In September 2005 during Heritage Week Carlow County Council acquired Duckett’s Grove, an impressive ruined mansion and gothic revival castle, along with its outbuildings of stables, yards, barns, forge and two superb interconnecting walled gardens, a small area of pleasure grounds with a sheltering wood, in all, some 11 acres. This is a small but most important core area of a much larger demesne that was once part of a 12,000 acre estate.
Following extensive and sensitive renovation, the revived walled gardens and wooded pleasure grounds are now open to the public, and once more Duckett’s Grove has become a centre of activity in the rural Carlow countryside. Duckett’s Grove stands as testimony to the dedication and foresight of Carlow County Council, who in acquiring and developing this historic property, has revived a site of great historical and cultural significance for the enjoyment of visitors from home and abroad.
The first phase of the revival of two old walled gardens has now been completed, the old paths revealed and the beds and borders reinstated. Stylistically the new planting schemes echo the past yet reflect changing fashions, utilising plants and planting patterns that may have evolved had the Duckett family or subsequent owners continued to garden there. The superbly constructed brick-lined walls are still studded with the original vine eyes and fruit nails, reminders of the generations of men and women who tended the gardens here.
The Upper Walled Garden, hedged with boxwood, is planted with historical varieties of shrub roses, a collection of Chinese and Japanese peonies, a great range and variety of hardy and tender perennials and choice flowering shrubs including Echium, Watsonia, Acanthus, Jovellana, Daphniphyllum, Acradenia, Arbutus, Cornus, Iris, Eryngium, Beschorneria, Euporbia and to really test the microclimate of the gardens some ornamental bananas.
The Lower Walled Garden once the site of the old orchard, contains a variety of fruits once again, including figs, a mulberry, Chinese gooseberry, reducurrants, blackcurrants, rhubarb, pears, plums and Irish historical varieties of apples including 'Irish Peach', 'Kerry Pippin', 'Sheep's Nose' and 'Blood of the Boyne'. The borders also contain a variety of shrubs and perennials all echoing the past history of the gardens and people associated with Duckett’s Grove.
Hummingbird moths, yellow wagtails, wrens, thrushes, blackbirds and robins have set up home and can be seen enjoying the gardens and wooded pleasure grounds.
The Pleasure Grounds are enclosed in part by a stretch of 'Carlow Fence', a traditional railing made of vertical granite slab stones that is unique to County Carlow. Restored paths and the repaired sunken stone bridge plus plantings of oak, lime, hazel, spindle and laurel rekindle the spirit of the Georgian Pleasure Grounds. The coolness of the hazel wood offers relief from the heat of the walled gardens.