Here is the final itinerary for you to consider whether you would like to join us.
The price is £600 per person (single supplement is £120). This may seem rather high compared to previous trips but I would ask you to consider that we are staying in the centre of Dublin, Southern Ireland's first city, within walking distance from the historical and commercial centres. The hotel is the Camden Court Hotel, Camden Lane, Dublin 2. The excellent facilities include a leisure centre with pool, bars and restaurants. For those saying they are coming by car, it has a car park, which is complimentary for residents - a major bonus for city centre hotels.
Most gardening trips to Dublin stay on the outskirts of Dublin which makes it difficult to explore the city from the hotel. The hotel is chosen so members of the group are free to enjoy the culture, restaurant society and the many famous bars all within walking distance of the hotel. One morning we will concentrate on looking at Dublin's architecture and history before garden visiting after lunch. Should you wish to explore more, you have a little time available on day five. Our position does allow you the freedom to dip in and out of our programme to fit in with your particular interests.
The price will include all entrances to gardens, some light meals, the coach and gratuities. Should you wish to stay additional nights in Dublin, this is best arranged by going on line - allow £60 per person bed and breakfast.
The programme has been designed to use all time economically. Our early flight from Birmingham allows us to visit two gardens on our travel day before reaching our hotel. On the last day, Friday, we have another full programme before returning to the airport about 4.00pm for our return flight at 18.15pm. That gives us five full days of exploring.
We plan to fly from Birmingham airport using Aer Lingus. The cost of the flight is additional to the holiday price. At present the cost is round £80 for a return ticket including baggage. The earlier the flights are booked, the cheaper the price. However I recommend you do not book the flights yourself, in case there is insufficient enthusiasm and we are unable to run the trip. Please allow Heritage Travel to organise the tickets but make an early decision so availing yourself of a good price. We will meet at the airport as a group This allows each person to maximise their sleep and reduce the time spent sitting on a coach with many pickup points. For members who prefer to make their own way to Dublin we can make individual arrangements to meet there.
We have had assistance from John Beattie, who is the Dublin Garden Group coordinator, in planning the itinerary. He has recommended many of the private gardens we visit and has advised on journey times with important fuelling and watering stops. I do hope you are as excited as I am at this opportunity to see gardens long read about, and have the opportunity to wander the streets of Dublin's fair city. Please contact me for a booking form. We would like to have a firm commitment with deposit by the end of January 2012 so flights can be booked. Please contact me if you have any queries.
We will depart from Birmingham airport on an early morning flight to Dublin. (Please note that flights are not included in the tour price. We suggest flights with Aer Lingus. The 2011 schedule offers a flight departing at 08.10 arriving Dublin 09.10 but this may be subject to change for 2012.) Upon arrival in Dublin we will be met by a local coach and travel north to visit Malahide Castle Gardens. The gardens which are located behind the castle itself cover 22 acres and were created by Lord Milo Talbot between 1948 and 1973 to display his collection of plants from the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australasia. The collection is constantly being expanded and now numbers almost 5,000 species. Upon arrival, lunch may be taken in the tea room or the restaurant prior to a free flow visit of the gardens.
The afternoon will continue with a visit to the Garden of Helen Dillon. The gardens are the work of world renowned plants woman Helen Dillon, and her husband, Val, and it is one of the most visited gardens in Ireland, offering an ever-changing display of design and colour. A dominant feature is a thirty foot long canal which is flanked by exuberant borders in hues of blue one side and red the other. At the end of the afternoon, we will check into the 3 star Camden Court Hotel for 4 nights' bed and breakfast accommodation. Dinner will be served in the hotel restaurant this evening.
After breakfast at the hotel, we shall meet our guide and spend the morning south of the River Liffey with a walking tour of Georgian Dublin. This will include Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square where we can see the Georgian architecture from Dublin's Age of Elegance. The tour will also include St Stephen's Green and a visit to Newman House. Laid out in 1880, the 22-acre St Stephen's Green is an elegant expression of Georgian architectural style and is charmingly landscaped with flowerbeds, trees, a fountain and a lake. On the south side of the square, Newman House is home to the Catholic University of Ireland and is named after the English theologian John Henry Newman who was its first rector. The two Georgian houses contain Dublin's finest surviving 18th century décor, with especially intricate stucco-work by the Swiss Francini brothers adorning the walls and ceilings of the Apollo Room and Saloon.
We will continue with a visit to Dublin Castle. The symbol of English rule for 700 years, Dublin Castle retains the 13th century Record Tower and 14th century Bermingham Tower amongst its earliest architectural features. Following a devastating fire in 1684, the Upper and Lower Castle Yards were laid out in their present form. The luxurious State Apartments on the south side of the Upper Yard include St Patrick's Hall with 18th century ceiling paintings by Vincenzo Valdre, and the Throne Room where the throne is said to have been presented by William of Orange after his victory at the Battle of the Boyne. Also of interest within the Castle are the Picture Gallery, Wedgewood Room and the Neo-Gothic Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Following the visit lunch may be taken in the Castle café.
This afternoon we will travel to Blackrock to visit Carysfort Lodge. Our final visit of the day will be to Shirley Beatty's Garden which has been created in the small rear garden of her Regency villa and includes herbaceous borders, a small vegetable garden and an area of rare and unusual plants. We will enjoy tea here prior to returning to our hotel in Dublin for an evening at leisure.
Today will be devoted to gardens located on the periphery of the city. We will begin with a visit to Rathmichael Lodge at Shankill. The garden is renowned for its roses which thrive in the climate, but there are other rare and interesting plants, a vegetable garden and a hazel walk leading to a meadow. Following the visit we will enjoy coffee prior to continuing to Carmel Duignan's Garden which is nearby. Carmel Duignan, a former television presenter, has created an extraordinary collection of plants presented with flair and artistry resulting in a wonderful array of colour, shape and texture. We will have a guided tour of the garden followed by a light lunch.
In the afternoon we will travel to Bray for a visit to Corke Lodge Garden. The house was originally built as an Italianate villa around which the present owner, Alfred Cochrane, has designed a garden with a Mediterranean grove as its centrepiece. Our final visit of the day will be to Mount Salem. The garden has been developed over the last 25 years by the current owners and extends to 0.75 acres divided into several parts; the small walled Courtyard Garden is a mixture of gravel and raised beds; a semi formal garden to the rear which has semi circular beds surrounded by box hedging and a vegetable garden with greenhouses, raised beds and a fruit cage. Following the visit we will have tea prior to returning to our hotel for an evening at leisure.
After breakfast at the hotel we will travel out of the city to Newtownmountkennedy for a visit to Warblebank. The garden is a cottage style garden which has been continuously cultivated for over 100 years. Today fruits and vegetables compete for space alongside trees, herbaceous borders, roses, perennials and some unusual species. Following the visit we will have coffee.
We will continue to Camolin to visit Bay Garden. The garden has been created around the home of Frances and Iain MacDonald through excellent design, careful planning and a great knowledge of plants. Following the tour we will have a light lunch. Our final visit of the day will be to Altamont Garden near Tullow. This is considered to be the most romantic garden in Ireland and ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens. We will return to our hotel in Dublin for an evening at leisure.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast and a little time at leisure in central Dublin. Mid morning we will travel south west of the city to Blessington to visit the gardens of Hunting Brook and June Blake's Garden. Hunting Book was created by Jimi Blake, the husband of June Blake, and lies hidden in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The garden offers contemporary borders, tropical planting in a natural setting and woodland walks and has been featured in many gardening magazines. June Blake's garden is adjacent to her home, a Victorian steward's house located in the old farmyard of Tinode House. We will visit June Blake's garden first followed by coffee prior to continuing to Hunting Brook where we will enjoy a visit and a light lunch.
Mid afternoon we will rejoin our coach and travel to Dublin airport for the return flight to Birmingham. (We suggest an Aer Lingus flight departing at 18.15 arriving in Birmingham at 19.15. Please note that flights are not included in the tour price and are subject to availability at the time of booking.) Independent onward travel arrangements.