The Mount Congreve Story so far…
The Woodland gardens at Mount Congreve were founded on the inspiration, generosity and encouragement of Mr. Lionel N. de Rothschild. He became arguably, the greatest landscaper of the 20th Century and one of the cleverest hybridists. He died in 1942. The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. The Gardens are held in Trust for the State.
The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. Ambrose Congreve began planting parts of these in his late teens but it was not until 1955 that he began to make large clearings in the woodlands to create the necessary conditions where his new plants would thrive. With the arrival of Mr. Herman Dool in the early sixties, the two men began the process that would lead to Mount Congreve’s recognition as one of the ‘Great Gardens of the World’. Up to the very last years of his life, Mr Congreve could be found in the gardens dispensing orders and advice relating to his beloved plants.
Mr. Herman Dool with Mr. Congreve developed the gardens over 40 years. He received the Orange Order of Nassau from the Queen of Holland, the equivalent of a British Knighthood, for his achievements. He died in 2004. The Magnolia Walk was renamed The Herman Dool Walk in March 2019 in recognition of his remarkable contribution to the gardens.
Awards for Horticulture
Ambrose Congreve’s achievements were acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth, who awarded him a CBE, and by Trinity College Dublin, which granted him an honorary doctorate. Up to the very last years of his life, Mr Congreve could be found in the gardens dispensing orders and advice relating to his beloved plants. He afforded his longevity to having a garden to care for.
The Gardens had been open to gardening enthusiasts each Thursday of the summer months for many years. In April 2011 Mr. Congreve was in London en route to the Chelsea Flower Show, aged 104, when he died. His ashes were returned to Mount Congreve and placed in the temple overlooking his gardens and the River Suir below.
The gardens are held to the state in trust
The House and Gardens were bequeathed to the state and are held in Trust. Following an auction of the entire contents of the house and a period of uncertainty regarding the fate of Mount Congreve, it became clear that in order to preserve and protect the gardens, new revenue streams needed to be identified and pursued.
The work started by Mr. Congreve continues up to the present. The collection is still expanding steadily under the encyclopaedic knowledge of Curator Mr. Michael White (Waley Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain) with new additions and our own programme of breeding to create new hybrids of Rhododendrons and Magnolias among others.
A café serving teas & coffee and seasonal produce from the gardens has been added and full ticketed access to the gardens along with guided tours for all levels of interest are available. A garden shop on site with plants propagated within Mount Congreve are available for purchase. An extensive annual events programme is in development and with extended opening hours to the gardens and an access point to/from the Waterford Greenway, our mission is to preserve and protect the gardens for future generations.
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