Get some spring in your step


As spring begins to blossom, Ireland’s heritage gardens throw their doors open to the public – and many of them are truly spectacular at this time of year.    

Gardening is enjoying something of a renaissance, driven by an army of new gardeners who kindled a passion for the creative, relaxing joys of horticulture during the COVID lockdowns. In 2022, the Irish gardening market grew significantly. It is now 26percent larger than in 2020, and 88percent up on pre-COVID levels[1].   

Whether you are new to gardening or an experienced horticulturalist, a visit to a heritage garden can provide inspiration for your own endeavours or simply afford you the chance to gather your thoughts and recharge the batteries.

Here are just a few of the finest heritage gardens Ireland has to offer.

A slice of paradise

If you’re looking for tranquillity, there are few places as peaceful as Garinish Island off the coast of Cork. Only accessible by a 15-minute ferry journey, the gardens are an oasis away from everyday life. Abandoned for nearly two decades, Garinish Island has a forlorn beauty with its faded Italianate Renaissance-style buildings and sculptures.

A humid microclimate provided by warm Atlantic winds means that many rare and tropical plants thrive on the island, while seals are often spotted on nearby rocks basking in the sun.

Not for the faint hearted

Elsewhere in Cork are the sprawling grounds of the medieval stronghold of Blarney Castle, where a dizzying 60 acres of thick woods and manicured lawns conceal an unusual treasure.

Nestled behind the castle battlements is a Poison Garden full of deadly plants. Castor oil plants - which kill in seconds if consumed - grow alongside other poisonous species including opium poppy, nightshade, and hemlock, the plant favoured by the Ancient Greeks to execute their condemned. 

The garden explores their historical uses in medicine, as well as their sinister modern applications. If you go, don’t touch anything… and we don’t recommend growing life-threatening plants at home.

Picture perfect

Gardening inspiration can be found in abundance in Wicklow.

Framed by the imposing Wicklow Mountains, Mount Usher Gardens is a joyous fusion of exotic plants from around the world, planted in harmony with indigenous wild flowers.

The nearby River Varty streams through the winding paths in cascades of crystal. In spring, the gentle hum of water provides a serene accompaniment to the blazing purple of the blossoming rhododendrons.

A city escape 

Lovers of plants can even find inspiration amongst the hustle and bustle of Dublin.

Just 5km from the city centre are the National Botanic Gardens.

With a collection built up since 1795, its giant greenhouses and luscious grounds display over 15,000 plant species from around the world. The garden is a centre for conservation, 

cultivating 300 species of endangered plants, including six that are already extinct in the wild.

Quality cover is essential for heritage gardens

While these are some of Ireland’s most famous heritage gardens, there are countless other gardens throughout the country which offer horticultural delights and relaxation.

For your clients opening their doors to the public this spring, they need quality insurance in place to achieve the same peace of mind.

Heritage gardens are a fragile treasure. They must be lovingly maintained at a substantial cost while many of the plants are unable to thrive during the winter months. As a result, many gardens have limited opening hours while others are only open for a couple of months each year.

DUAL offers comprehensive cover for heritage gardens that are open to the public for up to 60 days a year, included automatically as part of our Private Client policy. 

We provide generous limits included for the garden and landscaping, of up to 10% of the building sum insured and up to €5000 for each shrub or tree. 

The policy also provides high limits for bodily injury and public liability, always an essential wherever the public are involved, even in places that don’t have dangerous poison gardens.

The properties adjunct to spectacular gardens are usually impressive, too. Often they will house art and antique collections, and DUAL is a valuable partner here, too. Our home and contents coverage has high single limits for valuables in the home that far exceed the limits offered by standard market policies.

For household insurance that will give your clients peace of mind this gardening season, speak to DUAL.

Shauna Fogarty is a High Net Worth Underwriter for DUAL Underwriting Ireland DAC.