At first glance, Iveagh gardens look private: they're ringed by high stone walls and their entrances are hidden. One door lurks behind the National Concert Hall on Earlsfort Terrace, another on Clonmel Street; a few years ago, a third gate was created on Hatch Street, from which a flight of concrete steps (flanked by a wheelchair ramp) leads down to the southernmost end of the circuit of sequestered paths. From here, turn left (leaving the extraordinary mass of gnarled tree roots behind you) and head towards the gorgeous circular rose garden. Stop to smell the roses before continuing on to the miniature maze (a pleasingly symmetrical spectacle, and a welcome activity for those with kids in tow). From here, head north through the trees into the open section of the gardens, where two imposing statue fountains face each other across a sweep of perfectly manicured lawn. After the narrow paths and lichen-covered statuary of the south side of the gardens, the sense of space here is exhilirating.