Carlow Garden Festival – from July 24 to August 1 – is a great opportunity to walk through beauty!

You could meet any one of 15 gardening gurus from across Ireland who headline this year’s programme. The festival features an appealing mix of workshops, garden tours, specialist talks and Q&A sessions located along Carlow’s Garden Trail.

Best of all, you get to walk through amazing gardens, including the Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow town,

Headlining the festival this year will be gardening personality Diarmuid Gavin who makes a welcome return along with gardener Paul Smyth. You can hear them at a much-anticipated talk at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Saturday, July 24: Delta Sensory Gardens

Carlow Garden Festival

The festival kicks off on Saturday, July 24, 2021 with a garden tour of Delta Sensory Gardens by Paul Martin. Paul is a gold medal winner at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. The talk covers the many wonderful gardens that have been created at Delta over the years including the Celtic Walk, the formal Rose Garden, the Five Senses Garden and the Stolen Child Garden along with an overview of the Iris O’ Brien Garden in Delta, which Paul created for the Bloom Garden Festival in 2008.

Sunday, July 25: Éanna Ní Lamhna

An entertaining day, suitable for all the family takes place on Sunday, July 25. Environmentalist and RTÉ personality Éanna Ní Lamhna leads a special nature walk along the magical setting of the River Barrow in Leighlinbridge. Prepare for your senses to be captivated and explore the flora, fauna, plants, animals and birds along this special river. Éanna also provides some useful tips to address climate action and biodiversity using examples of works completed in Leighlinbridge. Two walks have been scheduled to take account of expected demand at 2 and 4 p.m.

Monday, July 26: Top two gardeners

mindful walking

The Meadows, Myshall, Co Carlow

Gardeners Mary Keenan, Gash Gardens in Co. Laois, and Patricia Tyrrell, the Garden and Landscape Designers Association, visit Delta Sensory Gardens in Carlow town and the Meadows Garden in Myshall on Monday July 26. Patricia explores planting for maximum effect for the longest possible period, without too much maintenance. Meanwhile, Mary provides useful planting information to ensure a garden is never completely devoid of life, colour, or interest.

Tuesday, July 27: Altamont Gardens

Head to Altamont Gardens on July 27 to hear recently retired curator of the National Botanic Gardens Paul Maher. He will talk on gardening techniques and thrifty design principles. Later that day, Madeline McKeever of the Brown Envelope Seed Catalogue explains the joy of growing your own plants from seed providing useful tips and tricks for what’s required and what you need to look out for including disease, insects and bad weather.

Wednesday, July 28: Shankill Castle

carlow garden festival

Klaus Laitenberger is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed vegetable gardeners, having authored three books on the subject. He also restored the gardens of Lissadell House in Co. Sligo and worked as Head Gardener at the Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim. He will visit the vegetable garden in Shankill Castle (Paulstown on the Carlow/Kilkenny border) on Wednesday, July 28. And he will cover how to grow your own organic vegetables, salads and fruits  by choosing the right varieties, the best sowing dates and preventing pests and diseases.

Burtown House

That afternoon, Arthur Shackleton visits Burtown House, Athy, Co Kildare. He will show examples of his design approach to gardens he has worked on in the past. He will also provide a detailed overview of Arthur’s own garden, Fruit Lawn, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois and his choice of plants there.

Thursday, July 29: Borris House

A Tree Trail of Borris House can be enjoyed in the gregarious and knowledgeable company of arborist Thomas Pakenham on Thursday, July 29. Enjoy some of the beautiful specimen trees on the estate, along with other highlights of a visit here including the Lace Garden, the woodlands, the Stew Pond and the original Victorian laundry.

Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens

kilgraney country house herb gardens

Fiann Ó Nualláin makes a much-anticipated return to Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens in the afternoon. He will explain how gardening can lead to a longer, healthier and happier life and the wonderful transformations that happen as gardeners toil outdoors. Author of numerous books on the subject and a gold medal winning designer, Fiann explores how the garden heals on so many different levels. And we could benefit and learn from that after the events of the last 18 months!

Friday, July 30: Altamont Plant Sales

Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener at Kilmacurragh Gardens, visits Altamont Plant Sales to discuss his favourite plants on Friday, July 30.

Huntington Castle, Clonegal

Afterwards, Seamus visits Huntington Castle where he focuses on both the historic and new planting which has taken place there.

Huntington Castle, Carlow Garden Festival

Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow

Saturday, July 31: Arboretum, Leighlinbridge

Paul Smyth and Diarmuid Gavin team up to tell the story of their Garden Conversations lockdown broadcasts at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven on Saturday, July 31.  Both will recount how their respective gardens evolved into the dramatic plant-filled spaces they are today. Diarmuid will talk about his various trips to the Chelsea Flower Show and Paul will outline his plant hunting expeditions to Vietnam and how these influenced their garden styles.

Sunday, August 1: Duckett’s Grove

Shirley Lanigan visits Duckett’s Grove Historic House and Walled Gardens on Sunday, August 1. She will talk about the changing world of open Irish gardens, referencing the growing interest in organic and responsible gardening. And she will provide a tour of the borders which are in full colour at present.

Carlow Garden Festival information

The Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners and nature lovers to get practical advice. With gardens in full bloom and with the majority of gardening work completed, use the festival to relax and walk around, admiring the work of others!

Visitors can explore premises on the Carlow Garden Trail throughout the festival.

Tickets for Carlow Garden Festival

All tickets should be booked online on the festival website, which also features special accommodation packages for the festival.

Duckett's Grove, Carlow Garden Festival

Duckett’s Grove, Co Carlow