Killruddery House, Walled Garden Project & Formal Gardens approx. 30km from Dublin.
We arrived at Killruddery House and Gardens on a gorgeous day recently so this really was half the battle! We popped out because we heard through the grapevine there was a Tomato extravaganza on the same weekend. We’re by no means Tomato fanatics, we grow a few, but were curious to see what a tomato extravaganza actually looked like.
Kids & the Walled Garden Project (skip to Formal Gardens sections)
There has been much written about the signage and the car park online and yes, it could be improved, without a doubt, but we were here to see the grounds so in we went. You need to pay in to see the grounds (both the farm side and the formal side are inside the walls) and again while there are many complaints online about this, the more I researched Killruddery and its history, the more I understand why there would need to be a cover charge for upkeep. Adults are €7.50, Children under-12 are €2 and below are free. Here is the link just in case of any change – Family tickets are €80 for the season. (http://www.killruddery.com/tickets/)
As you walk in, a sharp right takes you down by the walled gardens, beautiful pear and apple trees great you as you walk down the trail, rows of vegetables, lots of varieties, potatoes, spinach, lettuce and beans were what I spotted, old style tomato houses, and a pumpkin garden with lots of huge pumpkins growing on the ground.
For the Kids – There is a big sand area alongside some picnic tables and a small cafe kiosk type shed where you can buy some decent coffee. Bring your sandwiches as there are some scones here and nothing more. It’s in a nice setting surrounded by Orchards. Hens and Roosters (and Cockerel am told) roam freely around these Orchards which is nice to see and there are a few Pigs out in the paddocks with lots of space to roam. The kids can watch these guys from the paths.
All in all if the weather is good the kids will have plenty to do here.
The formal Gardens
On the other side of the grounds are the stunning 17th Century Gardens, designed by a French garden Architect called Bonet, a Huguenot and student of André Le Notre, the main gardener to both Louis XIV and the Palace of Versailles. There are some lovely walks if you have the energy and are worth strolling around the water features and angled hedges. Especially nice is the sight, glancing along the “long ponds” up to the main house. reputedly 187 metres long and known as ‘miroirs d’eaux’ or reflecting ponds. My belief is that this is one of only two 17th Centuries gardens in Ireland. (The other at Antrim Castle in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland – we’ll go there soon to review). This place is great for the imagination and takes you straight into the lives of the Wealthy in the 17th-18th century.
The garden also features an old french 1700 century designed bank called a ha-ha; a sloped ditch that sets a boundary line between the lawn and the wider estate. In lay man’s terms, it is a trench dug on a slop that disguises a barrier which can only be seen from the far side and leaves the view out unbroken. I intend on seeking out a list of ha-ha in Ireland as time goes on.
From the long ponds you will see “the Angles” (pictured above) apparently designed in a goose foot pattern (”patte d’oie”). Also Try to spot an avenue of Ilex trees dating from the 17th century with steps leading to what was known as the bowling green.
The Sylvan theatre is an area built in a woodland setting designed for performances. Again these were popular in the 17th\18th century but when I research these online, it turns out few have survived. And this remains one of the best examples worldwide.
It has a gorgeous and well managed parterre, common nowadays but still beautiful when done impeccably so it’s worth a mention.
Simply the best description of this formal gardens I have found online is here with Sean O’Sullivan. http://seanosullivan.ie/killruddery/. Sean goes into great detail.
Killruddery have something on every weekend, so they have to be commended for multitude of different events from Archery to mushroom hunts check out this link to keep abreast http://www.killruddery.com/whats-on/
The Tomato extravaganza
Just a few words on the extravaganza itself – We pick up some nice seeds from some Heirloom tomatoes to dry it out near the small cafe kiosk. This was free for people to take away. There was a huge variety on show as you can see from the picture in the gallery, all were displayed in the Orangery. Their were a number of talks held on the history of the tomato, The basil plant on how to successfully grow it (see our post also) and how to grow, cook and Eat tomatoes to name but a few. More information about the show can be found on the shows facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TotallyTerrificTomatoFestival/?fref=nf