Great Gardens of England and Ireland
A Trip of a Lifetime
by Don Hyatt

When good friend George McLellan of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society was planning this "Trip of a Lifetime", a tour of many of the greatest gardens in England and Ireland, I never imagined that I would be traveling with them. As a school teacher, there was no way I could miss two weeks of school in May, and take off for such an excursion. There was also the concern over expenses since world travel doesn't easily fit into a teacher's budget. However, a series of circumstances just happened to come together that permitted me to tag along on this great journey. Join me on this tour some of the truly magnificent gardens we visited in England and Ireland.



Butterstream, the garden of Jim Reynolds, features a wide assortment of perennials.

Dillon Garden

Noted garden writer Helen Dillon maintains a small walled garden in Dublin filled with rare plants.

Mount Usher

Mount Usher, a naturalistic garden along the Vartry river, is home to rare rhododendrons, azaleas, and trees.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve, the creation of Ambrose Congreve, is a magnificent landscape on a grand scale.


Hadspen Garden

Hadspen Garden and Nursery specializes in perennials and garden color.


Stourhead is a majestic landscape featuring rhodendrons and azaleas bordering a scenic lake.

Hestercombe Gardens

Hestercombe is lovely garden with several water features and the site of my public bathing incident.

Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo is a relatively new castle with a formal garden featuring clipped shrubs and various flowers.

Exbury Gardens

Exbury Gardens has an incredible collection of rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas displayed in a gorgeous setting among ancient trees and rare plants.


Denmans is a relatively small garden and nursery featuring unusual perennials.

Sutton Place

Sutton Place is an expansive estate once the private home of oil magnate, J. Paul Getty

Great Dixter

Great Dixter features extensive topiary and perennial gardens and is the home of famed garden writer, Christopher Lloyd.


Sissinghurst Castle Gardens with its beautiful gardens in many color schemes has been a major influence in English garden design.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, the former home Anne Boleyn in Tudor England, has an extensive garden installed by more recent residents, the Astor family.

Wisley Gardens

Wisley, the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society, contains an extensive collection of all manner of plants including many rhododendrons and azaleas.

Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show, the undisputed "world's best" in flower shows, features full garden designs and collections of rare plants on display.