance to Mount Congreve and dogs should be on a lead at all times. Due to the biodiversity of the estate, the only pets allowed into the main gardens are registered guide dogs.
On Thursdays, you can experience Mount Congreve’s gardens through the eyes of an expert. Between March and September, you can enjoy a guided tour of the gardens. The tour takes about two hours and an expert gardener will share the first-hand secrets and world-class innovative techniques that have been passed down through generations. The tour starts at 2 p.m. every Thursday (weather permitting).
For more information about Mount Congreve Estate and Gardens, see here.