Exploring Ireland's Ancient East - Mount Congreve Gardens
If you are looking for a place to relax and wander through some beautiful outdoor surroundings, then Mount Congreve is a top choice while in Ireland's Ancient East. Located about 10 minutes by car from Waterford City Center, Mount Congreve is a perfect day out for all the family. You are guaranteed some spectacular views no matter the season as there is such a vast variety of flora and fauna throughout the estate which covers 70 acres. There are over three thousand different trees and shrubs, more than two thousand Rhododendrons, six hundred Camellias, three hundred Acer cultivars, six hundred conifers, two hundred and fifty climbers and fifteen hundred herbaceous plants.
Mount Congreve has been recognised as one of the ‘great gardens of the world’. The estate dates back to the 1750’s and was designed by John Roberts, a local architect whom was known for designing many of Waterford’s iconic buildings. Mount Congreve House and Estate was home to 6 generations of the Congreve's up until 2011. Originally, the gardens were made up of a lone terraced garden and woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts. However, in 1955 Mr Ambrose Congreve began creating large clearings to make way for his new plants. Over the course of 40 years, Ambrose Congreve along with Mr Herman Dool developed the gardens. The development and care of the gardens continues to this day. With the knowledge of curator Mr Michael White, there is a steady stream of new additions being added to the gardens collection as well as a new hybrid breeding programme of magnolias and rhododendrons.
Mr Congreve passed away in 2011 while on route to the Chelsea Flower Show. He was 104 years old. In his lifetime his achievements were recognised by Queen Elizabeth, whom awarded him a CBE for his contribution in horticulture, and he also received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin as well as numerous medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.
There are a number of key features that you have to see at Mount Congreve. The Chinese Padoga is located in the centre of an old quarry, this a spectacular sight especially when viewed from above. The Classical Temple overlooks the beautiful view of the river Suir and countryside, and is a great spot for some photos. The Woodstown Viking Settlement can also be seen from here. The Georgian Glasshouse is bordered by a variety of herbaceous plants and a large manicured lawn. Built in 1840, the glasshouse is currently undergoing renovations. Explore the 16km of pathways and find the other hidden gems for yourself.
Throughout the year Mount Congreve have special events including twilight tours, plant fairs and family fun days. If you would like to grab a coffee or lunch there is an on-sight café with both indoor and outdoor seating. They also have a garden shop, where you can purchase plants and ask the expert gardeners any questions you may have. Mount Congreve is accessible from the Waterford Greenway, so you can plan your route to visit, and continue on your way if you please. Don’t miss this enchanting estate while in Waterford, you won’t be disappointed.