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Pocket Guide: Ballon Altamont Gardens Hotels

County Carlow is rightly proud of its glorious countryside, its green fields, woods and parklands. One of its most appealing features are the various gardens available to the public. The Carlow Garden Trail is one of the best ways to experience all of the region’s delights, and booking a hotel here gives visitors great access to all that is on offer.

One of the trail’s most enjoyable attractions is Altamont Gardens. The gardens cover 40 acres, past the riverside and through parkland and woodland. The garden and estate are well- known for the many mature trees, both native and more exotic.

The gardens are enjoyed by visitors all through the year. It features one of Ireland’s largest collection of snowdrops, as well as an extensive array of daffodils and many other spring bulbs. Most notable among these are the snake’s head fritillary, grape hyacinths and many azaleas and rhododendrons.

Each February, Altamont Gardens holds Ireland’s Snowdrop Week, when visitors flock to marvel at the carpet of white and the many varieties of bulb on display. As spring turns into summer, the rose collection comes to life, among many other colourful blooms. Autumn in the gardens is the time of year to admire the many trees changing from green to russet and gold. Their stark beauty can be enjoyed in the winter after they have shed their leaves.

Another popular attraction at the Altamont is its walled garden and plant sales. The Corona North Commemorative Border celebrates the estate’s former owner, Corona North, and took more than a year to design, build and plant out. Nearby is the nursery where a variety of both native and exotic plants are grown for sale.

The estate is also part of the Carlow Garden Trail. The highlight of this annual celebration of all things horticultural is the nearby Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Centre. The gardens have consistently been awarded five stars at the prestigious Bord Bia Garden Centre of the Year awards. Also featuring in the trail are the Delta Sensory Gardens, where 16 leading designers have created different gardens.

The trail is enjoyed by gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Carlow’s climate and soils mean that the variety and depth of its horticulture is a constant delight, all year round.

Staying in a hotel in Carlow or the wider County Carlow, whether budget bed and breakfast or a luxury spa mansion, makes it easy for visitors to visit the natural delights of Altamont Gardens and others on the trail. Even travelling from garden to garden offers a wealth of beautiful unspoilt countryside to enjoy.

Staff at the hotels in the area are known for the warmth of welcome to their premises, as well as local knowledge to help guests enjoy their stay to the maximum. Plus, the county’s farmlands and rich soils offer the best locally produced food in southern Ireland, so guests can be sure of an extensive menu prepared from the freshest ingredients, by experienced kitchen staff. And all of this set in the finest of Irish surroundings.