May 18, 2024

gardens_img3Powerscourt in Enniskerry is one of Ireland’s most famous country houses and gardens.  Not far outside of Dublin city, it stands in the crooked shadow of Sugar Loaf and the rolling Wicklow Hills.

The beginning of the estate’s grand gardens were first laid out in the 1730’s by Daniel Robertson, an acolyte of the Italianate design that was becoming all the rage in France and Germany at the time.    Influenced by the terraces and formal features of Italian Renaissance villas, the design actually corrects the vagaries of the natural landscape by leading the eye with the aid of symmetrical plantings from the house, over the lake and out to the hills beyond.

valley_img2A hundred years later an enormous variety of trees were planted and the grounds were adorned with a collection of statuary, ironworks and decorative objects.  Further generations maintained and added to the gardens, creating a Walled Garden of elaborate gates and colorful rose beds; a Dolphin Pond, named for the creatures that adorn the central fountain; concentric paths lead you around the pagoda, bridges, and stone lanterns of the Japanese Garden; and Tower Valley, a woodland of rare North American conifers headed by a crenelated Pepper Pot Tower, which was built to commemorate a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1911.

Of all the gardens, however, none is more touching than the small pet cemetery.  It serves as a reminder that for all the extravagance on display this was first and foremost a family home for many generations.  Here are two of my favorites, if it can be considered appropriate to have a favorite tombstone.  (Click each to enlarge)


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