I was lucky enough to visit Cluain na dTor earlier this month, a magical seaside garden on the Donegal Garden Trail.
Cluain na dTor is located on the coast of Co. Donegal, Ireland and it is botanical delight for the senses to visit. From a woodland garden and wet meadow to the long perennial borders, from the vegetable garden to the exotic foliage garden, a visit to Cluain na dTor is an immersive experience for the eyes and the mind.
The garden is divided into five areas for visitors to wander around and the first area to whet the appetite is the Bird and Moon Garden. The garden is overlooked by sculpture representing the moon and a cormorant with wings outstretched. This part of the garden is in an open, sunny situation and features many ornamental grasses and unusual, herbaceous, woody plants. A stone bench planted up with stonecrops invites the visitor to sit down and look back at the taster of what is to come at Cluain na dTor.
Wandering on into the main part of the garden, the visitor is greeted with a spiral labyrinth cut from the long grass and it really is something to catch the eye. The wander through the woodlands area is by way of a mown path and is a chance to get up close and personal with acres, cherry trees, birch, azaleas, foxgloves and daylillies.
Lead through by a willow arch, the senses are just overwhelmed by the calm, black, peaty water in the heart shaped pond. The sense of tranquility in this part of the garden is palpable. A natural wooden bench beckons you to sit for a while and lose yourself in the splendour of the pink and white perfect water lilies.
If you can tear yourself away from the mesmerising pond, there is wildflower meadow to stroll through with a succession of native wildflowers blowing in the wind. If you walk to the end of the meadow, the view of Europe’s most northwestern point Bloody Foreland, and the island of Tory can be viewed.
Moving along to the long border, the range of plants native to New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania and South Africa is a surprise to behold. Agapanthus, kniphofia, bottlebrushes and anenomes mingle with more unusual watsonias, rest grasses, pseudowinterii and ozothamnus.
Even the organic vegetable garden which we find next along the grassy path is jam packed with colour and productivity, making it a magnet for pollinators and beneficial insects.
The last part of the garden that the visitor will encounter is the most established being an oasis of tropical foliage. There are tree ferns and palms underplanted with exotic shrubs, grasses and ferns. Bright pops of colour are provided by crocosmia, fuchsias and the most stunning dahlias which were in full bloom.
Around every corner and in between the corners, Cluain na dTor is a rich, horticultural paradise which leads the way in gardening alongside, and with nature at its very core. It is simply a magical experience to walk through and should be a firm destination on the Donegal Garden Trail for anyone visiting the area.