If you’re ion the lookout for things to do in Waterford this weekend, Mount Congreve Gardens is well-worth considering.
Mount Congreve House and Gardens are known as one of “the great gardens of the world” – intensively planted woodlands, a walled garden and 16km of walkways.
The garden overlooks the River Suir and here you will find thousands of different trees and shrubs. The changing seasons mean there will be something different to see each and every time you visit.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from what to do at Mount Congreve in Waterford to where to visit nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Mount Congreve Gardens in Waterford
Although a visit to Mount Congreve is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Admission is €7 for adults and €6 for seniors aged 65+ and students with valid ID. Children aged 4-15 are €3 and those under this age can enter for free (prices may change).
3. Opening hours
From February to May, the gardens are open Thursday to Sunday and bank holidays from 11am to 5.30pm. In June, July and August, they open seven days a week, 11am to 5.30pm and in September to December, Thursday to Sunday and bank holidays, 10am to 4.30pm. The last entry to the gardens is one hour before closing (opening hours may change).
About Mount Congreve Gardens
The woodland gardens at Mount Congreve were founded and inspired by Lionel N de Rothschild, the 20th century landscaper and hybridist and they are held in trust for the State. In his teens, Ambrose Congreve began planting woodlands, but it was not until 1955 that he began to clear the woodlands to create the ideal conditions for his new plants to thrive.
Great gardens of the world
Gardener Herman Dool joined him in the 1960s, when they began the process of turning Mount Congreve into one of the “great gardens of the world”. Ambrose Congreve was awarded a CBE and an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin. He credited his long life (104 years) to having a garden to care for.
There are more than 3,000 different trees and shrubs, over 2,000 Rhododendrons, some 600 Camellias, 300 Acer cultivars, 600 conifers, 250 climbers and 1,500 herbaceous plants plus many other species in the Georgian glasshouse.
Things to do at Mount Congreve Gardens
There’s plenty of things to see and do at Mount Congreve Gardens, which make it a great day-trip destination.
1. The different gardens
There are plenty of different gardens to see. The woodland garden is best seen in February through to May, and also in September when the Rhododendrons begin to flower. The bamboo garden has 30 different varieties of bamboo, while the Herman Dool Magnolia Walk allows the visitor magnificent views of the River Suir framed by hundreds of magnolias. The wild flower meadow should be seen in March and April and the walled garden has a waterlily pond, fruit and vegetables and climbing roses to admire.
2. Keep an eye out for…
There is plenty to look out for as you make your way around these magnificent gardens. The main house (not open to the public) has housed six generations of Congreves and was built in the 1750s. Look out for the Chinese pagoda in the centre of an old quarry and there is also the classic temple that overlooks the River Suir. The rock waterfall cascades over a rock formation into three small pools and the Georgian glasshouse is filled with herbaceous plants.
3. The guided tour
Why not take the expert gardeners’ tour of the gardens? Here, you get the chance to learn from the estate’s resident gardening experts and gain insight into what it takes to manage such a garden. Tips include how to lay out a walled garden to protect plants from frost, how to rotate crops for the best care of the soil, and methods that encourage the growth of grapes and peaches – even in the Irish climate!
Or what about the edible woodland tour? This will take you through the formal and woodland gardens and explore the plants, trees and shrubs that have been used through the centuries for dietary and medicinal purposes.
4. The café and shop
The garden shop offers plants for purchase as well as seasonal fruit and veg, ice-cream and soft drinks. Gardeners are on hand to answer any questions relating to growth and planting. The Dairy Café has an indoor and outdoor area where you can order coffees, teas, home-made cakes, sandwiches and soup.
Things to do near Mount Congreve Gardens
One of the beauties of Mount Congreve Gardens is that they’re a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Waterford.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Mount Congreve (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Waterford City
Waterford City is Ireland’s oldest city and has a wealth of historical attractions for the curious visitor. Take the Epic Viking walking tour to explore the city’s Viking past or visit the Medieval Museum in the city’s ancient Viking Triangle.
2. The Waterford Greenway
This 46-kilometre Waterford Greenway route will take you the scenic way along to the Mount Congreve Gardens and beyond. There are plenty of bike hire options. The energetic can choose the traditional bicycle, while others might want to opt for hybrids or electrical bikes. Either way, it’s a great option for seeing the local countryside.
3. The Copper Coast
The Copper Coast is a UNESCO global geopark that extends for 17km from Kilfarrasy in the east to Stradbally in the west. It is a spectacular record of the land’s past linked cultural and intangible heritage and community activism, and a must-see for all budding geologists. It is named for the vast copper mines that existed here in the 19th century.
FAQs about visiting Mount Congreve Gardens
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether Mount Congreve in Waterford is worth visiting to what to do nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Mount Congreve Gardens worth visiting?
Yes! It’s well worth a visit. There are plenty of gorgeous walks that you can head off on here and the grounds are lovely to explore.
What is there to do at Mount Congreve?
There’s the walks, the guided tour, the different gardens to explore and there’s also the café and shop.
Is there much to see near Mount Congreve House?
Yep – you’ve an endless number of places to see in Waterford City, a short 15-minute drive from the house and gardens.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.