Ardgillan Castle and grounds are in the hands of the local authority, Fingal County Council, and provide a fabulous amenity to the people of north Co. Dublin with great space for walking as well as giving access to excellent gardens.
There is an artist collective in residence at the castle with regular exhibitions. A range of events are organised through the year and one may even be married there! If you would like to read of the history and background of the castle and park, I suggest you visit their website here, which is very well presented and very informative.
The Society held its Annual General Meeting there on Saturday, 20th of May followed by a talk, lunch and a guided tour of the gardens. Unfortunately, our attendance was confined to the AGM and a quick walk around the gardens and, as a result, my account of the gardens is a curtailed one.
The immediate surroundings of the house were inaccessible due to renovation work which was a pity as I noted a fine specimen of Fraxinus retusa var henryana, a plant which would be of special interest to members of the IGPS.
The name commemorates Dr. Augustine Henry, an Irish doctor who worked for many years for the Chinese Imperial Customs Service and was responsible for bringing the wonderful wealth of Chinese plants to the attention of Western horticulturalists sending as many as 15,000 dried specimens back to Europe for identification and record. I have a smaller specimen of this tree in the garden here at home.
A small border along the back of what, I imagine, were once outhouses gives a very pleasant introduction to the gardens while opposite there is a line of mature yew trees atop a ha-ha – though the gap is now bridged to allow access to the open area beyond.
The Rose Garden, with its impressive glasshouse as a backdrop, is a wonderful period piece of formal geometric layout around a central fountain. The roses had not begun to bloom and I expect the display in full flower will be a magnificent scene.
From the rose garden, we wandered on to a series of enclosed spaces, a redesign of an old walled garden dividing it into more manageable, and very appealing areas, with spaces given to very attractive ornamental planting and others for fruit, vegetables and herbs.
This was all a wonderful way to give a domestic scale and appeal to a large area and to give it to give it variety and interest for the visitor. I was especially impressed by the high standards of horticulture and maintenance in the gardens, a tribute to a skilled and hard-working gardening team.