Ambrose Congreve

Mount Congreve gardens – an unexpected meeting …

Walled garden is greeting me with all shades of purple.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Mount Congreve Gardens

Numerous fruit trees will bear a bountiful harvest in a month or two.

I admire various espaliers clinging to the walls.

Mount Congreve Gardens

As I cross the walled garden I discover a fragrant rose walk in the middle of it.

Mount Congreve Gardens

Winged thorns are not the only unusual feature of Rosa sericea pteracantha : its flowers have only four petals instead of usual five.

Leaving the walled garden.

Walking around the pond.

Unhurried walk with occasional stops takes me back to the glass house.

Mount Congreve Gardens

More flowers, more colors.

Magnolia Daybreak was planted in memory of Ambrose Congreve by the staff of Mount Congreve. It has beautiful and extremely fragrant pink flowers. There are many magnolias in the garden that bear names of Congreve family members.

Mount Congreve Gardens

On my way to the field where I have parked my car I came across a lawn. I changed my lens to a wider one to take a picture of the tree. From this moment the events started developing rapidly.

I took the picture and next moment a huge, long-legged hare appeared out of the shrubs at the other side of the lawn and started lazily towards me. I stopped breathing for a moment and then began to reattach my 70-200 mm lens. When the lens was finally on I lifted my eyes and almost screamed as the hare was sitting right in front of me, and he was the size of a dog.

Mount Congreve Gardens

I guess he had lost all his senses because of his old age, it is why he almost bumped into me. Startled, he looked at me with crossed eyes.  I didn’t have time to focus and only got these two blurred pictures of him as he darted across the lawn.

I slowly walked to where he entered the shrubs, and there he was, recovering after the scare.


I am glad that I can share this story with you. Have a wonderful weekend

Mt Congreve gardens in July

Mount Congreve is usually a tranquil place, but not today as hundreds of young treasure hunters and their families have gathered here for an action-packed event. I cannot resist a 99 cone with a flake, and after a short inner debate find myself at the end of a long line.

Mount Congreve

Even the Garda special forces are looking for something delicious.

The cone is gone in a flash, and I don’t feel like looking for any other treasures. I make my way up to The Temple to visit the resting place of Ambrose Congreve, the man who has created this amazing garden on the banks of River Suir.

I get caught in prickly shoots of unknown plant stretched across the path. The leaves look so neat. I wish I knew the name.

I also come across a blooming rhododendron. A late bloomer indeed.

A set of steps takes me to another level.

Blue Hydrangeas are gloving under the dark canopy.

Finally I see the sun again. Love the play of light on the Rhododendron trunks.

This is a cousin of our ordinary Linden ( Lime) tree.  Tilia henryana was named so after the Irish sinologist Augustine Henry who discovered the tree in 1888. Henry was born in Dundee into a family from Co Tyrone.

I am leaving the shady woodland garden to enjoy the bright colors of the walled garden.

I have a love-hate relationship with Dahlias 🙂 My mother used to grow a variety of Dahlias and we had a good few shelves filled with tubers in our cool room. I am absolutely fascinated with the flowers, but the smell of the stems makes me sick. Also, one of my chores was to take care of displays of cut flowers in our house, and I remember being so frustrated that dahlias made the vase water stink just in a couple of hours while the flower itself could last like forever. Still, Dahlia is one of my garden favorites.

Thank you for walking in the garden with me. This visit had a funny ending I will write about next time. Have a wonderful weekend!

Mount Congreve Gardens II


The Gardens are the life work of Mr. Ambrose Congreve. His life was colourful in any sense of the word.

Young Ambrose was sent to school at Eton where he met his roommate and life-long friend Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond spy novels. They both collaborated in the school magazine The Wyvern.

During the World War II, both friends served as intelligence officers. Ambrose Congreve served in Air Intelligence for Plans and in Bomber Command, and later in the Ministry of Supply.

A brilliant businessman, Ambrose Congreve was working for Unilever in England and China, and ran Humphreys & Glasgow firm when he took over from his father-in-law Arthur G. Glasgow (from 1939 to 1983). During this time the workforce increased from less than 100 to more than 3000. Foreseeing the global economic crisis, he sold the company and his holding of stocks and shares in the 1980’s. Much of the proceeds went to charities and literary prizes, the rest was invested in the estate. Wholesale nursery added to the funds necessary to maintain the gardens and house.

Mount Congreve

Liveried servants, fine chefs de cuisine, gorgeous Rolls Royce Phantom V1, collection of the finest items of art… and one of the best gardens of the world that took almost a hundred years to plant.

He employed Albert Roux, the chef who later co-founded Le Gavroche restaurant in London; his Rolls Royce was driven by the Queen Mother’s former chauffeur; his London house in the courtyard of St James’s Palace was next door to Prince Charles; he was a friend of Lionel de Rothschild ( his mentor in gardening), Winston Churchill, and Aristotle Onassis.

His 70 employees gave him a special and thoughtful gift for his 100th birthday – a Wollemi Pine.  


In the beginning of April, there are only a few Camellias in bloom .


Most of the flowers are laying on the ground at different stages of decay.

The variety and number of Azaleas are overwhelming.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

There are 16 miles of paths in the gardens.

Mount Congreve

Snowy flowers and the bright flame of the new shoots  – Pieris fills up the gaps between the twisted Rhododendron trunks.

Mount Congreve

Mount Congreve

River Suir.

Mount Congreve

Bluebell path.

Mount Congreve

Magnolia walk. There are about 200 tree Magnolias planted by Ambrose Congreve and his long-time head gardener Herman Dool who came from Holland. It was their secret – to plant numerous trees instead of 1-2 to make the garden look so spectacular.

Michael White is the current curator of the Mount Congreve Gardens.

Mount Congreve

Another long-leaved Rhododendron.


One more Azalea. I have shared just a tiny slice of the collection.


Some birds.

Thank you for visiting Mount Congreve Gardens with me. It is sad that we won’t see the tall figure of Mr. Congreve. He and his wife are buried at the temple overlooking River Suir. Have a wonderful week!