beautiful gardens and garden trails to explore in Bantry
Bantry is surrounded by beautiful green spaces where you can take time out from busy schedules and get back to nature. We have stately gardens, nature reserves, forest parks and community gardens to explore. Many gardens in Bantry are also part of the West Cork Garden Trail so plenty to offer garden enthusiasts and those wishing to enjoy the natural environment.
Bantry House & Gardens
Bantry House has been in the White family since the mid 1700′s and the family are still in residence. The gardens were developed by the second Earl of Bantry, Richard White and his wife Mary. Inspiration was taken from their travels across Europe. The gardens contain seven terraces and the house is located on the third.
The fountain within the parterre surrounded by Wisteria sineis and Wisteria floribunda, dominates the southern aspect of the house. The hundred steps from the fountain lead up to the woodland, surrounded by azaleas and rhododendron. The north terraces, with their 14 round beds, are flanked by statues and pots Richard brought from his travels. Facing East, the statue of Diana the Huntress greets the visitor.
The house and gardens are open to the public. Enjoy refreshments from the garden café and appreciate the amazing views out over Bantry Bay. Bantry House is one of Bantry’s treasures, make sure to viist.
For more information visit www.bantryhouse.com
Garinish Island (Ilnacullin Garinish or Garnish) is located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay. The Gardens are the result of the creative partnership of Annan Bryce and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. The island was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953, and was subsequently entrusted to the care of the Office of Public Works.
The Garinish Island Ferry departs from Glengarriff Pier and the trip includes a wonderful visit to Seal Island where you will visit the very tame seal colony. Garinish is world renowned for its breathtaking gardens which are laid out in beautiful walks and feature stunning specimen plants which are rare in this climate. It is a photographers paradise!
The island also boasts a Martello tower on its southern shores which has been restored by the OPW. There is an amazing view of Bantry Bay from the battlements of the tower.
Bantry Peace Park
Bantry Peace Park is a beautiful community garden located within walking distance of the town. With accessible pathways that wind through a variety of flowers, shrubs and a bee-friendly wild garden, it is the perfect place to sit and relax for a moment.
Majestic pergolas tower over carefully planted flowerbeds that follow the path to a garden maze which provides endless fun for all. Dotted around the park are stunning picnic tables carved by local craftsmen and they are the perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day. Incorporated into the park is a multi-use games area with football goals and basketball hoops, ideal to let the children play while you sit in the lovely garden.
The Peace Park is located in Newtown on Glengarriff Road, on the N71, about a 10 min walk from town.
West Cork Garden Trail
West Cork is truly the garden paradise of Ireland, bathed as it is in the balm of the Gulf Stream which facilitates luxuriant sub-tropical growth of a kind associated with much lower latitudes. The gardens here are wonderful and diverse, healing and tranquil and are a must visit.
Bantry is the perfect base to enjoy these spectacular gardens which extend all over the West Cork region.
The Trail is the longest continuously running community organisation of its kind in Ireland and it continues to grow from strength to strength. Such is the level of interest and momentum, it has grown to 25 fabulous gardens, ranging all the way from large gardens as part of stately homes to smaller, private little gems.
There are many events throughout the year which incorporate the garden visits so make sure check them out
For more information visit www.westcorkgardentrail.com
The Bamboo Park
This unique exotic garden is situated in nearby Glengarriff and has thirty different species of bamboo surrounded by palms and other tropical plants. The modern areas were created in 1999 by Serge de Thibault and his wife Claudine on the same pattern of the Bambouseraie in Anduze, near Alès in the South of France. This is the largest bamboo park in Europe and while it only bamboos, the park in Glengarriff has quite a magnificent range of palm trees and tree ferns. The actual age of parts of the Bamboo Park is much older, its history began with the Old Garden, now open to the public and adjacent to the Bamboo Park.
On your strolls you will discover 13 stone pillars, which have an unknown origin. They are suspected to be ancient and their religious significance is only speculative. Enjoy a coffee with delicious homemade cakes on the sunny terrace or buy a plant in the shop. Visitors have access to a private beach with marvellous views to Garnish Island. Free car or minicoach parking on site and dogs are welcome.
For more information visit www.bamboo-park.com
Glengarriff Nature Reserve
The Nature Reserve is situated just outside the village of Glengarriff and is one of the finest oceanic Sessile Oak woods in Ireland. A variety of walking trails are provided to suit a range of abilities. You can take a gentle amble along the River Walk or make the steep, but rewarding climb up to Lady Bantry’s Lookout. Longer options include the Big Meadow circuit, which takes you through woodlands and old grassland, or the more rugged Esknamucky Trail, with its wonderful views out over the trees to the mountains beyond.
The setting of Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve is spectacular, with the woods nestled in the sheltered glen opening out into Glengarriff Harbour. Above the woods rise the Caha Mountains, with their dramatic layers of sheer rock.
Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve covers some 300ha, with the dominant habitats being old oak woodland and young woodland which is regenerating in areas which have been cleared of non-native conifers over the last few years. The woods form one of the best examples of oceanic sessile oak woodland in Ireland, being rated at least as important as the Killarney oak woods. The entrance to Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve is located approximately 1km from Glengarriff village on the N71 and there are plenty of spots for a picnic.
For more information visit www.glengarriffnaturereserve.ie
The Ewe Experience
The Ewe Experience is a sculpture garden and gallery in Glengarriff, a short drive from Bantry. It is a unique combination of nature and art as it is Ireland’s only interactive and interpretive sculpture garden.
Explore the meandering pathways where curious creatures gaze back as you pass. Take the Evolution Walk through the Valley of Eden, weave your way over bridges, past humorous sculptures and discover a surprise at every turn. The creative haven of about six acres has been designed in four very different tiers up a mountainside – each with a theme: Water, Time, The Environment and Ancient Earth.
All ages will enjoy this fun, fantasy filled one kilometre walk, with educational information. Story and poetry lovers can follow the Yarn Spinner’s trail. Play interactive games, find the dinosaur tracks or unlock the vault to see the most destructive animal that ever lived. Amble the fern labyrinth, pass the time with the human sundial, build your own Ewe Create sculpture or just relax by the waterfall with a cup of tea.
For more information visit www.theewe.com
Gougane Barra Forest Park
In the 6th century, in this very beautiful location in the heart of a peaceful valley, legend has it that St. Finbarr, patron saint of Cork, was led by an angel to the source of the River Lee. Here, he founded a monastery, the remains of which and its ancient prayer cells can still be seen today.
Today, a tiny oratory built on an island, surely one of Ireland’s most photographed, greets the visitor as they arrive to this breath-taking and magical place.
For more information visit www.gouganebarra.com
Future Forests Garden Centre
Future Forests is a family run business with a passion for growing and the environment, and one of the leading mail order plant providers in Ireland.
This nursery and garden centre is located just outside Bantry on the Ballingeary road. It is the perfect place to stroll around before choosing from the vast array of plants, trees, conifers, shrubs, hedging, roses, climbers, perennial flowers, fruit trees, soft fruit …and more, with an emphasis on native and unusual varieties.
For more information visit www.futureforests.ie