Garnish Island – A magical island garden
Garnish Island, or Ilnacullin, is a tiny island with a big reputation.
Stashed away in Glengarriff harbour, it is home to a series of gardens showcasing an incredible richness of plant form and colour. Changing with the seasons, it is flush with rhododendrons and azaleas in May and June, climbing plants and herbaceous perennials in midsummer, and awash with autumnal hues, particularly on the magnificent heather bank, in the months of September and October.
How is it so? Over 100 years ago then-owner Anna Bryce joined forces with the Edwardian garden designer Harold Peto. Noticing that the Gulf Stream and the island’s sheltered position blessed it with an almost subtropical climate, they began cultivating ornamental plants from all over the world.
Garinish was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953, and is today managed by the Office of Public Works. It remains a magical island garden, a sanctuary beloved of horticulturalists and casual visitors alike – not to mention the seals that regularly pitch up on its southern shore rocks.