The National Botanic Gardens

Just some of the beautiful plants on show
Just some of the beautiful plants on show

This week, I finally hauled ass to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, having threatened to do it for months. I hadn’t been to the gardens in a number of years, in fact, I think last time I was there was on a school visit and long before I developed a serious interest in plants and gardening so the experience was probably wasted on me. When the opportunity arose to visit on a bright, dry Sunday, I jumped at the chance (literally, there was a little jump for joy, but only those very close up could see it).

It was the first beautiful spring day in Dublin this year. The past few weeks have seen a succession of storms battering our coastlines. In fact, Dublin seems to have escaped relatively unscathed compared to the west coast. So when I saw the sun streaming thorough the window n Sunday morning, it seemed a shame to waste it.

The visit to the gardens was very spur of the moment, I had been putting it off until the weather improved and until it was summer time and there was more to see. However, despite the time of year, the gardens didn’t disappoint at all, there was plenty growing.

The lovely vegetable garden

Particularly so in the vegetable garden, where there was an abundance of productive plants, from the lovely herb border to the fruit bushes to the veggie patches complete with spring cabbages, leeks and various other crops in season during these lean weeks. There was also a large composting area where they host composting master classes during the year. There were also some beehives on site, a small pond for wildlife and a glasshouse, in which, there also appeared to be some wildlife hiding out.


A long walk around the gardens brought me through the wonderful arboretum, most of my time there was spent stroking the bark of trees and squealing at the bunches of spring crocuses everywhere and being an embarrassing garden nerd. I took photos of everything, pretty things, ugly things, stupid things, mossy things, everything.

Broken things, twisted things, beautiful things

The glasshouses at the Botanic Gardens are definitely one of the highlights. There are a number of glasshouses, the great palm house is the largest, built in 1884, it is home to a huge variety of giant palm trees and exotic plants. This was also home to a wonderful collection of succulents and cacti and a spectacular collection of orchids which I am very excited to go back to see when there are more in bloom.

The Curvilinear Glasshouse
The Curvilinear Glasshouse

The curvilinear glasshouse housed a large variety of exotic plants from Australia, Africa, the Medditeranean and Asia and it featured my favourite plants of the whole visit.

Some of the exotic plants, the one on my right was my favourite, though I couldn’t for the life of me, find the name of it anywhere.

There are also some smaller glasshouses with insectivorous plants, ferns, alpines, winter flowers, and a charming little house full of spring flowers like daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths.

Delicate spring flowers
My current reading material
My current reading material

Stopping off after a long walk around for what must have been about three hours, I had a fab cup of peppermint tea and attempted to take in everything I had seen, but you know what, I was completely overwhelmed, not just by the beauty and the experience, but by just how little I really know about plants and how much I have to learn. I am hoping to brush up on my plant science in the coming months (it helps that I happen to have a botanist best friend who I can annoy all the time). No point in trying to be a gardener without a basic understanding of plants themselves, it seems redundant to say the least. First port of call, attempt to learn some Latin, should be…..interesting….

The Botanic Gardens host a number of lectures and gardening classes throughout the year so check their website or facebook page for further information. The gardens are home to more than 15,000 species of plant and is also the site of the National Herbarium, a collection of over 750,000 pressed plants. The National Botanic Gardens are home to hundreds of endangered species from around the world and even a small number species that are otherwise extinct in the wild. If you do visit, you can do an audio tour, or just ramble around yourself and take it all in as I did. I’d urge you to visit, whether you garden or not, it’s definitely an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

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