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Delectable Dublin Botanic Gardens

Updated on January 10, 2018

Expecting the Unexpected

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Art Deco DamesStone SoupThe Unexamined Life...Very Naughty Seagull...Poetry in Stone...Essence of LifeWired UpDirector's Residence
Art Deco Dames
Art Deco Dames
Stone Soup
Stone Soup
The Unexamined Life...
The Unexamined Life...
Very Naughty Seagull...
Very Naughty Seagull...
Poetry in Stone...
Poetry in Stone...
Essence of Life
Essence of Life
Wired Up
Wired Up
Director's Residence
Director's Residence

Arriving at the Gardens

Before making the journey to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in the Dublin suburb of Glasnevin, check out the meteorological forecast; Irish weather is most unpredictable. On arrival, you will see the visitor’s centre, where you will find bathroom facilities, a restaurant and café where you can enjoy lunch and afternoon tea, and join one of the tours that begin here. But you may prefer to wander about the garden with the map as your guide, a bargain at one Euro. The good news is that entrance to the Botanic Gardens is free.

In 1775, the Dublin Society founded the Gardens for the purpose of advancing knowledge of plant life. Ever since then, various directors have organised the design of the area. In 1877, the government took over its running and today, over 20,000 plants grow within its boundaries, which is about 20 hectares. The Gardens are a haven for photographers, artists, poets, students of botany and philosophers. Apparently, Wittgenstein liked to drop in daily when he was living in Dublin.

Be aware that picnics, tree-climbing, fishing, hunting, cycling and the playing of loud music are forbidden activities in the fragile environment of the gardens.

Remember the old adage: take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints!

From Socrates to Seagulls

With the map as your guide, you can take the left, right or centre path through the gardens. Do not forget to look out for the witty statues along the way, like the Art Deco Dames (my title!) and the cool sculpture of a little boy gazing into a stone basin. You will also find poetry in stone. Cross the Mill Race and still keeping right, you will see another bridge, across which lies the rose garden. Trek alongside the Tolka River until you arrive at the statue of Socrates. Here, it is impossible not to rest and ponder on life awhile until you feel like moving on.

Walk until you find the serpentine pond. Be aware that the featured seagull is not a sculpture but a very naughty animal that would not pose for my photograph. About half-way along the pond, you will find the DNA-inspired sculpture by architect Charles Jencks. The Wireframe Man is a bizarre sculpture that lurks in the vegetable garden, on the other side of the Botanic Gardens. The ornamental elephant sits outside the Director's Residence.

Glasshouse Magic

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Curvilinear interiorCurvilinear interiorCurvilinear interiorWitttgenstein remembered Palm House exteriorPalm House Interior Interior Waterfall
Curvilinear interior
Curvilinear interior
Curvilinear interior
Curvilinear interior
Curvilinear interior
Curvilinear interior
Witttgenstein remembered
Witttgenstein remembered
Palm House exterior
Palm House exterior
Palm House Interior
Palm House Interior
Interior Waterfall
Interior Waterfall

The Glasshouses

Dublin's Botanic Gardens has a number of glass house. The Curvilinear Range was built by the celebrated Dublin ironmaster, Richard Turner, in 1849, of both cast iron and wrought iron. See how the iron work imitates the organic nature of tendrils and branches. The Curvilinear Range has received a Europa Nostra award for excellence in conservation architecture. The tallest building in the Gardens is the Great Palm House, originally built in 1884 and the featured plaque marks the place where Wittgenstein sat on the step while he worked . Plants in the Great Palm House include giant bamboos and bananas.

Tropical Plants

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Aloe VeraBanana PalmNecregalia princepsFlytrapGeranicae
Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera
Banana Palm
Banana Palm
Necregalia princeps
Necregalia princeps
Flytrap
Flytrap
Geranicae
Geranicae

Flower Power

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Coming up RosesPink and PrettyBright and BeautifulCactus CollageRose TrellisPastel Picture
Coming up Roses
Coming up Roses
Pink and Pretty
Pink and Pretty
Bright and Beautiful
Bright and Beautiful
Cactus Collage
Cactus Collage
Rose Trellis
Rose Trellis
Pastel Picture
Pastel Picture

Fascinating Florals

The directors have made a policy of cultivating plants that suit all climates, from semi-deserts to lush, cottage gardens, Check out the contrasting vista of florals on the south-east side of the Gardens. Beds of vibrant purple and glowing yellow blossoms flourish on one side of the alley and gentle pastels on the other. In the summertime, the rose garden is a profusion of colour, a riot of pinks and lemons, reds and oranges. The best time to see this display is during June, July and August.

Roses all the way....

Day of the Triffids

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Super SunflowerRollicking RhubarbTerrific Thistle
Super Sunflower
Super Sunflower
Rollicking Rhubarb
Rollicking Rhubarb
Terrific Thistle
Terrific Thistle

Extraordinary Vegetation

While still in the Mill Field, look out for the giant rhubarb, with leaves that sheltered me from the torrential rain. Not far from the Wireframe Man in the vegetable garden, you will find massive sunflowers and Triffid-like thistles.

Into the Forest

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Giant PineThick TrunkSunshine After RainThe RockeryWinter Landscape
Giant Pine
Giant Pine
Thick Trunk
Thick Trunk
Sunshine After Rain
Sunshine After Rain
The Rockery
The Rockery
Winter Landscape
Winter Landscape

The forest

Continue along the path as it winds back towards the river, and you will eventually arrive at the extreme north-west perimeter of the garden. Turn in a south-easterly direction and work your way past the many species of deciduous trees that feature in the lexicon of Irish fauna; larch, hawthorn, beech, chestnut and several others. When you arrive at the yew tree that marks the entrance to the fruit and vegetable garden, turn left and walk until you arrive at Pine Hill, an elevated point that overlooks a glorious vista of elevated pines. From here, you can descend to the delectable plant varieties of the rock garden. Whichever way you go, do not neglect to return to the fruit and vegetable garden.

Diverse Cultures

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Wild IrelandViking HouseThe Pond
Wild Ireland
Wild Ireland
Viking House
Viking House
The Pond
The Pond

Watch this space

Outside the cultivated garden, continue along the path until you come to “Wild Ireland”, a strange, lost and lovely arena demonstrating what happens when nature takes over once inhabited areas of land. Compare and contrast this area with the lush vegetation about the pond.

On leaving Wild Ireland, you still have wonders to behold; vistas of extravagant blossoms, hanging baskets and a reconstruction of a 10th century Viking house. But this is only the beginning; like all gardens, the Dublin Botanic Garden changes with time and the seasons – watch this space.

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