Mount Congreve Gardens, Co Waterford is a must visit for garden fanatics, who can linger a little longer by booking a stay in its new Georgian Gate Lodge …
Mount Congreve is officially one of the “great gardens of the world” and comprises 70 acres of woodland gardens and four acres of walled gardens within a 140-acre estate located just ten minutes outside Waterford city. As such it is a must-visit, particularly at this time of year when its planting of over 100 scented Rhododendron Lady Alice Fitzwilliam are in flower and more than 50 varieties of Pieris are in bloom along its woodland walks – their foliage are in shades of salmon-pink to fire-red. Then there’s the Herman Dool Magnolia Walk (named after a former head gardener), which overlooks the River Suir. It’s idyllic and informative – the collection of rare specimens and plants at Mount Congreve is expanding due to the work of the garden curator Michael White, who has followed in the footsteps of Ambrose Congreve, the original owner of Mount Congreve House, who was passionate about plants.
An afternoon visit leaves an indelible impression – enhanced by the completion of a €7m redevelopment project. Visitors now arrive through the main front doors of the house into the foyer where an immersive audio-visual exhibition of the garden and family history is inspiring. From the foyer, visitors can catch a glimpse into the large drawing room with its rare Chinese hand painted wallpaper, probably dating from the 1790s – cited as the only existing wallpaper of its kind in the world.
A further treat has been added to the facilities with the restoration of a Gate Lodge, one of the three on the estate, dating from 1775, which can now be booked for overnight stays. Inside this five-bay property, guests will be charmed by its stylish interiors, which mixes antique details (18th-century French day beds, classic wing-back velvet chairs and a vintage stove) with contemporary fittings (Smeg appliances, Bushbuck barbecues and swish galley kitchen). There are two double bedrooms (with original Louis XVI beds) and a comfortable living space with a posh Gin Bar featuring Mount Congreve Woodland Gin.
Guests staying at the Gate Lodge are given “the keys to the gardens” which they can explore and enjoy after hours. Guests can also take their pets to stay – the new wetlands walk is a dog-friendly route within the gardens and there’s also direct access to the 45km Waterford Greenway. A welcome hamper is provided on arrival filled with goodies including Mount Congreve Estate honey, Flahavan’s oats and local organic eggs. Guests can also dine at the Stable Café, where they will find a plot-to-plate menu featuring produce from the Mount Congreve Kitchen Gardens. Afternoon tea, served in the Old Tack Room, is recommended.
Need to Know: The Mount Congreve Gate Lodge is available for adult-only bookings from mid-April onwards. Rates are from €195 per night with a minimum of a two-night stay; www.mountcongreve.com.