The Gardens of Ireland – Part 4 – Kylemore Abbey

I’ve saved the best for last.  I am hoping that you will share my enthusiasm for what pictures can only begin to describe as the most amazing garden in Ireland.  I speak – with hand ceremoniously held over heart – of Kylemore Abbey.  Kylemore is a castle tucked into a wooded hillside on the edge of a lake.  That alone has a pretty high drool factor.  What you can’t see from the entrance of the estate, however, are the sweeping gardens that are a shuttle drive away down a windy road nestled in the forest.

140_4010 Kylemore Abby and Gardens

The history of this beautiful estate stretches centuries from its humble beginnings to a full-fledged castle to what is now a home for a group of Benedictine nuns.  You can read more about the history of this magnificent place at the website below.  The photographs on the website focus primarily on the Flower Garden, and in my humble opinion, completely neglect to exhibit the best feature of this 8.5 acre walled garden – the Kitchen Garden.  You’ll see what I mean in a little while.  In the meanwhile, the tour through the gardens was punctuated by signage detailing the restoration process, history and one important piece of information – it contains only plant varieties from Victorian times.

The first stop on our tour was at the glasshouses, which held not only some flourishing grapevines…

Glass House with Grape vines Kylemore Abby

…but evidence of the fact that this is a real, working garden.  Not just for show:

Kylemore Abby seedlings

These pallets of seedlings lined the front of each glasshouse, complete with cold frames and hand written seed markers.

Glass house cold frames

We walked along the pathways and came to a dense area of foliage where a sign was placed by a stream.  It said that this hedge and stream divide the Flower Garden from the Kitchen Garden.  When I passed through the archway, over the stream, the sight before my eyes took my breath away.

Kylemore Abbey kitchen garden

In order to get a perspective of how large this garden is, you’ll notice that there are 3 people standing in the garden pathway in the upper left of this photograph above.  Those little blue dots are people.

Acres of formal “lazy bed” gardens filled with all varieties of vegetables.  Leeks, cabbages, artichokes, beans, squash…
Kylemore Abbey kitchen garden1

…chives, lettuces, it went on and on.

Kylemore Abbey Kitchen Garden2

The boxwood borders were lined with herbs,

Kylemore Abbey Kitchen garden3

and some beds featured companion planting of calendula to combat pests.  I nearly had to breathe into a paper bag to contain myself here.
Kylemore Abbey Kitchen Garden4

As I said, the Formal Flower Garden is prominently featured on the Kylemore Abbey website at, but I chose to focus my attention here.
In a previous conversation with someone who will remain anonymous, they expressed that vegetable gardens “just aren’t pretty”.  I challenge anyone to visit Kylemore Abbey and still feel that way about vegetable gardens.

Next stop, France!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.