The Herbert family played hosts to Queen Victoria, at Muckross, in August 1861. It is said that, in the years immediately preceding the Queen’s arrival, the gardens were groomed in anticipation of the royal visit. Paths were opened up through the woods and grounds, while viewing platforms and seating were provided. In addition, the number and variety of late-summer-flowering shrubs and flowers was increased.

Hydrangeas from Muckross won first prize at Tralee Flower Show in July 1868 (Kerry Evening Post, 29 July 1868). Today an attractive Hydrangea Border, situated to the southwest of Muckross House, still provides a colourful late summer display. As the soil is relatively acidic, the predominant colour of the flowers is blue.

In 1887 The Gardeners’ Chronicle described as ‘very choice’ the specimens of Rhododendron that thickly edged the lawns and shrubberies at Muckross. It also remarked upon the bright hues of the Azaleas, commenting that they were ‘like bushes of fire in some cases.’

Today the informal lawns at Muckross are still home to large Rhododendron clumps. These provide spectacular and colourful displays from April to July and include many first developed in Victorian times, including varieties of Rhododendron arboretum. More recently, cultivars such as ‘Mayday’ and ‘Fastuosum Flore Pleno’ have also been added. Among the noteworthy Azaleas are Azalea obtusum ‘Amoenum’, Azalea mollis and Exbury hybrids.

The Bourn Vincent family undertook major garden developments at Muckross during the period of their ownership from 1911 to 1932. One of their first projects was the commissioning of glasshouses from W. Richardson and Company of Darlington, England. By 1918 these glasshouses were growing vines, peaches and figs.

The Bourn Vincent family also commissioned garden plans from R. Wallace and Co., of Colchester, not all of which came to fruition. However, the formal Victorian terraces immediately south of the house were replaced by a Sunken Garden. Nearby, a Rock Garden was developed on a natural outcrop of limestone and planted with dwarf conifers and shrubs.

A Stream Garden was also developed to help drain the southern part of the garden. It meanders gently through the lawns and enters the Muckross Lake at Dundag Bay. Arum Lilies, Day lilies, Crinum lilies, Penstemons, Hostas and Kniphofias (Red-Hot Pokers) thrive in the moist conditions bordering the stream. Among the plants growing along its lower reaches are Bamboos, Goat Willow (Salix caprea), Weaping Pear (Pyrus communis pendula), Yuccas and many more.

Butterfly at Muckross

Visitors to the Garden Restaurant can enjoy spectacular views over the former Victorian Walled Garden area towards Torc and Mangerton Mountains.

An area of Old Woodland borders the Stream Garden on the east. It incorporates a collection of almost 100 different varieties of Camellias, which have been planted here since 1980. An Arboretum, established in 1972, lies to the south of the Stream Garden. Collections of Acers, Betulas, Cercidiphyllums, Pittosporums and Podocarpus, as well as trees from the Southern Hemisphere, are now established here.

Visitors to the Garden Restaurant can enjoy spectacular views over the former Victorian Walled Garden area towards Torc and Mangerton Mountains. Today a Garden Parterre, with an elaborate arrangement of flowerbeds, provides interest and colour throughout the year.

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