Thursday, May 22, 2014

National Botanic Gardens: First Look

I finally had reason to visit Dublin's National Botanic Gardens. One of my many historical lectures was taking place in the education center of the Gardens, which are in Glasnevin, North Dublin.

Before the talk, I wanted to visit Chester Beatty Library for a demonstration on traditional Japanese printmaking. I carefully planned my day on my bicycle to catch the print demo at 1 p.m. and head up to the gardens before the lecture at 3. 

The first half of my plan was executed perfectly, I was at Chester Beatty in time for the printmaking, but time got away from me. The artist was still working on the print as I looked at my watch to see that I had less than an hour to get into the far north end of the city.

I got on the bike and puffed up the hill to Phibsboro. I took some crude notes about where to go, hoping against all hope that there would be a sign for the Gardens. It all looked so simple, until I got to one of those strange intersections in Dublin that veer right and left in a narrow Y-shape. My notes told me to stay "straight" until I hit Botanic Gardens road. I didn't see and didn't plan for this Y in my route map. I took the left fork, toward Glasnevin Cemetery (another post.)

I knew that the gardens were attached to the cemetery, so I felt good as I pedaled past the gates. I thought to myself, "It must be just up here!"

Yeah, right!

I continued for another mile, WAY past the cemetery, and knew I was lost. It was time to turn around and ask for directions.

Back at the cemetery, I asked a few people about the gardens. They all knew the gardens were somewhere near the cemetery, but weren't sure how to get there by road. Some kindly folks tried to direct me to a gate at the far end of the cemetery going into the gardens, but I didn't want to ride or walk my bike through the national cemetery for Ireland's heroes. It just didn't seem right.

Finally, someone directed me around the cemetery, back to that Y shape that I took earlier. A quick turn and I was in business at the Botanic Gardens.

I had missed most of the talk, but was able to catch the last fifteen minutes in the impressive lecture theater before poking around the gardens properly. I had time only for a quick stroll through one end of the Gardens, but it was amazing.

The tulips were blooming in full that day, and the gardeners had artful arrangements of various tulips along many of the garden paths.  

Tiptoe Through the Tulips National Botanic Gardens Dublin
Tiptoe Through the Tulips

One Tulip (Onelip?) National Botanic Gardens Dublin
One Tulip (Onelip?)

There is a wide variety of plants and gardens from all over the world here. Indoor hothouses keep tropical plants going through the cold, dark Irish winters. Gardens of European, American, and Asian plants and design are scattered throughout the large campus.

A human-made pond sits at the bottom of a valley just to grow and display aquatic plants and flowers.

The Pond National Botanic Gardens Dublin
The Pond

Near the pond, the River Tolka flows through the Gardens on its way to the River Liffey and the sea. The Tolka is the little sibling to the Southside's River Dodder and one of Dublin's urban trout streams. I saw a handful of speckled brown trout in the river (we'd call it a stream in the States...).

River Tolka National Botanic Gardens Dublin
River Tolka

After a quick walk to the pond and the River Tolka, I had to turn around and make my long way home. I'll be back this Spring and Summer to check out the rest of the Gardens at my own pace.

...Now that I know how to find the place!

Path at National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
Going Home

1 comment:

  1. I knew I couldn't be the only one that gets lost in Dublin !


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