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Caragh Nurseries leave their mark on the Lyrath Estate and Hotel

The Lyrath Estate comprises of a beautifully restored Georgian mansion, sitting elegantly alongside the contemporary hotel building. Photo: Caragh Nurseries.

Caragh nurseries were recently tasked with improving the fluidity of the landscaping between the old and the new of the Lyrath Estate and Hotel buildings, here is how they got on.



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24 September 2018

We spoke with Jo McGary, director of Caragh Nurseries – who established the nursery with her husband Ian in 2004 – to get an insight into the project and what this niche markets has meant for them and their business.

Q. When did this project begin?

“We first met Evan McAuliffe of Lyrath Estate & Spa in May of this year, we put a plan together and started the projects in June and completed this stage in August. We have since completed two smaller projects for the hotel and we now are starting designs for a new area of the hotel.”


Q. What were the variety of plants that went into this project?

“In any commercial or hospitality garden we would keep the planting simple; we look at the surroundings and work with what we have and just enhance it.

“The Lyrath Estate is set in wonderful parklands so it was imperative not to ruin that view, but the country house frontage of the hotel has been added to with an equally impressive new addition, so our aim was to blend the two ideas together.

“We used Cupressus bonsai forms planted in simple white fibreglass pots, planted in repetition to draw you towards the new entrance, these were then underplanted, to soften very simply.


“The front of the building with its traditional country house facade was kept in keeping with three-metre tall Yew Pyramids planted in four corners of the courtyard, and then additional planters to guide towards the entrance – the traditional pots adding a splash of gentle colour filled with Nepeta Six Hills Giant.

“We then moved on to the restaurant terrace and again, this building was a new build, with glass frontage and views down to the lake and water features, it was important not to block the vista, but bring the greenery into the terrace.

“We again used fibreglass planters but added some less formal shapes and planted them with established, but quirky, grape vines and underplanted these with Vinca minor. The Vines will lose their leaves in the autumn/winter but the form of the trunk and branches would give enough interest in these months whilst the Vinca would be year round.


“The client also requested trees closer to the building, so we responded with Catalpa biganoides in a 12-14cm girth – with their lovely round head and large foliage – and contrasted this with Photinia Red Robin cones, not too big so as not to take from the heads of the Catalpa which start at two-metres tall.”

Q. Have Caragh Nurseries done many redesigns for hotels in the past?

“Yes, we have found that the plants and maturity that we stock on the nursery is in demand for lots of commercial businesses and hotels, and this has meant that we have niched a specialism in hotel and spa gardens with Killashee Hotel, Keadeen Hotel, Westgrove Hotel, and the Galgorm Resort and Spa.

“We are in progress of two new designs for hotel gardens too. Our clients appreciate not only our design service and advice, but the way we consider what their hotel needs, at the end of the day all companies are looking at profits.

“If we can help them add value to their business by adding a new area for their customers to enjoy a drink reception or for an additional wedding garden, help them stay competitive and add to their bottom line, then we have done our job well.”

Q. Do you see this service, offered by Caragh Nurseries, becoming a major arm of the business in time to come, or has it already?

“We see our business having three very distinct customer bases. Our trade and wholesale business is very important to us and that still forms 45% of our business. Together with the range of providers of quality mature and specimen stock getting smaller, and our wide range of staple products, we can provide a full service to landscapers, golf courses and other wholesale businesses.


“Our niche business in hospitality and hotels is great to see our products being shown off to their best in some of these luxury hotels around Ireland, but is only 25% of our business, but in-turn showcases the stock and helps us build our brand awareness.

“Our retail business is still gaining strength and is not the same as garden centre sales, we are still a working nursery and somewhere that our customers feel they can get great value, plants, and trees that they can’t get from their garden centre, both in size and in quantity, and the specialist advice that goes with growing the products.”

The Lyrath Estate Hotel

The Lyrath Estate Hotel, located in the Kilkenny countryside, is situated on 170 acres of mature parkland. With a fascinating history going right back to the infamous Oliver Cromwell who evicted its owners and took control of the estate back in the seventeenth century; the Lyrath Estate today comprises a beautifully restored Georgian mansion, sitting elegantly alongside the contemporary hotel building, making it the quintessential country resort hotel.

Talk To Jo About Your Next Project

We are currently working on several new projects for hotels and businesses around the country, giving each one a very individual feel and hopefully as always adding value  to their outdoor space. If you would like to talk to us about your next project you can contact Jo via to arrange an initial discussion.

Photos courtesy of Caragh Nurseries.

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