Designated as a “great garden of the world”, Mount Congreve represents gardening on a very grand scale indeed. In late spring and early summer the 100-acre demesne is surely one of the wonders of the floral world; at that time of year one of the largest rhododendron collections in the world, the culmination of Ambrose Congreve’s lifetime passion, reaches its peak.
Inspired by the Rothschilds’ garden at Exbury, Ambrose Congreve’s interest began at an early age and, where most of us plant by ones and twos, planting at Mount Congreve is done by the score. The result is spectacular seas of blossom and banks of colour with wonderful contrasts between the foliage and forms of different genera.
The estate overlooks a bend in the River Suir and the wooded hillside rising up from the river provides perfect growing conditions for over 300 different types of rhododendron, more than 600 types of camellia, 250 types of Japanese maple and 300 varieties of magnolia. There are also wonderful displays of prunus and euchryphia.
The folds and slopes of the hills and valleys offer different prospects over the inspired planting and there are enchanting sights and scents at every turn. Views not to be missed include a view of a Japanese pagoda below a 100-foot cliff, clouds of the coral flowers of azalea ‘Favourite’ lining the path to a classical temple overlooking the river, and a natural amphitheatre peopled with dwarf ryakushianum overlooking a rock pool.
Flowering shrubs are only part of the story: bulbs - snowdrops, crocus, grape hyacinths, glory of the snow, daffodils and wild bluebells – provide carpets of colour before the tree canopy closes over. The impressive arboreal collection includes Davidii involucrata the handkerchief tree, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the dawn redwood and Nothofagus menziesiithe silver beech.
The walled gardens evoke previous eras with greenhouses dedicated to growing nectarines, grapes and flowers for the house, and with collections of exotic plants including orchids, bromeliads, clivias and fuchsias. Within the four walled acres there are borders dedicated to displays for the months of May, June, July and August, exemplary vegetable gardens, and collections of iris and hydrangeas.
Off the N25 Cork/Waterford Road: 8km beyond Waterford turn right at the sign for Tramore; take the second turn to the left and the gates are on the right.
Directions will appear here