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The New Irish Garden: A Passion for Plants in Dublin & Wicklow

The past two or three decades have seen a new crop of bold and beautiful gardens maturing within the romantic landscape of south-east Ireland, and this tour presents an exceptional opportunity to meet the plantsmen and women at the heart of this horticultural revolution. As well as a terrific variety of plants that thrive in Wicklow’s mild and (frequently) damp climate, you can expect plenty of good humour, tall tales and glorious views all along the way. Visiting these gardens is akin to being welcomed into a great friendly family – where we roll from house party to house party, drinking in the beauty of the contrasting gardens and being taken right to the warm heart of the Irish gardening world. We are based for two nights at The Marfield Hotel, a country house hotel renowned for warm Irish hospitality and excellent food served each evening in the Duck Restaurant. This hotel even has its own wonderful gardens and then, for the last night, you are accommodated at the stylish Dylan Hotel in Dublin.

Your Tour Includes

  • Return flights from London Heathrow to Dublin Airport
  • 2 nights half-board at The Marfield Hotel
  • 1 night half-board at The Dylan Hotel
  • 3 evening meals and 4 lunches with wine
  • Services of our Tour Manager and Tour Host
  • Detailed programme and garden notes
Experts
Sophie Piebenga

Sophie Piebenga

Born in The Netherlands and based in the Cotswolds, our expert Sophie Piebenga has lived most of her life in the UK. Trained with the National Trust and qualified at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, all whilst working as head gardener of a private estate, Sophie quickly developed a particular interest in the conservation of historic gardens. This eventually led to a doctoral study at the University of York, researching the work of the early Victorian landscape gardener, William Sawrey Gilpin. Sophie has since worked freelance, mostly in the field of historic landscape conservation, and, for the last 25 years, has regularly led Boxwood tours around the UK and to Ireland, France, Spain and The Netherlands.

Stephen Anderton

Stephen Anderton

Stephen is the long-standing garden writer for the Times, as well as a lecturer and author. Trained originally in Drama and then Landscape Design, he worked in historic gardens where, latterly as National Gardens Manager for English Heritage, he was responsible for several major restoration projects. Discovering Welsh Gardens was published in 2009; his official biography Christopher Lloyd, His Life at Great Dixter appeared in March 2010 and Lives of the Great Gardeners in 2018. He now lives in the Black Mountains where he is making a large woodland garden.

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Itinerary

We depart London Heathrow to Dublin Airport.

To set the scene, our first garden is Hunting Brook, Jimi Blake's very own garden. Famous for its borders, Hunting Brook has been created from Jimi’s deep knowledge and love of plants and gardens. Here you will find examples of the exquisitely colourful, large-scale planting combinations for which he has become so well known. Jimi’s endgame is to find the very best, longest-flowering perennials, and to grow them in combination with great foliage plants in a way that’s both modern and inventive, to ensure that Hunting Brook looks great from early spring until the first hard frost.

Following a welcoming lunch, travel around the corner to Tinode where Jimi’s sister June Blake continues to embellish her small, intense garden with more horticultural wonders. The very best gardens intrigue and restore us, and so it is with June Blake’s garden – a rare fusion of inspired design and painterly planting.

Drive south to Marlfield House Hotel, our base for the next two nights, with time to settle in before dining together.

Includes Lunch

Includes Dinner

Included Highlights

Hunting Brook Tinode

This morning, we visit the gardens of a private estate near Dunlavin before a special invitation to Patthana, an award-winning garden in the village of Kilegan and home to artist T.J. Maher and his partner, Simon Kirby. Although small, it is skillfully and beautifully planted and is a joy to see in all seasons.

Following a delightful lunch, we return to Marlfield House Hotel for time to explore their own wonderful garden and dining together this evening. We are then invited to an evening talk with Jimi Blake.

Includes Breakfast

Includes Lunch

Includes Dinner

Included Highlights

Evening Talk with Jimi Blake Patthana

Heading back towards Dublin, our first visit takes us to the National Garden Exhibition Centre and Arboretum at Kilquade House, to explore 20 individually inspirational gardens.

Lunch is followed by more garden grandeur at a very private garden. Here, formal hedging and topiary combined with extravagant, colourful planting and immaculate lawns are key in creating a timeless sense of proportion and beauty.

We then continue to the centre of Georgian Dublin, where a warm welcome and fine dinner awaits at the Dylan Hotel.

Includes Breakfast

Includes Lunch

Includes Dinner

Included Highlights

Kilquade House

Today we visit two special Dublin gardens. We start with a very private visit to an exciting garden that cannot be named.

Close by, we discover Airfield Gardens, which came to prominence under the leadership of Jimi Blake. Since, they have continued to evolve, with the help of designers Arabella Lennox Boyd and Dermot Foley and head gardener Colm O’Driscoll, into a vibrant beautiful garden.

Return to Dublin International airport, arriving back at Heathrow

Includes Breakfast

Includes Lunch

Included Highlights

Airfield Gardens Private Garden Visit

Accommodation

You will stay for two nights on a half-board basis at the Marfield Hotel (wine included with dinner) and one night on a half-board basis at the Dylan Hotel (wine included with dinner).