The Glasshouse at Birr Castle Co. Offaly

Glasshouse at Birr Castle.
Glasshouse at Birr Castle.

Placed in the heart of one of Europe's important horticultural gardens lies a small elegant glass house that is a beautiful colourful place to sit and contemplate the greatness of the property that surrounds it. 

Begonia's inside Birr Castle Glasshouse
Begonia's inside Birr Castle Glasshouse

“Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too” — William Cowper

Now the location of a science and technology educational centre, Birr Castle Gardens contain a staggering amount of significant plants and trees collected by the Earls of Rosse (who still own the castle) over the last 150 years. 


With so many facades to this imaginative place, it helps to sit somewhere peaceful and think of all the special seeds that were started in this garden, perhaps in one of these glass houses. 

Terracotta pot plants.

Inside the 50 acres of garden that taper out from the glass house, we found the worlds tallest hedges, over 2000 species of plants, 40 significant trees, ageing wisteria and incredible landscaped waterways with views of Birr Castle. 


Situated in the Walled Garden, the glass house is filled with Begonia's, Pelargoniums and Fuchsias (Pink Marshmallow caught my eye).  It is a bright, dazzling and long lived display that provides a burst of colour even as the rain hits the windows during a quick Autumn shower. 

Looking out on historic tree tops.

Of course with the benefits of shelter and humidity, glass houses such as these have wonderful views out the windows and trees are easy to admire through roof glass. Hardly seems fair that the people that planted those trees probably never saw them this way, yet we get to enjoy their foresight.


Outside there was fire engine red showing of Dahlias that dressed up the Victorian stone wall, dancing in the slight warmth of the high Autumn breeze that touched the midland garden.  

World's tallest hedges.

There is a great geographical range of plants grown in these gardens.  Shortly after the Metasequoia Glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) was discovered in China, Birr Castle was the first garden in Ireland to receive specimens of the tree. 


No doubt growing up in a garden such as this would be inspiring for any budding gardener.  The Sixth Earl of Rosse, Michael Parsons, became a Horticulturalist and Plantsman of note. 


The family are still plant hunters today and go on plant expeditions to exotic locations such as Pakistan, Bhuton and New Zealand. 


Looking out the windows it's easy to imagine the many green houses that would have been in operation on this large estate, filled with exotic produce to please the array of scientific and technologically connected people that would have been drawn to visit The Great Telescope, built by the third Earl. 


You'd nearly need two days to get around the treasury of plants nestled in here at Birr Castle Gardens, but if you only had a day, make sure you sit down for a minute inside this lovely little glass house. 

Potted plants outside greenhouse at Birr Castle.
Potted plants outside greenhouse at Birr Castle.