Altamont Gardens is known as the most romantic garden in Ireland. This large old-world garden is Robinsonian in style and combines the informal tradition of combining a nice selection of plants to complement the natural landscape.
Ranked as one of the top 10 Irish gardens, this one will whisk you back to a more tranquil and magical time in the British Isles.
Ruins and History
Oral history says that Altamont Gardens was once the site of a convent, but there are no existing documents to corroborate those claims. However, the existing house is clearly built on the remains of an earlier dwelling with thick walls, paved granite floors and arrow slit windows in the center of the basement.
Back at that time, it is thought the estate was called Rose Hill, but changed to Soho by 1777 and later named Altamont sometime in the late 18th century. Altamont was a title bestowed on the eldest son and in this instance had a connection with the Marquis of Sligo.
The ruins of a chapel are still found in the garden, too. All that’s left is a windowed end wall that can be found on the Dark Walk, but the stained glass windows are thought to date from Victorian times. Some fragments of the chapel have been incorporated into the main house and can be found beneath the library and above the front bedroom window of the south wing.
The estate features native and exotic specimens of mature trees which are now joined by other more recently planted specimens. The older trees have been planted by generations of owner-gardeners with some trees dating all the way back to 1750.
In the “Ice Age Glen” you can walk beneath a canopy of stately Sessile oaks that are more than 500 years old. Visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy extensive collections of other trees, shrubs, herbs, and flowering bulbs including 40 varieties of snowdrops, hundreds of varieties of daffodils, and others.
The lawns are bordered by sculpted yews sloping to a romantic lake which is encircled by rare trees, rhododendrons and shrubs. Here you’ll also find an abundance of roses, both old fashioned and modern varieties. While you’re there, you want to be sure to walk the Board Walk with its clipped Irish yews, shrub roses, and a host of other flowers.
Other must-sees when visiting the Altamont Gardens include a walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden, and a walk along the River Slaney where you may see an otter or a salmon or trout jumping. It’s also an ideal spot for bird lovers and those enjoy butterflies. It really is a paradise that takes you to another time.
Photo credits: jameswburke