a mediateam website

See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

Drumanagh's Journal

Drumanagh's Journal

Last Post 583 days 2 hours ago

Ballintubbert House Gardens, Athy, Co. Kildare.

03 September 2010 10:28:03
The Lutyens garden

The Lutyens garden

I visited the gardens at Ballintubbert house near Athy a couple of weeks ago and was very taken with them. They are a work in progress - or rather, a work interrupted. They were begun in their current form towards the end of the boom by a businessman with great plans, and the funds to make them reality. They involved many well known Irish designers and plantspeople. However, recession intervened and the garden staff has dwindled from up to 14 to a talented head gardener and volunteers today. So there are areas of neglect and wilderness, but there are also areas of gorgeous planting where the efforts of the gardeners have been concentrated over the last couple of years. The Lutyens garden is beautiful, and the barn garden was full of colour when I visited at the end of July. The rose garden was past its best as it was bereft of blooms and unsurprisingly there are plans to make this area into a white garden in a nod to Sissinghurst and Hidcote, for more year round appeal. However these along with many other plans have been shelved for now. 

There has been huge investment in the gardens - some would say it is sheer lunacy to invest so much in a garden and that the Nuttery at the end of the garden is well named, but many of the most popular gardens visited today required massive outlay at their inception - Mount Stewart was said to be 'manured with money' and Ilnacullin required boatloads of soil and stone to be brought over from the mainland and employed 100 men for 3 years. But of course you don't need a money tree to have a spectacular garden, but if you want one on the scale of Ballintubbert, it helps. And while I don't mean to compare Ballintubbert with world famous gardens, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to see a garden that may well some day be a jewel in the crown of Ireland's horticultural attractions, in its infancy. 

The gardens, located between Athy and Stradbally, are private but are open to the public at weekends until the end of September. I did notice some exotic plants but the gardens are mainly classical and traditional in style, probably in keeping with the Georgian house which was originally a rectory and as a matter of interest was the home of actor John Hurd and the brithplace of poet Cecil Day Lewis, father of another actor  - Daniel Day Lewis. 

And if you are going to visit, be sure to take the long way round to the central gardens - through the wild garden and wooded walk where you pass the Oak and Holly God scuplture, past the Mount which is set up like a stage looking out on to the lawn, through the Orchard, into the Nuttery and back towards the house along the avenue of yews which leads directly to the sunken circular Lutyens garden, delaying gratification if you will.

The garden has limited facilities for visitors - there is no teashop or proper toilets - but there is a sort of gardener's 'outhouse' in the orchard if nature calls. Plant wise there was a guy called Gerry who has a garden centre in the town who had a plant stall at the car park and I got a few things. I'm not sure if he is there every weekend though. And here is a link to a map  - the gardens are signposted from Athy by a green sign with a sunflower on it. The entrance is unassuming with white iron gates and stone pillars but the gardens, you might say, are certainly not! 


I put up an Album of photos. I'm interested to hear what people think or if anyone decides to visit. 


Please login to write a comment or click here to register

fran m fran m 03 September 2010 18:44:55

Alison, looks well worth a visit. They were great photos well done.

Ternie Ternie 03 September 2010 18:48:10

Very interesting story, Alison! Pictures are great, some parts of garden are really perfect.

Myrtle Myrtle 03 September 2010 20:27:05

Could be a wonderful garden, always sad to see neglect in what was a beautiful garden. Photos are lovely. The one of the hazel nuts brought back memories of childhood when we used to collect them from the boundary of our meadow!

060620102 060620102 06 September 2010 22:32:53

The gardens did not exist prior to 1996. In 2006 much of the garden was still brown earth. Most of the new trees, were planted between 2005 and 2008, so it will be a number of years before they finally settle in.The yew hedges are still young and will not really have full impact for another six or seven years.

I think your article was fair, but I would caution about using the word neglect, nothing is neglected in Ballintubbert, just being managed in the most efficient manner given the circumstances.  "A Garden in the Making" I would strongly urge anybody who has an interest in gardens to go and see this one while it is still young. Finally, on the costs, it is testament to the owners that they felt it appropriate to endow such a project in the full knowledge that they may never live to see this garden at its finest. 




Drumanagh Drumanagh 07 September 2010 10:19:50

Thank you for your comments. I thought the gardens were breathtaking but I wanted to temper my enthusiasm a little. I wanted people to experience the garden for themselves. I wanted them to be prepared for the less well tended areas so that they would be even more 'wowed' by the more pristine areas. The broken terracotta pots and the waist height grass in the orchard could be taken as 'neglect', and with such a severe reduction in staff, how could there not be areas that are left to their own devices?  Perhaps neglect was the wrong word, as the Headgardner has done an amazing job. No offence was intended.

I did make the point that it is a priviledge to see the garden at this stage in its development and yes, there are very few people who have invested such an amount in a garden in this country in almost a hundred years, so of course the owners are to be commended for that. 



Drumanagh Drumanagh 07 September 2010 10:20:43

And by the way the Yew hedges are establishing very well - they are almost like the set of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland! I could have waxed lyrical about the gardens for ages but at the end of the day I just wanted to make people aware of the their existence so that they could make up their own minds, and I believe they couldn't but be impressed. 

fran m fran m 07 September 2010 10:37:16

Alison, you gave me food for thought, and am hoping to get there shortly.

The Cottage Gardener The Cottage Gardener 07 September 2010 18:51:43

I am a volunteer at Ballintubbert gardens and I agree with 060620102 that neglect is definately off the mark. Volunteers are thin on the ground and certain areas are a priority at this stage. The Head Gardener has put his heart and soul into maintaining the gardens to keep them to an acceptable standard. There are areas that have been put on the long finger for now but not neglected. With few volunteers I think the gardens are remarkable    

Drumanagh Drumanagh 07 September 2010 22:01:28

Obviously many people have put their hearts and souls into this garden and the whole point of my journal was that the gardens are remarkable and well worth a visit. 

fran m fran m 07 September 2010 22:07:40

That's what I got from your Journal, and you photos only backed up your thoughts.

The Cottage Gardener The Cottage Gardener 08 September 2010 08:53:10

I absolutely agree that you have enjoyed visiting these gardens with a great selection of photos and your comments etc. If you see it from my point I am passionate about Ballintubbert gardens and will back it all the way. Thankyou for highlighting the gardens on Garden.ie  

Drumanagh Drumanagh 09 September 2010 14:35:27

I understand completely Cottage Gardener. Maybe in the future you could update us on what is going on in the gardens on your journal. I hope lots more people will get to see them before they close for the season.

060620102 060620102 24 June 2011 23:06:47

You will be delighted to hear that Ballintubbert gardens has now got a website. have a look at Ballintubbbert.com and read more about this beautiful place. 

Rachel Rachel 19 August 2011 22:41:37

I am going to visit Ballintubbert Gardens tomorrow as part of my Plants Person Course. I amlooking forward to it very much.

Drumanagh Drumanagh 19 August 2011 22:45:19

Thats great Rachel, I hope you enjoy it. I would love to go back soon as I absolutely loved it. Looking forward to hearing how you get on!

Rachel Rachel 19 August 2011 22:52:57

Me too, Alison. I will give a full account tomorrow night :)

fran m fran m 20 August 2011 07:15:44

Have a great day Rachel, you are really clocking up the visits this year, enjoy.

Rachel Rachel 20 August 2011 08:30:39

Thanks, Fran.

a mediateam website

©2017 Garden.ie. Mediateam Ltd, Media House, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18.

Tel (+353 1) 2947777 Email info@garden.ie

Website Design by KCO.ie