Ireland’s ancient heritage, goes back to our earliest settlers, and permeates all of our history, to the present, including the food on our plates, the layout of our towns and villages, the very essence of what it is to live here.
The history of gardens in Ireland has also been dictated by the climate. The benign temperate climate is extremely favourable for the growth of a wide range of trees and shrubs as well as perennial plants. This, together with the geology of the country which has been shaped by two glacial periods, has led to a great diversity of growing conditions in a relatively small area.
Reference to gardens and gardening in Ireland goes back to the monks in the Middle ages. The main objective of gardening was to provide medicinal herbs and vegetables for daily living. The seventeenth century saw the beginning of cottage gardening and Ireland attracted a number of Protestant refugees who had small settlements around the country. Plant collectors were a significant development in the 18th and 19th century and these bought back exotics from abroad, many of which are common in our gardens today.
A notable garden designer, who had a significant impression on garden design in Ireland was William Robinson who published a book in 1870 called The Wild Garden. This dictated much of the typical ‘Irish’ garden style, for which we are known. It is in direct contrast to other garden styles such as those of the British and the Continent, which are very much more formal in their style and design. This uniqueness which is very much a characteristic of Irish gardens and has helped to create the attraction that they have.