formal rose gardens, roses, box hedging, pots, paths, stonework

Visit to Ballintubbert gardens

garden design, water feature, canal, pool

The grand canal water feature at Ballintubbert

In the summer, our design studio took a study tour to visit some gardens across the southwest of Ireland.  En route to Cork, we stopped to have a look at a fascinating, complex, garden that has recently been reinvigorated near Stradbally in Co. Laois.

Ballintubbert House, is a garden of around 14 acres, consisting of multiple garden ’rooms’ of various sizes, surrounding a Georgian manor house.  It is documented that pilgrimages were made to Ballintubbert (the name comes from the Irish ’Baile and Tobair’ – meaning town of the wells) to take the healing water.  Now visitors can take in the gardens and experience the healing effects of the lovely gardens.

garden design, plans, planting , hedges, paths

The variety of garden rooms is what makes Ballintubbert really special

The gardens have been developed since the 1850s and we observed beautiful mature trees on the site that appear to date from that period but much of the garden development work has been completed in the last 20 years or so.  Notable previous owners of the property include the poet, Cecil Day Lewis who was born and lived there  during the mid twentieth century, the actor Sebastian Shaw, who famously played Darth Vader, lived here and was a practicing herbalist, as well as the screen actor Sir John Hurt who resided in the house during the 1990s and employed the famous Irish gardener Arthur Shackleton to contribute to the horticultural complexity of the property.  More recently, Fergus & Orna Hoban decided to develop a highly designed garden following the Arts and Crafts tradition using a series of garden rooms to create an ever-changing journey through the grounds.  They developed the gardens with expertise contributed by horticulturalist Andrew Farrelly along with other designers and horticulturalists brought in (we understand, but are not sure who they are).  Zones recently created include a grand canal, the Lutyens Garden, the Rose Garden, the Robinson Meadows and the Beech Wood.

On the day of our visit, we were met by enthusiastic current head gardener, Jennifer, who gave us a fabulous and interesting tour of the gardens.

garden design, plans, analysis, layout, garden rooms concepts

Our analysis of the garden design layout of Ballintubbert

Being landscape architects, we decided we needed to map the site in order to make some sense of the complexity of the garden design.  We have done our own analysis of the garden layout and key features as illustrated in our interpretation map.

nuttery, orchard, edible gardens

The nuttery formed from coppiced Hazel trees

Key plantings include the Lime allee, next to the canal, the rose garden , the sunken Lutyens garden pool with surrounding lush planting in Gertrude Jekyll style (a Viburnum species remains as yet unidentified here), the orchard with wildflower meadows and the arboretum that includes specimen Pterocarya fraxinifolia (Wingnut) and Liquidamber, amongst other trees.  Elsewhere, we found a group of Nothofagus antartica (Southern Beech) and a beautiful hazel nuttery.

garden designs, water feature, pools, relaxation pool, fountain

The “Lutyens” sunken garden and pool with fountain makes for a dramatic garden space

The gardens are still being added to and to one side lies an expansive meadow garden surrounded by hedging with a mound to one end.  This is both used as a performance area for outdoor theatre and as a setting for weddings.

wildflowers, garden room, outdoor, event

The wedding garden with marquee to the rear of wildflower meadow planting

We would like to thank Dominique for providing us with the opportunity to go around the gardens, which are open to the public and Jennifer for giving us such an entertaining tour.  You can also book the house for events, such as weddings.

Email Dominique at

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