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The Powerscourt Blog

Down by the river at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 1:09:24 PM

And the sun took a step back,
The leaves lulled themselves to sleep,
and Autumn was awakened.

Raquel Franco

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The River Walk was laid in 1868 by the Viscount of Powerscourt so that his family could enjoy the serenity of the River Dargle.

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And serene it is indeed. Over 3 kilometres (2 miles), it winds its way in the direction of the Powerscourt Waterfall, through secluded woodlands and past champion trees. The mirror-like surface of the peaty water glistens through the leaves, and its tranquil murmur echoes softly in the undergrowth. Every once in a while, a lonely autumn leaf sails gently downstream.

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As we started walking, my children collected a number of seasonal treasures – parachute seeds, shiny conkers in their soft shell, one green acorn with its cap still on, one large flat mushroom, and two star-shaped leaves decayed into the most delicate lace (only the ribs and veins remained).

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On that lovely Sunday afternoon, the surfaced pathway was busy with dog walkers and families, and a few cars. The adventure really began when the kids took their hide-and-seek game off the main road and into the woods.

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They hid among the exposed roots of broad-leaf trees on the river bank;
They scaled low-lying branches and giant cork-like conifers;
They painted their faces with charcoal taken out of the charred hollow of a tall tree;
They ran, they played, they laughed.

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Deep in the woods, they also spotted a stick swing hanging tantalisingly over the Dargle – a return visit will be in order to try it out, with adequate footwear, or no footwear at all!

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About

Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland’s great outdoors with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.

http://www.fouracorns.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Wicklow

Autumn colours at Powerscourt Waterfall

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Nov 22, 2016 12:11:11 PM

Put yourself in the way of beauty
Cheryl Strayed

Few places are more beautiful than the Powerscourt Waterfall, Co Wicklow, on a sunny autumn day. Ireland’s highest waterfall (121m/398ft) has become a kind of pilgrimage for us – twice a year at least, we visit the stunning parkland at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains.

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This time, my 5-year-old’s best friend came along, with his mum and younger brother, during mid-term. As soon as he had heard the name ‘Powerscourt’, he pleaded to go and play on the toy diggers in the playground’s sandpit. All plans to visit the Powerscourt Gardens in all their autumn splendour were quickly shoved aside.

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As often when we go to the waterfall, the children played for ages on the fantastic playground, digging, swinging and climbing to their hearts’ content. 

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Then we walked to the waterfall itself. It was as majestic as ever, its blue waters flowing over jet-black rocks, with the whole gamut of autumn colours on the surrounding trees.

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About

Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland’s great outdoors with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.

http://www.fouracorns.ie

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Topics: Powerscourt Waterfall, Wicklow

Howl-A-Ween Dog Costume Contest!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 19, 2016 1:12:14 PM

Does your pooch have the cutest Halloween outfit? Or maybe the most fur raising?

Enter Powerscourt Garden Pavilion's Dog Halloween Costume Contest to find out!

Upload a photo of your dog in costume to our Facebook page or email a photo to marketing@powerscourt.net to be in with a chance to win. 

We will have a lovely prize of some fabulous dogcessories and treats for the lucky winning canine :)

Be sure to include your name, dog's name, breed, age of dog and hometown when sending us your photo.

The competition closes at 4pm on November 1st.

Our team will pick our favourite costume. 

So come on and enter your top dog! You'd be barking mad not to ;)

Don't forget to Like us on Facebook.

Sorry, we do have some rules too....
The winner must be able to collect the prize.
The prize cannot exchange for monetary value.

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Topics: Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Wicklow

New RTÉ Painting Programme Filmed at Powerscourt Estate

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 12, 2016 11:34:54 AM

Wicklow’s very own Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall was the location for the debut episode of RTE’s Painting the Nation, a TV programme which uncovers and showcases the best amateur painting talent across the island of Ireland. Produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ and presented by Pauline McLynn, the show’s finalists include carpenters, geologists, full-time mums, students and grannies who share a dream of painting for a living.

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After completing their challenges, a still life and painting drapery, in the Ballroom of Powerscourt House the painters were taken to the spectacular Powerscourt Waterfall. Following in the footsteps of some of Ireland’s greatest landscape painters, they captured the waters tumbling over the iconic Wicklow Mountains into the valley. It was a great opportunity to showcase this iconic ‘Garden of Ireland’ tourism attraction to tourists nationwide.

Over 50 different movies and TV series have been shot at Powerscourt Estate since Laurence Olivier started the trend by filming Henry V there in 1944. Since then films including The Count of Monte Cristo and King Arthur and chart-topping TV series Vikings and Penny Dreadful have been filmed here. To follow ‘Painting the Nation’ tune into RTÉ 1 Television on Sundays at 7.30pm.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Foraging Fun along the Powerscourt River Walk

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Oct 3, 2016 3:29:36 PM

 

 

I didn’t really know what I had signed up for when I accepted the invitation to come along to the 'Foraging in the Wild Walk', a couple of weeks ago. In my usual, slapdash manner I signed myself, my husband and three children ranging in ages from four to nine up for what I thought would be a guided stroll along the lovely River Walk at Powerscourt.

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So it was quite a surprise to myself and my family when we realised that Mary and Robert from Blackstairs Eco Trails were bringing us out on a foraging jaunt! Whilst I was trying to nonchalantly shush the complaints from my seven year old that he was not actually going on a walk, my eldest started munching on dandelion leaves while exploring where the wild strawberries grow!

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Next thing the 'complainer' was chowing down on some hogweed seeds, fascinated, as Robert showed us how to grab handfuls of nettles without stinging ourselves..and like that Mary and Robert had us under their spell.

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                                                                         Robert White

They were so enthusiastic, bantering between themselves and leaping from one indistinct shrub to another, handing out hazelnuts, wild mushrooms and fun along the way. Once we had finished exploring the endless possibilities from deep-fried elderberry flowers to plaintain on toast, we were whisked back to Powerscourt Garden Pavillion for an informative session on home pickling, alexander seed (used as black pepper by the more inventive chef) and wild sorrel which tastes more ‘lemony’ than lemons!!

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Their enthusiasm for foraging and living off the plentiful land around us was so infectious that by the time we were leaving I was pretty sure I would never need to darken another supermarket or doctor’s door again, although my self-belief may have been enhanced by the delicious swig of their homemade sloe gin I had helped myself to.

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Reality has set back in now but with another fabulous trip to Powerscourt under my belt and with my new found foraging knowledge, I did spot a hazel tree and some wild hazelnuts on my daily walk which the children were only delighted to gobble up!

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Aisling posts about our family events throughout the year. Aisling runs a parenting blog which you can follow here.

Bio: My name is Aisling Lyons, stay at home mother of three, and sometime radio pundit ;).I have over 20 years experience in the childcare sector, starting out as nursery nurse before moving into nannying, and then returning to work in creches for over 14 years, twelve of which were in creche management. I managed a private creche "Johnstown Kiddiecare" in Kilpeddar, Co. Wicklow, and then moved into Dublin to manage the nursery on-site in Trinity College Dublin. I finally left that position to open my own creche "Aisling Childcare", which I ran for seven years. I closed the creche when baby number three was imminent as I really wanted to focus on motherhood. I am passionate about children being given the very best opportunities to allow them to grow up to be happy and confident. I set up a blog to help any parents struggling with the little and large problems that parenting young children can bring! I really hope that some ideas I bring will help families thrive and forge ahead!: )

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt River Walk, Events

Meet Lord Powerscourt and Sarah and Alex Slazenger in our new short movie!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Sep 22, 2016 2:20:19 PM

Beautiful Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow has launched a wonderful new short film and new audio guides about the gardens, narrated personally by the 2 families and owners of Powerscourt over the past 400 years. Voted the third most beautiful garden in the world by National Geographic, Powerscourt is a classical oasis hidden in the wilds of Wicklow.

In the film you will meet Anthony Wingfield, Lord Powerscourt and Alex Slazenger, the Head Gardener. Their cousin Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director also appears on the video making this a first-hand, warm experience of what Powerscourt means to them. From fascinating family characters through to everyday tasks in the gardens, the audio guides provide a wonderful behind the scenes glimpse of life at Powerscourt.

The audio guides are available now in English, Spanish, German, French & Chinese.

So how did the impressive Powerscourt Mansion come to be built?

And just who had the vision to create the spectacular gardens?

Join Sarah, Alex and Anthony as they share family stories with you that have been passed down for generations.

Start your Powerscourt journey today by watching the short video below and enjoy the audio guides when you next visit Powerscourt Gardens.

 

 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Wicklow

Four Wheeled Wonders at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Aug 2, 2016 3:45:57 PM

Step back in time and admire various vintage vehicles at Powerscourt, part of Ireland’s ancient east. The Irish Veteran and Vintage Car Club is back for its 39th year at Powerscourt to celebrate the most beautiful period cars in Ireland and share their members’ collections with you. Everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the display in the historic setting of Powerscourt’s walled gardens on the 1,000 acre estate in County Wicklow on Sunday 21st of August from 2 to 4.30pm. Vehicles of all eras and styles will be in attendance, alongside their owners, who are always delighted to tell visitors about their beloved classics.

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FIVA, the international federation of historic vehicles, has named 2016 as World Motoring Heritage Year – both in recognition of motoring history, and to celebrate a new dawn for the historic vehicle movement throughout the world. There will be over 125 historic vehicles covering a vast array of motoring history at the event in Powerscourt.

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Everyone is welcome to come dressed to impress in their best vintage clothes! The event costs €25 for a family of 5 and includes entry to Powerscourt Gardens. For tickets and more information visit www.powerscourt.com/events

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow

Meet Alex, Head Gardener at Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jul 29, 2016 3:58:45 PM

Over the next few months we will meet the people behind the scenes at Powerscourt who keep the estate looking wonderful and provide a great welcome to our visitors. This week we meet Powerscourt's Head Gardener Alex who grew up at Powerscourt Estate and has had a love of the gardens here from a young age. 

Tell us a little about how you got into gardening – what inspired you and have you always loved plants / seeing things thrive and grow?

My first gardening job was to pull ragwort out of the field beside where I live now when I was about 7. My aunt Wendy paid us a rate of one penny per ragwort pulled. Gardening wise I didn’t have a big garden but I was always outside building bases and trees and wigwams. I was happiest outdoors as a child with my playground being the gardens and river walk. Because I had access to the gardens and the river walk and a massive amount of outdoor space without realising this set in motion my desire to spend time outside as a career – I thought this is something that I can do for the rest of my life. What I was happiest doing as a child – being outside – led to landscaping, gardening and a love of watching things grow and develop.

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Was there a single moment when you knew that you wanted gardening to be your full time profession?

I was 11 and I was going around my mother’s garden and being a bold kid. I was whipping flower heads with a bamboo cane and my mother came out and roared at me and she chased me as far as the river walk and I got in a lot of trouble! From that moment on I started to respect plants and flowers and that’s when I decided to look after rather than destroy them!

Have you ever worked on estate gardens before?

I worked as a landscaper in Glencree for 3 years and then as gardener in a private garden for many years. While studying for my degree in horticulture at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin I began working at Powerscourt and have worked here intermittently for the past 5 years. I became Head Gardener of Powerscourt 1 year ago.

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Are there different considerations for looking after such a huge estate space rather than smaller garden spaces? 

It is the same concept but there is a lot more to prioritise on a large estate. Time management is crucial as it takes a lot of time for tasks compared to a smaller space. For example, a rose bed here is four times as large as one from an average garden.

Are there any gardening jobs that require constant attention on the estate?

The roses, the herbaceous border and the formal gardens all require constant attention. High maintenance areas include the Italian Gardens which have straight lines and have to be perfect – we are constantly cutting the grass there.

How big is your team?

There are 6 permanent staff including myself and we take on 2 seasonal staff each summer.

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What is the main priority for the estate grounds during each of the seasons?

In spring our priority is pruning work, lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials and feeding. In summer there are more routine tasks including grass cutting, dead heading and wedding. In autumn we focus on planting, mulching, planting bulbs and winter bedding. In winter we work mostly on projects such as developing and maintaining paths, hard landscaping and tree work.

What should we look out for, plant wise on the estate this year? 

In Spring Powerscourt is full of vibrant colour with our annual tulip festival featuring over 10,000 tulips in bloom. Daffodils and crocuses bring colour to the gardens each spring. In late spring the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias make their appearance. In summer herbaceous flowers come into bloom, roses and summer flowering shrubs. In winter, winter jasmine, daphnes and evergreen trees add interest to the gardens.

Do you tend to draw up schedules and plans for work on Powerscourt Estate?

I do a weekly plan. Each season I have a target list of tasks to get through. Whether it’s a clearing the lakes, working on the trees or cleaning antique statuary, it’s a very varied job.

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What is your biggest challenge when dealing with Powerscourt Gardens?

My biggest challenge is keeping the quality of the gardens at its peak at all times. We plan our gardening tasks around our opening hours so that certain jobs can be completed outside of visiting hours to maximise the enjoyment of our visitors. We are very weather dependent and the weather can play havoc with managing the gardens. A weekly plan can go out the window when it rains and also when it doesn’t rain!

What’s your favourite part of working on the Estate grounds?

I love the herbaceous border. There is a dramatic change along the border when spring arrives and the plants and shrubs come into bloom. It looks entirely different in July than it does in December – the border is an incredible sight to behold at its best in summer.

One favourite garden fact

Biophilia – The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. As humans we depend upon nature and need to interact with and be part of it. We thrive as human beings when we have access to greenery and enjoy our natural surroundings. It is a very current trend as people are developing an ever increasing love of gardening and an appreciation for the environment.

How can visitors help the establishment of the gardens at Powerscourt?

Our members and other regular visitors to Powerscourt are very helpful to us in terms of both positive and negative feedback about the estate. They are a vital part of the estate and are committed to keeping is as the peaceful haven it is for so many people. They act as an extra pair of eyes for us and are really helpful. As gardeners we are focused on the tasks at hand and trying to tackle the gardening challenges before us. As leisure visitors to the estate, our visitors offer a fresh perspective to us. We always appreciate getting feedback.

Thanks Alex! We will continue this interview with Alex next week, before meeting our other team members soon :)

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Gardening, Head Gardener's Blog, Wicklow

Heavenly Herbaceous Border Garden Walk and Talk at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jul 26, 2016 2:19:12 PM

Blog and photos by Kerry Gordon

Alex Slazenger, Head Gardener at Powerscourt Gardens, is a passionate gardener and horticultural innovator with a wealth of knowledge. It was with great fortune that I joined his guided walk and talk set in the vibrant herbaceous border within the walled garden in Powerscourt Gardens. It was to be two wonderful hours learning, enjoying and chatting about the wonder of this border created many years ago and now being nurtured by Alex and his team.

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The restored Venetian Gates where Alex played as a child

At the entrance to the herbaceous border Alex showed us the stunning Venetian Gates which have been painstakingly restored to their optimum beauty. They are magnificent and perfectly frame the beauty of the plants inside and the renovation of the gates has opened up the garden which truly emphasises that this is the biggest herbaceous border in Ireland. With a twinkle in his eyes Alex told us how as child, for his family have owned Powerscourt House and Estate for many years now, he used to climb inside the gates. It was a delightful glimpse into what it must be like to grow up as a child with one of the world’s most famous gardens as your playground.

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Great questions and chats

The stunning herbaceous border within the walled garden is 120 metres long with over 700 varieties of plants, many introduced from around the world in the late 19th century. There is a strong theme of purple within the border which is balanced with underlying yellow bursts of colour and a rainbow of plants of all colours, shapes and sizes that creates a beautiful and soothing environment. In the time of the Viscounts it would have been predominately a kitchen garden with many of the flowers cut to be displayed in Powerscourt House. The border naturally flourishes throughout March to September but with clever techniques Alex and his team are able to extend the seasons.  Many of these plants thrive due to the Irish climate creating this stunning herbaceous border.

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Eryngium

Alex was a passionate guide and explained how gardens evolve, learning by your mistakes and the process of planning your garden. His advice was invaluable and his willingness to answer every question asked was very charming. He is a great advocate of biophillia and talked passionately about the benefits of feeling the soil and earth in your hands.  here is clearly a great passion amongst Alex and his five permanent staff who cultivate and maintain this historic part of our heritage that is truly one of the world’s greatest gardens.

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Vibrant colours along the border

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Heavenly herbaceous border

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Alex, Head Gardener at Powerscourt

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A Eucomis, more commonly known as a pineapple plant or flowers

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Alstroemeria are often used for cut flower displays in the house as they are a long lasting flower

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Meet Roger as Alex and the team call their Rodgersia!

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Rosemary who is usually found hard at work nurturing the border

About Kerry Gordon:

Kerry Gordon lives by the sea in Co. Wicklow, Ireland with her daughter Molly and greyhound Lola. She is a long term blogger for Powerscourt Estate and Gardens and enjoys nothing more than visiting Powerscourt Waterfall, walking in Powerscourt Gardens, followed by a tasty scone and pot of tea in Avoca at Powerscourt House. Kerry can be reached at kerry.gordon@gmail.com or @kerrymgordon on Twitter.

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Gardening, Wicklow

Sense and Sensibility at Powerscourt Gardens

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jul 4, 2016 10:25:49 AM

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Last Sunday, despite the fact that there was an important (by now unmentionable) football match on and also despite the fact that there was intermittent torrential rain, my sister Cáit and I took ourselves off to Powerscourt Gardens to enjoy a bit of 'culture'. We joined Chapterhouse Theatre Company for an afternoon of watching Elinor and Marianne Dashwood make their first forays into the exquisite world of eighteenth-century society, in an open-air theatre adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

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Performed in Powerscourt’s beautiful Walled Garden, it promised to be a most splendid afternoon. What could be better than spending a Summer's afternoon in one of Ireland’s most beautiful gardens while being entertained by one of my favourite stories being brought to life? Well, I'll tell you! 

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Although Cáit and I initially thought we were very clever bringing a picnic blanket and stopping into the Avoca café for coffee and cookies beforehand, it was only when we settled into our spot and looked around us we realised how woefully under-prepared we were.  This open-air theatre lark is exceptionally civilised. All around us, there were people sitting on lovely lawn chairs, with mouthwatering picnics set about them. There were even those who had thought to bring little tables along, to put their bottles of wine and real glass wine-glasses on. The air was filled with the sound of popping champagne corks and all of a sudden we felt quite sad about our (absolutely delicious but somehow inadequate) chocolate chip cookies.

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Despite the absence of wine and fancy picnic food, however, the afternoon was, indeed,  as splendid as promised. The weather held for most of the afternoon. The play was entertaining and well acted and I absolutely commend the actors for not running for cover when the heavens did finally open towards the end - although the rain actually added a great touch of realism to the 'storm' scene, I thought! 

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Cáit and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have decided that we're going again next time. And, in a bid to make up for a slightly missed opportunity of living it up on a Sunday afternoon, we've already decided that there will definitely be wine. And chairs. And the fanciest of fancy picnic food.
 
Won't you join us?
 
Sadhbh Devlin
 
 
See Powerscourt's full programme of events for more things to do over the coming year.

Disclosure: We were invited by Powerscourt Estate to attend Sense and Sensibility for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own, however, and I was not paid to give them.

About Sadhbh:

Hello! My name is Sadhbh.
 
(My name looks tricky to pronounce, but it sounds like the number five... if the number five started with an S - 'Sive') -
I am mama to little twin girls, Lile and Sábha (more tricky names - Lilla & Saw-va!). They are the apples of my eyes.
I am married to Devo, my very lovely and very tall husband.
I love to write, craft, create, hang around in nature, bake, read other people's blogs and as many books as possible, listen to music, learn about and experience as many new things as I can in my one precious life.
This blog is where I write about seasonal celebrations, simple craft projects and the adventures I have with my girls. I also mention fairies and unicorns a fair bit...

You can check out Sadhbh's blog here: http://www.wherewishescomefrom.com/ 

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Topics: Powerscourt Gardens, Events, Wicklow