The West Cork Garden Trail takes place in the second half of June and this year the opening ceremony was held at the Heron Gallery Gardens in Ahakista. The gardens are a natural extension of the gallery, cafe and gift shop that Annabel and Klaus operate, with a satellite store in Schull and an online shop.
Annabel and Klaus have only been developing these gardens for nine years, although it’s hard to believe that this was wilderness so recently. Every year brings innovation and new plantings and trails. Although we kept our shoes on this time, we explored the barefoot trail, an invitation to experience the sensual pleasures of texture underfoot and squishiness between the toes. Along the trail we met friendly pigs (say hello to Fuchsia, Fern and Fay!) and climbed the hillside to a bench situated to enjoy glorious views of Dunmanus Bay.
On the way back down we lingered by the pond, where wild flowers have been left to blow enthusiastically on a small hillside.
The more formal parts of the garden are a joy, with colourful herbaceous borders, pools with water lilies, tables and benches for eating or resting, and everywhere delightful, quirky sculptural installations.
This is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch, or coffee and cakes, before a browse around the gallery featuring Annabel’s captivating images. Having travelled along the Sheep’s Head and wandered the garden, her inspirations will be obvious to you – look out for her oil painting of Fuchsia the Pig, or her many depictions of the Irish hare, two of which feel right at home at Nead an Iolair.