Bordered by Lough Corrib and set in 350 acres of parkland, Ashford Castle offers some of Ireland’s most picturesque scenery. Its beguiling gardens are a superb marriage of formal and informal, of classic Victorian design and contemporary landscaping, all in harmony with the castle’s imposing architecture. For those staying at Ashford Castle this summer, these are four of our favourite garden highlights to explore during the warmer months.
The Walled Garden
Walking through the castle’s curved stone service tunnel, you’re transported into the intimate Walled Garden. Pebbled pathways connect you between fruit, vegetable and flower borders abundant with herbaceous perennials. Beds are well tended yet retain a sense of wild nature. In summer, the commanding hornbeam tunnel is in full bloom, as are tulips and purple lavender.
Dense woodland surrounds the castle. Comprising a magnificent array of trees like Sitka and Norway spruces, Scots pines, silver firs, and American Redwoods, the woods are the perfect place to take an afternoon stroll. A tangle of trails meander from the castle grounds, through the verdant woods and all the way up to Monk’s Fishing House and Cong village. Look for wildlife like pine martens, rabbits and the elusive red squirrel.
Hundreds of Years of History
Ashford Castle’s gardens are the result of centuries of loving maintenance and care. They were largely created by Lady Ardiluan of the esteemed Guinness family, who owned the castle for around 100 years. With the help of her gardener, she laid out the terraces and walks in the 1890s. As Ireland’s first millionaire, Lord Ardiluan saw the elegant gardens with its topiary hedges and immaculately manicured grounds as the ultimate showpiece.
Tollman Garden Fountain
Renamed in honour of Red Carnation Hotels’ Bea Tollman after the careful restoration of the hotel in 2015, the Tollman Gardens comprise part of the Victorian gardens established by the Guinness family in the 19th Century. Centre-stage is an enchanting circular fountain, surrounded by intricate mosaic work. Each of the fountain’s Irish limestone spouts are carved with a single syllable, which creates a cryptic Irish poem. A network of paths leads off from the fountain to a ring of stone seats, where you can pause to admire the scenery.
When staying at the stately Ashford Castle in summer, be sure to explore the estate’s magnificent gardens and woodlands for an authentic taste of Ireland’s alluring nature.