Glasnevin, Co Dublin
Ireland’s National Botanic Gardens occupy nearly 20 hectares of land in central Dublin. They’re prized both as a centre of scientific study and as a retreat from all things urban. A few minutes stroll through rose garden, or a reflective moment in the water gardens can be the perfect antidote to traveller’s fatigue.
Orchids are particularly important to the National Botanic Gardens. In the 1840s, curator David Moore led the world’s first successful project to propagate orchids from seed. Up to that point, botanists had to use live cuttings to start new plants. A bounty of live specimens is on display in the Orchid House, which was restored in 2004.
The National Herbarium plays an important role in scientific study and research. This botanical archive has more than 20,000 samples of plant products, including seeds, dried fibres, artefacts and extracts. These are displayed in a museum alongside artefacts related to the history of the garden.
Even the architecture of the gardens is worth exploring. The Curvilinear Range is particularly impressive. It dates to the mid-19th century, and few structures like it remain in Europe. Several other Victorian-era glasshouses and wrought-iron structures dot the gardens.
The National Botanic Gardens are located about 3.5 km north of Dublin city centre along Botanic Road. Parking is available onsite for a flat fee, and there may be free roadside spaces open directly outside the gates of the garden. The restaurant and coffee shop in the Visitor Centre serves hot and cold food throughout the day.