Travelling through Ireland is an adventure that everyone should get to enjoy.  The diversity within that small country is amazing, with extraordinary landscape features. It ranges from natural wonders like the Cliffs of Mohr to the formal gardens that surround the many castles.

Blarney Castle is a must see that had many special areas within it’s own estate; formal gardens, perennial gardens, living walls, and trails and path systems that allowed you to enjoy the natural beauty.  The lush green foliage and many waterfalls were still vibrant during the fall season.  If you aren’t brave enough to kiss the Blarney stone there is still so much to see.

My friend and I decided that one day of our trip would be castle day.  We managed to see three castles in one day.  The first was Carlow Castle, which we realized was more of a ruin, and was just a wall of a castle.  Kilkenny Castle was our second castle.  This castle was restored to show the lavish lifestyle that the owners had.   Beautiful rooms, hand painted ceilings, so much detail everywhere.  The grounds were very lovely.  The front entrance of the castle had a vast field.  The back of the castle had a terrace and tiered lawns leading down to a large fountain.  Around the fountain were the rose gardens.  The simplicity yet elegance was welcome after the very ornate decor of the inside of the castle.

We decided to go the the Irish National Stud where a fantastic Japanese garden happened to be located.  It is said that this Japanese garden is one of the best outside of Japan.  Enjoying the different styles of pathways and bridges made you really ‘use yourself’, as there were no railings, or low rocks to use as caution signs.  You had to be hyper aware navigating throughout the garden.  This is a common thing in Japanese gardens, as they are designed to make you take your time and question your next step.

While we were on the west side of Ireland we went to the Kilarney National Park. The view from the Abbey looked out over a lake where two mountains met.  You weren’t able to see the top of the mountain because the clouds were hiding them.  The sunken garden was a combination of formal and country garden.  Around the base of the sunken area were perennial gardens, while the middle was formal with standard roses and low growing annuals.  The park also had a beautiful waterfall, more formal gardens, rock gardens and old greenhouses that were also beautiful.

I was able to do even more with my other week there, but I feel I did not see nearly enough of Ireland.  That is OK though. It just means I must go back there to keep experiencing the wonderful people, food, historic sites, scenery and much more. It is a great place to get inspiration for landscape design!