Day 2 |
Sep 03, 2012

Waterford, Ireland 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 52°15´N, 07°06´W
Weather: sunny
Air Temperature: 17°C

Today we would enjoy one of the featured gardens of our voyage down the coast of Western Europe. Beside the Abbey Gardens of Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, the Mount Congreve Gardens near Waterford are surely one of the botanical highlights.

As usually the ship was alongside on the opposite pier of the town center of Waterford.
Today I was joining the garden tour together with my colleague Richard and 34 guests. Leaving the pier, the drive took us through the center of Waterford, passing by the Bishop’s Palace, the Waterford Crystal Manufactory and the famous Reginald’s Tower. After a short bus ride we arrived at the garden entrance. We were welcomed by two local guides whose main occupation was as gardeners at the Mount Congreve Estate. Our group was split up into two smaller groups to get a better impression of the garden.

The Estate covers over 700 acres, approximately 100 of which comprise the gardens. The Mount Congreve Gardens were designed and tended for over 60 years by Mr. Ambrose Congreve and Mr. Herman Dool and are not only remarkable for their landscape with views onto the River Suir but also for their collections of Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Maples, Camellias and Hydrangeas. Over 650 varieties of Rhododendron call the garden their home and nearly the same applies for the Camellias. The gardens are really a heaven for any hobby gardener as well as for a botanist. Today especially the Hydrangeas were in full bloom in shades of white, pink, blue and red. Walking along the path, we were accompanied on each side by colorful plants; it was a wonderful experience. Although the Rhododendrons were not flowering anymore, they still showed their beautiful coloration of the leaves, with the different tones of green and brown.

Additionally, our guide decorated the tour with some personal stories, which made this tour even more unforgettable and enjoyable at the same time. After two hours of wandering around in this garden paradise, the bus took us back to Waterford. Passing through the town center once again, our guide mentioned the new Museum of Treasures and how worthwhile it is to have a look inside. About 20 of the guests from our bus took the opportunity to be dropped off in town and explore this beautiful town at their leisure.

At around 18.15 the Silver Explorer set sail for our next destination on the west coast of Ireland: Glengarriff.

After this wonderful start of our journey along the west coast of Europe, guests had a delightful evening as Captain Adam Boczek and our Executive Chef Janine invited everyone to a Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party in The Theatre and to a delicious Captain’s Welcome Dinner in The Restaurant as we sailed down the River Suir and out into the Irish Sea.