Where To Go Blossom-Chasing This Weekend - The Gloss Magazine

Where To Go Blossom-Chasing This Weekend

This bank holiday weekend, wrap up and head to one of these pretty gardens to admire the springtime blooms and blossoms…

Plants and trees have always inspired artists and poets and are now inspiring a new generation of photographers and Instagrammers – the hashtag #cherryblossom has garnered almost ten million posts on Instagram. In Japan, cherry blossom season is a full festival with daily announcements in media. However, there’s no need to travel that far to see some spectacular blooms.

Here’s where to go for a springtime stroll and also find a good cuppa afterwards:

Birr Castle, Co Offaly

For bloom chasers, the Demesne is well worth a visit any time of year, but for frequent visitors, spring and early summer is a favourite time with one of Ireland’s finest private collections of magnolias in bloom, and the cherry blossoms appearing in a riot of pastel colour. In March, the camellia walk bursts into flower, alongside acres of daffodils, bluebells and hellebores. Also showing early signs of flower are the rhododendrons and the lilac in the formal gardens. For those looking for the more native ground-based plants, the demesne has an abundance of wild garlic, wild snowflake, heathers and one of Ireland’s finest wildflower meadows which will be in its full glory by mid-June. During the Easter holidays, the Castle is also running several “Silly Science Camps” for children and there is an Easter Quest as well as the option of visiting Ireland’s tallest treehouse and seeing the famous telescope. Don’t leave without refuelling at the Courtyard Café. www.birrcastle.com

Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens, Co Kildare

Not only the home of equine royalty, the world-famous Japanese Gardens are far more than a visual treat. They provide comfort to the soul – as designed by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. Their aim was, through trees, plants, flowers, lawns, rocks and water, to symbolise the “Life of Man”. Birth, childhood, marriage, parenthood, old age, death and the afterlife are all brought to mind as guests wander through the gardens, which are a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures. Of course, the cherry blossoms are a highlight. For those who want to learn more about Japanese culture, the annual Japan Hanami Festival, organised by the Embassy of Japan, takes place this year on Sunday April 28 at Farmleigh House. www.irishnationalstud.ie

Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Garden, Co Waterford

These authentic Japanese gardens reflect the life and travels of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) who grew up in Ireland and achieved fame in Japan for his incomparable descriptions of the Japanese people, its customs and culture. The garden includes Victorian, American and Greek gardens in addition to the Japanese gardens which are defined by their beauty and tranquility. www.lafcadiohearngardens.com

Airfield Estate, Dundrum, Dublin

This 38-acre working farm will be buzzing this weekend. It’s home to six acres of diverse garden spaces ranging from an ornamental garden to an extensive organic certified food garden. It provides plenty of scope for all the family and over the Easter weekend there is an impressive line-up of activities for children to enjoy – from craft sessions to Sheepdog trials. Adults, meanwhile, can wander the grounds for garden inspiration or enjoy a coffee in Overends Kitchen. www.airfield.ie

Lismore Castle Arts, Co Waterford

The gardens have just opened at Lismore and collectively covers ten acres. They are divided up into three distinct parts – the Reilig Garden, the Upper Garden, and the Lower Garden and are the oldest cultivated gardens in the country. The lower garden was mostly created in the 19th century for the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Meandering paths lead you through this informal setting of trees and shrubs and out onto open lawns. The stately yew avenue in the heart of the garden is much older than the garden itself. From the spring flowering magnolias and rhododendrons through to the later flowering shrubs and borders there is always something in bloom. Art also plays a very important role here and there is an impressive collection of contemporary sculptures (by artists such as Anthony Gormley and Eilis O’Connell among others) installed throughout the gardens. The west wing of the Castle is home to Lismore Castle Arts, a contemporary art gallery located in the Upper Garden. It is currently hosting three exhibitions. Not to be missed is the cafe beside the gallery which is open Monday to Sunday from 10.30man to 5.30pm which serves delicious home made cakes. During the summer months, picnics can be ordered in advance too. www.lismorecastlegardens.com

Killruddery, Co Wicklow

It will be all go at Killruddery this weekend when the house and gardens officially open for the season on March 29. Visitors have plenty of scope for short brisk strolls or longer walks around the 800-acre estate. This includes a flowering woodland, world-renowned 17th-century gardens, cut flower gardens, high-hedged pathways, a natural amphitheatre area, Long Ponds and a Walled Garden. Special family-orientated features include a Faerie Woodland Village and a Giant Sandpit in the apple orchard.

This weekend, there is a special two-day Easter trail, organised in partnership with the DSPCA. There will also be Spring Stories in The Orangery, baby animals to visit, traditional garden games and, of course, lots of Easter eggs. There’s also a seasonal supper club taking place on March 30 – prepared by head chef Niall O’Sullivan in the atmospheric 19th-century Grain Store. Set by candlelight, guests can enjoy a four-course set menu beside a roaring log fire with a glass of bubbles. www.killruddery.com

Russborough House, Co Wicklow

The Woodland and Rhododendron Garden at Russborough is sometimes also referred to as the Spring Garden, and was originally commissioned by Sir Alfred Beit in the 1950s from eminent landscape designer James Russell. A horticultural expert, Russell’s plant enthusiasms were for woodland-garden favourites such as magnolias, viburnums, hydrangeas, tree peonies and of course, rhododendrons. Russell’s considerable legacy can be seen throughout the UK especially at the Castle Howard estate in Yorkshire where he was involved for many years. Other Irish projects included a long association with Glenveagh National Park in Donegal.

At Russborough, Russell’s design combines rhododendrons and ferns underplanted with spring flowering bulbs – which has guaranteed the estate is awash with colour during April and May each year. The Spring Garden is to the north of the Park, and be enjoyed as part of the Woodland Walk and the Parkland Loop trails. Afterwards pop into the excellent Russborough Gift Shop or have tea and a scone in the lovely Cafe. www.russborough.ie

Hillsborough Castle & Gardens, Co Down

Popping up north for the weekend? Hillsborough Castle is en route and worth a visit. Guests can opt for house or garden tours. On the latter you have 100 acres to explore and for the next three months the sprawling gardens will be bursting with colour – they have been planted with over half a million bulbs. Expect snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils as well as tulips, camassia and bluebells later in spring. This weekend there will be some Lindt Gold Bunny statues peeking out from blooms as part of the Castle’s “Spring Spectacular.” The team has curated exclusive seasonal bouquet, flower planting and vegetable workshops and walks and talks led by the Castle’s talented gardeners. Garden Trails will take place in March, April and May and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens’ Daffodil Show will take place on April 20 – 21, part of the World Daffodil Convention and in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Daffodil Group.I recommend the gift shop and café, where the scones and signature pineapple cake are specialities. On Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday, there will also be kite making activities. If popping into the village, do check out a new boutique, Elää, which has a great edit of fashion from Tara Jarmon to Varley loungewear and Soru jewellery.  www.hrp.org.uk

Burtown House and Gardens, Co Kildare

Book Brunch or Sunday lunch at the Green Barn Restaurant at Burtown House and afterwards wander the gardens which are made up of several areas. These include large herbaceous borders, shrubberies, a rock garden, a yew walk divided by a pergola, a sundial garden, a walled kitchen garden, an old orchard, a more formal stable yard garden and a large woodland garden surrounded on all sides by water. This woodland, known as the Nutgrove, has a fine collection of candelabra primulas, hostas, ferns and iris, among other plants. It’s also worth returning in summer to see Burtown’s old roses, peonies and clematis, and its walled vegetable garden that has been in continuous production for over 150 years. www.burtownhouse.ie


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