Dublin Botanic Gardens in early autumn

I’ve not been blogging or tweeting much in the past couple of weeks, as I’ve been on a work outing to a conference in Dublin. But that did give me the opportunity to visit the city’s Botanic Gardens, and take a few photos.

As I’d taken a wrong turn on while cycling, I ended up coming through Glasnevin cemetery and into the gardens near….

The alpine house


It was a sizable building, reminiscent of the one at RHS Wisley. Inside, each plant was well spaced from its neighbours. Rather aptly, the first thing I saw was this Ipheion uniflorum “Wisley Blue”:


Then there was this showoff Gloriosa superba, like a cascade of fireworks by one door:


and this Viola hederacea popping its flowers up eagerly:


I rounded a corner, looked back at this lovely bit of hard and soft landscaping:


Then continued past banks of irises, grasses and these remarkable Tigridia pavonia ‘Speciosa’:


To the most friendly security guard in the world, who complimented me on my bicycle, and directed me to the racks in the car park. From there, I retraced my steps to….

The conservatory at the main gate

At this point the sky started to darken, and the light levels were all over the place. So apologies for the darkness of some of the photos below!

The conservatory was quite a grand building, especially if it was the first thing you were approaching from the main entrance:


It turns out that the entire gardens were dotted with artwork in amongst the plants, and here were some kind of ghost-laundry birds hanging inside the conservatory:


They looked quite moody and dramatic, and filled the vertical space. Maybe a few vines and the like could’ve accompanied them, but there were plenty of plants at eye level:


Metres of shelf space taken up by Pelargoniums (and more of them later)! The Welsh Rose would’ve loved it.

There were some lovely Solenostemon, like this “Pineapple Beauty”:


And this, “Chocolate Mint”, interspersed with the glaucous foliage of Centaurea gymnocarpa “Colchester White”:


This Abutilon ‘Souvenir de Bonn’ rose delicately above the many pellies:


Whereas this Asplenium nidus just landed whoomph all over them and was damned if it wouldn’t:


Through the back door I went, and round the corner to….

The visitors’ centre and sensory garden

The building overlooked some very inventive bedding:


Closer to it was this rather lovely Hebe “Purple passion” in amongst the crowding Hosta:


Further away, the succulent beds were a bit of comparatively silly fun, but no less impressive for it:


These took you to the sensory garden, which I think suffered a bit from being too close to Botanic Road, and the intentionally dribbly water feature just couldn’t compete with car noise:


But there was this adorable little Skimmia japonica (another “Wisley”: a theme?)


And my heart was broken by how the sunlight illuminated the peeling bark of what I think was a Prunus serrula:


More restfully, in the opposite corner from the fountain, was this bench hidden in a grove of climbers over pergolas:



But I didn’t have much time to tarry: there was rain forecast, and I wanted to cycle back via Phoenix Park. So I continued on past the sadly closed fernery and succulent houses (many of the plants were to be found elsewhere, I think) to….

The Curvilinear Range (!)

This was a long, partitioned glasshouse similar to those at Sheffield Botanic Gardens. They contained a broad sweep of plants, from Micronesia and Polynesia, through south-east Asia, to the Mediterranean.

My camera was eerily incapable of capturing the purpleness of this Tibouchina urvilleana:


But it quite nicely captured the exuberance of this Streptocarpus thompsonii:


The kale-like leaves on this Pelargonium tricuspidatum gave off an odour when rubbed, reminding me of the compacted-sugar alphabet letters I used to eat when I was a child:


Whereas this P. “Attar of roses” reminded me that I have one on order from Fibrex nurseries, to hopefully arrive later this month:


In parts of the glasshouse, the autumn sun made everything glow, cosily:


When it wasn’t ruining the contrast on my photos, that is!

This Bougainvillea glabra “Variegata” was making a bid to revert to “Unvariegata”, but clearly flourishing on its extra chlorophyll:


This Aeonium nobile was as big as yer ‘ead:


This Amaranthus caudatus was lolling about the place like a teenager that had just been dumped:


And this Ipomoea “Clark’s Heavenly Blue” did something funny to the colours on my phone again, but I think I’ve captured its weird minty-blue glow:


At the far side of the Range was a kind of cycadic fernery:


Complete with a powerful water feature, to keep the atmosphere damp. There were lots of rhododendrons there, if you like that sort of thing; I’m not a fan, but this “Sunny” leapt out at me:


At this point I went back outside to:

The family beds and others

The family beds were good but didn’t photograph well: the light was too low, and at this time of year a lot of the flowers were over anyway. The abiding floral memory I have is of this Lathyrus latifolius, which made me wonder how my own Pisum sativum were getting on at home:


There was a bed of annuals and tender plants that kept surprising me:


Along with the usual suspects (Rudbeckia, late asters) were some rainbow chard “Bright Lights” planted with… a banana:


(Ensete ventricosum “Maurelli” to be precise.) There were some lovely views up the hill, past sculptures and plants, to the central Palm House:


I don’t know what these two made of it all:


There was a replica Viking house, illustrating one of the earliest Dublin habitations, from the 9th and 10th centuries:


The planting around it was intended to be horticulturally accurate, and alongside brassicas (maybe a bit too well-differentiated in variety for the 10th century?) there was flax, madder, woad and weld.

Further down, there was a big styled bed of lavender, salvia, veronicastrum (?) and banks of Dahlia:


Including these bright, bouncy “Mascot Maya”:


And this much more artful “Curiosity”:


And the rest?

It was at around this point that the weather started to look seriously foreboding, and so I headed off after only a cursory look around the temporary succulents and palm house. I hadn’t even made it to the wider fields behind the house either, so it would all have to wait for another day. Indeed, another excursion entirely, as I would have to get the ferry the next morning.

But: thank you, Dublin Botanic Gardens! The grounds were majestic, the plants extraordinary, the staff welcoming and the food in the visitors’ centre just the ticket for a cool, autumn afternoon. If you’re ever in the city, head over in that direction. It was a real treat.

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