What better way to enjoy some time out this summer than amongst some of West Cork’s most beautiful gardens? The West Cork Garden Trail is open for visitors.
West Cork is truly the garden paradise of Ireland with its mild climate encouraging and challenging many gardeners and plant lovers to introduce tropical and unusual plants into their gardens. It was inevitable that gardeners in West Cork would start to visit each other’s gardens to admire achievements and learn new techniques and better ways to protect the environment: Thus over 25 years ago, the West Cork Garden Trail was born. Today the Trail has 27 member gardens spread widely from Blarney, along the coastline, all the way to Cape Clear, up to the border of Kerry and back again along the R586 to Bandon, making it an enjoyable trail of gardens to visit.
The West Cork Garden Trail includes large estate gardens, small private gardens, coastal, tropical, and island gardens, as well as formal and informal gardens. The variety of designs, planting and conditions will have something for every interest and the enthusiastic gardeners on the Trail are happy to share their knowledge and experience with visitors. If you are lucky you might even get cuttings from the gardeners or have the opportunity to purchase and even taste some plants. You can see and learn how to grow vegetables and fruits, in large areas, or small back garden plots. In some gardens you will find out that there are many edible plants that also look very pretty on a plate or in a floral arrangement; in other gardens you can learn how to use plants for remedies or beauty products. Many young people and children interested in gardening and growing their own will get support from these versatile gardeners on the Trail. You’ll get the inside story on plants and their origin and hear some interesting tales of how they got into gardens in West Cork.
Biodiversity, healing the land, and protection of all creatures, great and small, drive these West Cork gardeners to practice environmentally-friendly planting and organic feeding. As nature is always evolving and changing during the year, so are the gardens and the integrated art and surrounding landscapes will make a visit to every garden an exciting new experience. If you have your own established garden or are just starting one, you will find many ideas and helpful advice on how to combine beauty with biodiversity, create a working garden with pleasure, learn how to embrace wildlife and how to increase the size of your own garden by bringing the surrounding countryside into the picture.
Many of the garden owners offer accommodation, a café, art, or simply a place for you to relax and enjoy. Children are very welcome and opportunities are there for picnics in the garden, either purchased on site, or bring your own; just remember to protect the environment and clean up afterwards.
The gardens on the Trail are a safe environment in our troubled times, with plenty of space for social distancing and offering tranquility and beauty in our busy lives. Due to Covid no official events are planned but individual gardens might offer something special. Groups of six or more must enquire with individual garden owners before visiting. Most gardens are open now until the end of the summer and offer season tickets, check for individual gardens, their location, opening times and events at www.westcorkgardentrail.com or West Cork Garden Trail FB page.