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Dublin gardens

National Botanic Gardens

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If you have a taste for the exotic or oriental, make sure you don't miss the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin 9. Established as a public garden in 1800, it had originally been acquired as place for scientific studies of agriculture and the foods that could have medicinal value for animals and humans. However as the decades passed, by the 1830's it had evolved into a botanical garden, dedicated to knowledge of new and unknown plants from across the world. The curator's link to British gardens with similar aims, such as Kew Gardens, facilitated this new purpose. Due to the ever growing selection of tropical plants, new ways were required to house, protect and cultivate these beautiful new specimens. The agricultural purposes of the garden were soon overshadowed by the impressive international horticultural reputation of the garden and its Directors.

An Octagon house was constructed in 1819 for the Norfolk Island pine. Pampas grass from Argentina was introduced in 1840. In 1843 the first curved glasshouse was installed by a Dublin ironmaster. Orchid seeds were germinated in 1845, and interestingly, the potato blight was first noted here in the same year, and famine was predicted for the nation - a prediction which subsequently came true. Himalayan specimens were introduced in 1848 and a giant Amazon waterlily in 1854 demanded a new Aquatic House be erected.

The garden was handed over to the state to be run as a public facility in 1878. The National Herbarium was transferred into the Botanic Gardens from the National Museum in 1970 and in 1999 a new glasshouse was commissioned, and many of the existing structures were refurbished in tandem with much of the collection being upgraded.

The result today is a stunning garden of unparalleled beauty and interest. The Botanic Gardens are now one of Dublin's top attractions all year round, whatever the season. Colourful and vibrant herbaceous borders line many of the trails and pathways, leading to areas dedicated to various particular specimens and plant varieties. There are over twenty independent areas within the Botanic Gardens to explore; so set aside a half day for this activity to allow yourself the chance to truly appreciate the many collections. There is something in this garden for everyone, whether a horticulturalist or someone with a passing interest in flowers and plants.

The Gardens have a visitor centre, where you can eat from a selection of hot and cold dishes in the restaurant, chill out in the cafe, or browse the exhibits relating to the history and purpose of the gardens. A very useful map of the Gardens is also available here. Expect the Gardens to be packed on a Sunday with crowds of families and tourists, so if you prefer to tranquillity, arrange a weekday visit.

The National Botanic Gardens are only 3.5 kilometres from Dublin City, and there are three bus routes via which you can access them. The route numbers 4, 9 and 83 all lead to the Gardens and leave from different areas in the city.

Entrance is free (although parking is not).

The garden is open 364 days a year
October to March 9.00am - 16.30pm
March to October: Weekdays 9.00am to 17.00pm, Weekends 10.00am to 19.00pm



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