Best Hotel Gardens: Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt

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Best Hotel Gardens: Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt

July 5, 2009
12:00am
Photo by: Courtesy The Upper House

In the countryside just south of Dublin, the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt is perfectly situated in perhaps the most spectacular heritage garden in Ireland. Hotel guests are welcome to stroll the 47 acres of Powerscourt Estate, which were developed over a span of 200 years by Sir Richard Wingfield and his descendants. The initial layout by architect Richard Castle took shape in the 1730s and was expanded by architect Daniel Robertson in the 1840s. Now painstakingly restored by the Slazenger family (of sporting-goods fame), who took over the estate in 1961, the historic grounds unfold in a formal Italianate garden and a series of smaller but equally enchanting outdoor rooms that blend man-made spaces into the larger landscape. The property’s most celebrated view, stretching between the steeply terraced emerald lawns and Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance, includes a valley of endless wonders: elaborate pebble mosaics, colorful parterres, topiary trees, and a placid lake whose fountain is based on the Triton fountain in Rome’s Piazza Barberini and guarded by two zinc Pegasus statues — symbols from the Wingfield family crest. It takes a couple of hours to tour the gardens, which include the herbaceous border, clipped Portuguese cherry laurels and 19th-century greenhouses of the walled kitchen garden. The Japanese garden, a favorite among children, is a Victorian interpretation of pagodas and bridges nestled among Japanese maples and azaleas. Elsewhere there are ornate iron gates, lily ponds, woodlands of specimen trees, a stone tower modeled after a pepper mill and even a pet cemetery. Only a five-minute drive away, the Powerscourt waterfall, the country’s tallest at nearly 400 feet, makes an ideal spot for a picnic. ritzcarlton.com