Meet the best gardens – and gardeners – of County Wexford

Wexford Lavender Farm

These Gardens of Wexford have a few things in common which inspire them to keep going, be creative and open their gates to the public. They are all in County Wexford, privately owned and managed and are self-funded. Together with Garden Centres and Government funded Gardens they are members of The Wexford Garden Trail. This trail welcomes visitors and their members are more than happy to assist with any information visitors require to enjoy their visits to the Gardens and Garden centres of County Wexford.

Kilmokea yellow-bark tree
Yellowbark tree at Kilmokea

There really is something special and treasured about Irish Gardens. They represent a natural environment of plants and trees taking in carbon and releasing oxygen into the air while their roots stabilize the soil and filter water. As trees reduce air pollution they help us to breathe better. Spending time within a natural setting often reduces our stress & improves our sleep. Just being among trees is good for our wellbeing and they make a lovely setting for walking, an activity shown to reduce stress and illness. With roots reaching deep into the earth, trees have excellent grounding energy. Indeed the healing powers of a garden have been portrayed in art and literature since our earliest beginnings. Out of the earth these garden owners are creating living miracles.

Nature has long been known for its relaxing qualities. Visiting gardens is so good for our health having vital positive effects on mental health as they boost our mood and generally make us feel more cheery. The Holistic benefits are huge. Relaxation, stress reduction and the value of improved quality of life to name but a few.

So much inspiration can be received through visiting gardens to assist the creation of our own garden too. Meeting the gardeners and owners adds enormously to the visit.

The sharing of valuable knowledge and stories while appreciating someone else’s hard work and creation adds to our lives. So often we are creating and planting for the future generation to enjoy so sharing knowledge cements the continuity of gardening systems. Stories of pioneering gardeners over the years who created and contributed to gardens over time add a depth to our visit helping us appreciate the garden while gaining inspiration for our own gardens. Great inspiration too for poets, artists and writers alike.

The visit provides us with the benefit of expanding our knowledge of horticulture, new technologies and making connections with like-minded people. They are a great way to introduce gardening as a hobby to children teaching them to nurture living things.

Some of the deepest preoccupations of thoughtful gardeners are the weather and the seasons. It is from Spring to Autumn, that magical time of year when many of Wexford’s self- funded private gardens open their gates to the public for you to explore.

Emma Hewlett, Kilmokea B&B

Kilmokea Bed and Breakfast
Kilmokea Manor Gardens, County Wexford

Coolaught Gardens

Coolaught Gardens was created and is owned by Harry & Caroline Deacon.

“We were both probably always really into gardening but for me it started as an interest in growing to eat vegetables and fruit from a young age, but not into the floral side, I left that to my mother. She loved keeping the garden going and I was often called to help out, not really willingly I may add. When I married Caroline she was really interested as well, so much so that when they teamed up, I needed to find somewhere to escape to when they were both after me to do something or other!
The years that followed saw us become more interested and the garden grew in size and to be fair it was Caroline was now the driving force but we visited more gardens in our time off and I suppose the gardening bug had bitten.

The start of Coolaught Gardens really happened as a result of us deciding for the hell of it to enter what was then the National Garden competition, we came second in the Wexford section but we never realized how much it would impact us and by the end of the following week we had about 4 garden clubs asking us would we open the garden for viewing for their clubs! It seems that up to that point no private garden had come as high up the competition and a lot of people wanted to see this unknown garden. We started playing with the idea of opening the garden for a limited time Sundays 2 to 6 for the Summer months, but we underestimated the response, and we were run off our feet on those Sundays and the tours that came on weekdays again made us realize that we were going to have to open more days to spread the load. We opened from Wednesday through to Sunday next and after that we opened the full seven days and of course by then we had added the garden centre and the garden during this time had also more than doubled in size and now stands at more than 2.5 acres. So even though now when the garden is closed we have the sales area to take care of.

We have loved the time we have spent in making the garden but we have also loved meeting all the like-minded people we have met through the past 20 years because of what we started here. True gardening folk are the best people you can be around, they are generally very positive people who work their way through every adversary, none have been tested as much as by what has happened in the last year. Things and situations have changed utterly for a lot of people, life as we know it has been turned on it’s head, these lockdowns have had a devastating impact on families, business, economies across the world are suffering but nothing compared to the families of the people that have died. There has on the other hand been more time for parents to spend with their children, that has to be a bonus. The realization that most people won’t be able to travel away for holidays and breaks has seen the nation change by being much more conscious of their homes and their gardens. After the first lockdown we started a call and collect service which I found very difficult. It is not the same as meeting with your customers face to face and making sure what they are buying will suit them, but as the Summer wore on and the economy opened we found that a lot of people had also found the joy of having the space around their homes and now wanted to make that area more beautiful and a place to relax and unwind in i.e. make a garden out of it! Last Summer all the tours both National and International were cancelled as were all the new Brides and Grooms that come for to take their photos in the garden. We were reluctant at first to open the garden as we weren’t sure of the protocols to put in place to keep people safe but as we finally became more confident, we did open it and our new customers and old seemed to get new enjoyment from the garden and that also lifted our spirits.

We have passed the first day of Spring St. Bridget’s day and even though the weather is still dismal, that too will change the days are getting longer and warmer and Summer will come again and eventually Covid will be consigned to the history books and life will return to the new normal. We will look forward to meeting both our regular customers and those that have been bitten with the gardening bug recently back to Coolaught Gardens again.”

Coolaught Gardens, County Wexford
Coolaught Gardens, County Wexford

Clonroche, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford
Telephone: 053 9244137, 087 6446882, coolaughtgardens@eircom.net, www.facebook.com/coolaughtgardens
Garden is open Mid May to Mid September, or by appointment to individuals and groups Garden Centre open all year round.

Glenavon Japanese Garden

Glenavon Japanese Garden was created by and is owned by Iris Checkett.

“During the winter of 1999 I attended gardening classes run by Frances McDonald in Gorey Community School. As part of the course we were asked to design our dream gardens. I decided to create a Japanese themed garden. The garden developed over the next few years ,constructed by Drinagh Garden Centre. Originally based on the four seasons of the year over the years it has matured and changed.

Some years ago I joined The Wexford Garden Trail and opened my garden to the public for a few months in the summer. All proceeds are given to charity. The Garden Trail has helped enormously with the marketing of my garden through the Web site, Social Media and The Brochure. It is enormously beneficial too for our garden visitors as we introduce them to the trail and suggest other gardens for them to visit and Garden centres for them to purchase plants and garden related tools, compost, pots and ornaments.

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic last year there were very few visitors and this year I hope Government restrictions allow more people to avail of the wonderful spaces we have all created in the Wexford Garden Trail for visitors to enjoy safely.

Working in the garden keeps me fit and gives me the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Hopefully these visitors get as much pleasure from the beauty of the garden as I do, and the peaceful place helps them to reduce the stresses of life.
Each season brings its own particular pleasures. In Spring we have the beauty of the Cherry Blossom. Summer features Hydrangeas, Autumn, the Liquid Amber walk and in Winter all the grasses.

Of course, there are problems associated with any garden. The area is all macamore soil so it requires quite a lot of chicken manure and hard work. I have to contend with the Macamore soil and Mr Heron repeatedly comes for my fish! On the upside I buy all my replacement plants and receive help and advice from my good friends in Springmount Garden Centre. Nothing takes away from the pleasure and enjoyment of being surrounded by the beauty of a garden. I love Glenavon Japanese Garden and enjoy every moment I have in this gorgeous space.

Glenavon Japanese Garden, County Wexford
Glenavon Japanese Garden, County Wexford

Glen Richards, Courtown Harbour, Gorey, Co. Wexford
Telephone: 053 9425331, 085 2048737, irischeckett@eircom.net, www.facebook.com/glenavonjapanesegarden

Opening Hours:
Sunday and Friday May to August 2pm – 5pm, or by appointment to individuals and groups.

Kilmurray Gardens

Kilmurray Gardens was created and is owned by Paul & Orla Woods

Opening your garden to the public is a work of passion it requires complete dedication and a little bit of lunacy which we have in spathes. It is a moving feast which is never complete but which hopefully inspires people to try and achieve parts of it in their own garden space. Opening your garden requires courage as you are opening yourself up to other people opinions and criticism but it also can give you huge rewards for all the hours you are on your hands and knees weeding. Our greatest concern is when people return from a walk in the garden with armfuls of flowers they have picked to see if we have it for sale in the nursery a tight lipped smile usually is the response with a gentle reminder not to pick the flowers. The responses can be quite amusing.

The development of our garden started in conjunction with the development of the nursery as we found people enjoyed seeing the plants they were interested in buying growing in a garden. It is planted in an informal style with the inclusion of pond areas over the past few years. We completed our long border in a formal setting six years ago and they give a formal entrance into the garden joined to the more informal areas. My favourite spot is sitting in the long borders surrounded by hornbeam hedging completely surrounded by foliage and flowers. It is the most perfect tranquil spot. My favourite plants are definitely the ones that continue flowering for a long time like Alstroemeria and are wonderful cut flowers for the house and also the scented ones like phlox and paeonias which are brief but in the few weeks they flower give so much joy. Our gardening opening is self- funded as we have a donation box for the RNLi in Courtown which we are past crew of and which our daughter has now joined. Our greatest pleasure is seeing people enjoying the space we have created and sitting and relaxing which in these times is so important . Our opening last year was hampered with Covid regulations but hopefully when summer arrives we will be able to reopen and allow people to enjoy our space.

Kilmurry Nursery, County Wexford
Kilmurry Nursery, County Wexford

Kilmurry Nursery, Gorey, Co. Wexford
Telephone: 053 9480223, 086 8113171, 086 8180623, kilmurrynursery@eircom.net, www.kilmurrynursery.com

Opening Hours:
Nursery Open Jan-March Mon-Friday 10-5
March 30th -Sept 27th open Monday-Saturday-10-5pm
30th Sept-13th December -Monday -Friday-10am-5pm

Entrance Fee:
Donation to Courtown RNLI

Kilmokea Gardens

Kilmokea Gardens is owned by Mark & Emma Hewlett

“Ancient garden heritage goes back to earliest settlers. In the seventh Century the patron Saint of gardening, Saint Fiachra was adopted. He holds a special place in our hearts as the Kilmokea Monastic site dates back to this time. It is situated next to the walled garden.

Kilmokea Bed and Breakfast Japanese Garden
Pagoda at Kilmokea

When the Church of Ireland purchased the Monastic lands to build the rectory for the Rector of White Church, the fruit and vegetables for the house were grown in the walled Garden. Today it is home to a series of interchanging garden rooms with herbaceous planting, rose gardens and sheltered garden seats positioned to reflect on the beauty of the place. My favourite place is our Italian Loggia and pool which I have adopted as my summer office. As the business has grown, I become more office bound so I may as well be close to the garden on my laptop! Without doubt Roses are my favourite summer flowers and Hellebores in the spring. Many of the healing properties of the flowers and plants in the garden are now bottled as last lockdown I completed a flower essence course and these will be available to purchase in the Conservatory. To further assist the health and wellbeing of our guests we are introducing the concept of ‘Forest Bathing’ in the woodland garden. This Japanese practise known as ‘Shinrin Yoku is a simple method of being calm and quite amongst trees, observing nature around you while breathing deeply. A wonderful way to de-stress and boost the immune system at the same time.

We have been maintaining the seven acres of gardens for 24 years now and have weathered many storms! One of the first things we did was to build a large wooden Conservatory which is our Café where we offer guests lunch and afternoon tea. We then created a new food garden where fruit and vegetables are grown using organic methods for the kitchen which feeds guests staying in the house, self catering cottages and are essential ingredients for our lunch menu the conservatory café. This is really important to us as our philosophy of “ground to fork” is ingrained in our objectives.

Since the food travels only a few feet to reach the plate in the Conservatory Café, it is more sustainable. We strive to offer local & sustainable food and food grown with Organic methods to our guests and our family.

Our parents were all keen gardeners and fostered an interest in Gardens and nature and the outdoors. When we first started caring for the gardens my father would drive down from Dublin arriving at 8am, peel himself out of his low Honda and put on his overalls to mow the lawns and tend to the Roses. He was great inspiration and got involved in many of our early projects, giving advise, even when it wasn’t needed! Over the years we have created a large new food garden, which is very close to our hearts. We have built board walks and wooden structures in the woodland garden, designed fairy houses & viking boats and planted many hundreds of plants not to mention spending many hundreds of hours weeding! We now employ a full time gardener who gardens five days a week. We are very involved with decision making, planning new plantings, building structures, graveling pathways and discussing all the planting of seeds for the Vegetables and Flowers.

We are totally indebted to Marty Reville our gardener who tends to the gardens with the love and passion which we hold for the gardens. With him we have created no-dig vegetable beds and he is extending biodiversity throughout the gardens. Large bug hotels are the latest structures! We really hope Government restrictions allow us to open Kilmokea Gardens to visitors this season, and we look forward to welcoming you”.

Kilmokea garden maze
The maze at Kilmokea, County Wexford

Great Island, Campile, Co Wexford

Telephone: 051 388109, 086 6641946, stay@kilmokea.com,  www.kilmokea.com

Opening Hours:
Opening hours. 10am to 5pm
March 17th to end of May. September & October. Wednesday to Sunday
June, July, August. Every Day.

Entrance Fee:
Adults €7; OAP €6; Children under 16 €4; Children under 2 Free; Groups welcome. Up to 12.5% discount for groups of over 20

Marlfield House Gardens

Marlfield House is owned by The Bowe Family and managed by Margaret and Laura Bowe

When our parents Mary and Ray Bowe bought Marlfield House just outside Gorey in 1977 it was with the intention of opening the house and gardens to guests as a country house hotel. The Dower house of the Courtown Estate, the Earls of Courtown had entertained lavishly in both Marlfield and the nearby Courtown House. With Marlfield’s opening as a hotel in 1978 it began again to welcome guests from all over the world.

The garden was smaller then and has been developed and extended extensively by Mary and Ray in the early days. On 36 acres in total there are 12 acres in woodland walks and garden today. While the gardens have always been enjoyed by hotel guests, since opening ‘The Duck Restaurant’ in 2015 the number of people coming to enjoy a coffee, lunch or dinner and a wander in the gardens has multiplied tenfold. The restaurant is located in a long stone building with French doors opening onto a sandstone terrace overlooking the kitchen garden filled with vegetables, soft fruits, a plethora of herbs and beds of blooming roses! Our guests enjoy seeing chefs picking herbs, vegetables and salad as they dine al fresco on the south facing Terrace. The ‘garden to plate’ ethos could not be more evident!
It brings us great pleasure to see our garden enjoyed by so many.

Woodlands form the back drop of the garden, with meandering paths through a kitchen garden of herbs, vegetables and fruits. Long borders of shrubs and herbaceous perennials flank a yew hedge and lead to the lawns and formal gardens.

The duck pond forms a completely separate garden to the front of the hotel and the island, reached by a wooden bridge, has beautiful specimen shrubs and trees. It has only recently become the location of five private stand alone pond suites where guests can sleep, each in its own grounds amid oak and chestnut trees, surrounded by nature. The many paddling ducks, waterhen, squirrels, rabbits and George our peacock are happy to share this piece of the garden with those sleeping in the pond suites!

Spring is our favourite season and our gardener Sean Kehoe plants thousands of daffodils and tulips annually. Unfortunately in 2020 the pleasure of seeing the carpets of daffodils and rainbows of tulips and Camellias was confined to those on social media , and it seems that history might repeat itself this Spring! But our herb and rose gardens will be filled with a plethora of colour of blooms and fragrances and enjoyed by many this Summer when we are very hopeful that Covid restrictions will lift.

We are Looking forward to welcoming lots of people back to Marlfield and our gardens this year. Now more than ever we all need to Enjoy nature and spending time with each other, enjoy the outdoors, the beauty of our county and its gardens and produce and be grateful for the beautiful gardens in the Wexford Garden Trail.

Marlfield Gardens
Marlfield Gardens, County Wexford

Courtown Road R742, Gorey, Co Wexford

Telephone: 053 9421124, info@marlfieldhouse.ie, www.marlfieldhouse.com

Opening Hours:
Garden visit and Lunch/Afternoon Tea by appointment (March to December)

Entrance Fee:
€12.00 which includes morning coffee or afternoon tea with dressed scones in Marlfield House Hotel

Wexford Lavender Farm

Wexford Lavender Farm, owned and managed by Moira Hart

My name is Moira Hart, I am the Owner and Manager of Wexford Lavender Farm, a privately run garden and tourism business located 10 km north of Gorey in North Co. Wexford.

We opened to the public in April 2014 with 2 acres of lavender plants in a field located close to old disused stables, which we had converted into our Café/Giftshop prior to opening.

We are currently Irelands’ only dedicated commercial lavender farm and added a second 2 acre field in 2018 with 5,000 more lavender plants. We planted rows of English Lavender Hidcote, English Lavender Rosea, Dutch lavender Grosso and some English Lavender Munstead. My late mum (Betty) was a keen organic gardener, animal lover and bee keeper, my love of gardening, lavender and animals comes from her and after visiting many lavender farms in England (I grew up in rural Dorset) decided to set up my own business here in Ireland. We’re (mostly) fortunate with the weather here in Co. Wexford and grow the English Lavender varieties which are hardy.

Wexford Lavender FarmFarming anything involves lots of hard work, a passion for what you love and lots of energy, especially in the busy Summer months when the lavender is in bloom and visitor numbers are high. We keep ducks, chickens, goats, ponies and horses too, which all need looking after 365 days a year, whatever the weather. Being self-employed it’s important to be self-motivated and drive yourself forward.

When we first opened the business our daughters (Clara & Martha) were 6 and 9, I didn’t have any experience running a business, managing staff or working in a café so to say it was a steep learning curve would be a big understatement! Seven years later our daughters are now involved working in the business in the summer months when school is closed. We have a fantastic, hardworking team working alongside us, being a seasonal business can be difficult with staffing as its ‘all hands-on-deck’ during the summer then nothing during the winter.

We were at the beginning of planning and building a wooden Maze as an extension to the Lavender Farm in January 2020 when COVID-19 arrived unwelcomed into our lives, with this unknown threat and all the uncertainty it brought, I decided reluctantly to halt plans for 2020. We eventually re-opened on 30th June 2020 and had a strong but short domestic season in between Lockdown one and two, with so many people not being able to travel abroad. The Maze plans are back on track and will be built before June 2021. This will be a welcome addition to the business, as well as being the only wooden Maze in Ireland, it will not be dependent on the lavender flowering season (mid June through early September).

The first Covid lockdown was a welcome break, with fantastic weather and time-off that I hadn’t had through the spring/early summer since opening but this latest Lockdown has been tough on everyone and the very wet winter has made getting outdoor maintenance jobs impossible for the time-being.

We are SO looking forward to Summer, lavender, visitors, long days and being outside with nature and the things we love!

Wexford Lavender Farm
Wexford Lavender Farm, County Wexford

Coolnagloose, Inch, Gorey, Wexford, Y25 NW42

Telephone: 087 068 6774, info@wexfordlavenderfarm.com, www.wexfordlavenderfarm.com

Opening Hours:
Closed January, February & March.
Opening 1st May (if restrictions allow) to Mid September:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.30am – 5pm (plus Bank Holiday’s)
Mid September to December:
Saturday & Sunday: 10.30am – 5pm

Entrance Fee:
€5 per car in June, July & August

Woodville Gardens

Gerald Roche is a farmer and gardener at Woodville, New Ross where his family have lived since 1876.

As a farmer I know that I am simply a custodian of the farm for subsequent generations. A garden is just the same. A garden is shaped by the tastes and fashions of each generation that works in it but it goes on from one generation to the next. So it is with the gardens at Woodville, the apple and pear trees were planted by my grandmother, I think in the 1930s, so they are well past their prime though still productive and a strong structural element in the garden as many of them are espaliered. My interest in gardening came later in life with the realisation that gardening is an all absorbing occupation, once bitten by the gardening bug, there is no escape. The garden is not a chore, as a gardener, one wants to be in the garden planning, planting, shaping, altering, propagating.

Woodville Gardens
Woodville Gardens

At Woodville the walled garden was laid out when the house was built in the early 1800s. It was extended and remodelled in the 1830s and further developed in the 1880s when it was acquired by PJ Roche. He extended the house and built a conservatory. He also extended the existing glasshouse by building a vinery. These houses came from the Messenger Company in England and having restored the conservatory a few years ago and more recently, the peach house, the Messenger greenhouse, home to the vines, is my next project. I have sourced the timber and the help, we will probably lose this year’s crop of grapes unless we have a very warm summer.

In the last decade of the 19th century, plentiful labour and cheap coal meant these glasshouses were both productive and ornamental, these days they are a labour of love. The boilers are gone and they rely on solar gain to heat them, an uneven source of energy even with climate change. I try to garden in as sustainable and environmentally friendly way as I can, using manure and compost produced on site and to choose plants that will flourish in this microclimate.

These days, I look after the garden with the help of the family, a Teagasc student if one is available and the (very) occasional contractor. Help comes in the form of S.482 tax relief in return for which the gardens are opened to the public for two months each year. Covid 19 put a big dent in the visitor numbers in 2020 and I expect the same for 2021 as we rely on garden tours from abroad for much of our income.

Wet weather such as we have endured in January/February 2021 causes anxiety and impatience, even in a garden with free draining soil such as ours and spring sunshine and March breezes are eagerly anticipated. Small highs come from spotting the first bud or flower or fruit, comparing notes from other years. Pleasure comes from the harvest of fruit and vegetables, sweet new carrots, pencil thin, big bowls of autumn raspberries, sculptural romanasco, artichokes, validating puddles of melted butter on the plate. Satisfaction is a freezer filled with vegetables after summer evenings podding and chopping, blanching and bagging. Sweetcorn, broccoli and beans both broad and French, raspberries and blackcurrants all are saved and whatever else is surplus to the day’s requirements. Not for the gardener long days on the beach, those sunny days are spent mowing and edging lawns, harvesting and weeding and at the end of the day, a dash to the sea to cool down and wash off the dust. Just as paper never refuses ink, gardens soak up labour. There is never enough time, power tools have speeded up tasks but there is always more to be done.

In another era, an army of gardeners assisted by carpenters and painters maintained these gardens. Today we do what we can as best we can and relish producing food for the table – nil food miles, kind to the environment. It is an ongoing challenge but one we cherish.

Woodville Gardens
Woodville Gardens, County Wexford

New Ross, Co Wexford

Telephone: 051 422957, 087 9709828, woodville05@eircom.net, www.woodvillegardens.ie

Opening Hours:
May – June: 10am – 2pm, or by appointment

Entrance Fee:
€5.00

Emma & Mark Hewlett

Your hosts at Kilmokea are the Hewlett family, who have spent the last 20 years restoring the property to its former glory and who welcome guests because they like looking after people. Emma and Mark have three boys. Joshua is your waiter in the evening and Myles & Cosmo help below stairs. Several animals, including a retired horse live here, the hens providing eggs for breakfast. They have spent a lot of effort restoring the gardens - think an Irish Heligan with giant rhubarb, tree ferns and bamboo - in particular restoring the vegetable garden into a fully organic fruit and vegetable potager, providing super-fresh ingredients direct to the plate.

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