County Wicklow is famous for its impressive mountains, glacial lakes, Irish Sea coastline and scenic walking trails. Located just south of Dublin on the east coast of Ireland, Wicklow is often referred to as "The Garden of Ireland" and is extremely popular with tourists. There are many things to do when you are staying in a holiday cottage in County Wicklow, but if you enjoy horticulture then a visit to Mount Usher Gardens is a must. One of only 3 Irish Gardens, Mount Usher boasts a diverse collection of trees and shrubs with carefully designed floral arrangements along both sides of the River Vartry.
'The Good Gardens Guide' has rated Mount Usher Gardens as one of the finest gardens across Britain and Ireland for exceptional quality, design and planting. One of only 3 Irish gardens, Mount Usher is a fine example of a 'Robinsonian' garden and has been cultivated entirely by organic principles since 1980. Due to its sheltered valley setting the gardens to offer a variety of impressive planting schemes that can be enjoyed all year round. Experience the ever-changing array of floral colours, textures and scents through the various seasons and locate the many tree species with a detailed tree trail guide as you explore the gardens.
Visiting Mount Usher Gardens is one of the ultimate things to do in County Wicklow. Situated in the charming village of Ashford, 35 minutes south of Dublin it lies on the River Vartry and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Nearby seaside towns Bray, Wicklow and Arklow and the close proximity to Dublin make the gardens easily accessible by most means of transport.
Mount Usher Gardens were originally designed and planted by Edward Walpole in the mid-1880's. The Walpole family had made their wealth through industry and commerce and like many a successful family in the 19th Century, had reinvested this wealth into something of beauty and splendour. Inspired by the works of William Robinson - creator of the 'managed wild garden', Edward combined a unique variety of trees and plants in the sheltered setting of the River Vartry valley. The gardens were later bought by Zurich born Madeleine Jay in 1979 and she spent the next 30 years rebuilding the wild gardens with the help of a small team. Following her retirement, the family entered into an arrangement with Avoca Handweavers who continue to manage the gardens in the spirit in which they were lovingly conceived.
Mount Usher Gardens offers walking trails that pass through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in Ireland. If you're after things to do in County Wicklow and find yourself visiting the gardens then embarking on one of the well-renowned walking tours will leave you in awe of the natural beauty and abundant wildlife surrounding you. Chose from the River Walk, Woodland Garden Walk or a guided tour where you will learn about the history, design and planting schemes of the gardens.
Walking through the gardens you will experience copious sights, smells and sounds no matter the season. With over 20 acres of beautifully kept and cared for gardens to explore you will find the peace and tranquillity of the setting something to behold. Wander along the informal paths next to the river Vartry, across dappled green meadows boasting an array of wildflowers, and on through light woodland home to eucalyptus and magnolias. With a surprise around every corner, you will discover elegant features introduced by the Walpole family such as thoughtfully constructed weirs and bridges, their inspiring design complementing the flora and fauna of the gardens.
If you're looking for family-friendly things to do in County Wicklow a visit to Mount Usher Gardens will cater for all ages. The easy to read maps will keep children occupied and they will have endless fun trying to find 'the wobbly bridge' crossing the river. There is a profusion of wildlife for spotting including otters, herons, kingfishers, hedgehogs, and a plethora of songbirds. In the summer months, the gardens come to life with a harmony of colour and scents attracting insects and butterflies to the botanical collections.
A guided tour of the gardens takes approximately 90 minutes and can easily be arranged by contacting The Gardens Manager in advance of your visit.
If shopping is on your list of things to do in County Wicklow, Mount Usher Gardens will not leave you disappointed. With a boho-chic feel to it the Courtyard has plenty of high-end products on offer where you can choose from fashion, unique home accessories, equestrian supplies, evocative artwork and handcrafted gifts to name a few. There is also a well-stocked nursery selling a great selection of plants and garden accessories.
The bespoke furniture shop Strawbridge offers a variety of homewares and gifts. They have over 30 years experience as the Irish specialist in newly made Traditional and Classic furniture, and stock a vast array of unusual and attractive accessories for the home. Should you need inspiration take a look at their large collection of beautifully arranged displays.
If refreshments are needed, Avoca Garden Café is open all year round, 7 days a week. With a delightful menu offering breakfast and lunch (plus a children's menu too) their delicious food is served all day. The café is so highly recommended, if you're after things to do in County Wicklow but haven't time to tour the gardens then the café alone is worth a visit.
If you're looking for fashion, then have a browse through the sophisticated collections at Oska. Renowned for their comfortable yet stylish designs, the brand is sure to offer a style to flatter all ages and figures. For horse enthusiasts Rhinestone Country Clothing stocks a vast range of quality clothing for Men, Women and children. They also have extensive equestrian accessories for both rider and horse.
For the art admirers, The Art Box offers highly sought after pieces by local artist Eoin O’Connor, who lives and works in Aughrim county Wicklow. His work is influenced by the landscapes of his native Ireland, and his striking artworks are dominated by strong powerful tones that are rich in contrast. Eoin has exhibited worldwide including London and New York and has had a number of very successful exhibitions at the RDS in Dublin.
Mount Usher Gardens is by far one of the best attractions to visit in Ireland and guests are often left in awe of the magical, enchanting environment. If you find yourself near County Wicklow, a visit to this colourful paradise is a must!