The gardens at Johnstown Castle Estate Museum & Gardens in Co. Wexford have undergone substantial renewal and replanting projects over the last three years, and work continues apace during the summer months on the restoration of the 19th century glasshouses and the new planting scheme in the walled gardens.
"We are delighted to see visitors discovering and enjoying our re-designed sunken garden, the new planting scheme of the four-acre walled gardens and the restoration of the Richardson glasshouse," said Matt Wheeler, curator at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens.
These extensive projects began in 2020 and are being overseen by the Irish Heritage Trust, a non-profit organisation, which cares for and manages the property since 2019. The trust is continually reinvesting in the historic property including the gardens and lake walks, so they can be enjoyed by locals and visitors throughout the seasons for centuries to come.
The 50-metre, lean-to glasshouse in the Walled Gardens was in a state of disrepair, and conservation work included its vent and, in its centre, the "Temperate House". Visitor access to the remaining areas of the glasshouse will be opened on a phased basis over the coming year when restoration work on the flagstone floor is completed. A second, smaller Richardson glasshouse will undergo conservation in the coming months.
"The Walled Gardens were originally laid out between 1844-1851 and are being painstakingly redesigned by our talented Garden team led by Ciarán Fitzgerald, and assisted by our wonderful Irish Heritage Trust garden volunteers who have been hugely involved in this ambitious project. Phase one of the three-year projects took place during 2022 including a new pathway system and 2023 is the first season of the new planting scheme on display in the herbaceous border with 3,000 new plants grown on-site using organic peat-free compost by the garden team," added Wheeler.
Ciarán Fitzgerald, Irish Heritage Trust head gardener at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens, said,"The new planting scheme in the walled gardens serves both aesthetics and functionality and is aligned with the Irish Heritage Trust's sustainability and biodiversity objectives. Visitors can look forward to year-round surprises, with winter being unexpectedly decorative including the prominent seedheads of plants such as phlomis and echinops, set against the paler wispier grasses. When the second phase starts in August, visitors to the heritage property can see our works in progress on the herbaceous border."
The walled gardens were laid out by 19th-century garden designer Daniel Robertson, who also designed the gardens at the Powerscourt Estate and Wells House.
"The layout of the walled garden has changed so much since its construction that the only original feature of the garden are the walls themselves. By embracing the changing nature of the space, we looked to the future when designing the new layout of the walled garden. While leaning heavily on the principles of designers such as Daniel Robertson, we created a highly functional space as well as ornamental borders and edible woodland," continued Fitzgerald.
Another highlight for garden lovers visiting Johnstown Castle Estate Museum & Gardens is the redesigned sunken garden which took place between 2020-2022. It was originally designed in an ornate baroque style, which included the use of box hedging and ornamental flowers. Over the centuries its purpose changed a number of times to include a tennis court and a grass picnic area.
The new design is a nod to the ornate nature of the original design while bringing it up to date in its form and function with the creation of newly shaped lawns and a shallow pond of reflection.
For more details on the gardens, events and tours, visit JohnstownCastle.ie.
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