1. CELTIC WALK
This is the main central axis of the Sensory Gardens and gets its name from the heavily planted yew trees which border each garden. A distinctive feature at the entrance of the walk is some fine examples of Carlow Fence (a Quaker style wall unique to Carlow). Granite kerbing lines the edges of the walk and crushed granite paving surface allows ease of access for wheelchairs. The
main plants in the border are Nepeta Faassenii “walkers low” commonly known as catmint, a magnet for bees in the Summer months.
Walkers low is a compact mint with masses of lilac/blue flowers, it has blue/green aromatic foliage that cats love. Also we have Calamagrostic Karl Foerster, this is an ornamental feather reed grass, with a long season of interest, giving vertical interest in the garden and Thymus Silver Posie which has pale purple, pink or white whorls of flowers in the summer. Also featuring is Verbena Bonariensis and Camassia Leichtlinii Caerulea, this is a meadow superstar with tall spires of large violet-blue flowers appearing in May and April.
Visitors can walk under our “A” framed roof garden further down the Celtic walk. This is a garden that was bought at an auction at the Chelsea Flower show, it’s got glue laminated beams made of spruce softwood from Scandinavia.
2. PATIO GARDEN
The patio garden is purposefully set up adjacent to the entrance. This is the perfect place for entertaining just imagine barbequing here on a sunny day and having a delicious lunch alfresco with friends and family. You can even shelter under the sails canopy (an Australian idea). Most of the extensive paving here was kindly donated second hand from Carlow County Council during redevelopment work in Tullow Street.
A large circular pond gives a nice back drop in the rear, with water cascading down a series of copper cups. Local sandstone was used to create a beautiful semi-circular raised bed a perfect home for alpines enveloping around the pond. Looking around the patio garden one can see how the lovely natural planting of perennial shrubs and trees has evolved and matured over the past 20 years. The ornamental crab apple trees bring wonderful colour throughout the year with their mix of flower, leaf and fruit. The garden uses circles to create a restful atmosphere.
In this garden you will also get your first taste of the many impressive free standing limestone features which are all carved from local Carlow limestone from the Castle comer Plateau.
3. GAMES GARDEN
The short walk from the Patio Garden into the games garden brings you
underneath some perfectly proportioned arches which supports a wonderful
show of climbing roses called Rambling Rector and beautiful Japanese
Wisteria. When the roses are in bloom, the arches provide a beautiful frame for
wedding photographs something for which the gardens are famous. As you pass
beneath the arches, you’ll see that the garden is divided into three sections
comprising 2 lawns and one gravelled area. You will also see why it is called
the games garden. Not only is there a massive, paved chess board ready for
There are three craved limestone tables for games such as Snail and ladders, Draughts and Giant Jenga. The two lawns areas include picnic benches to sit and relax in and soak up the atmosphere. The games gardens and picnic gardens surround you with colours and aromas including scented Santolina (Lavender Cotton), Salvia Hot lips and two native Rowans (Mountain Ash or Sorbus) which were sacred to the ancients celts. In Autumn you will be able to enjoy the spectacular fire engine red and burnt orange colours of the Liquid Amber Tree (Sweetgum Tree) referring to the pleasant tasting resin that the tree exudes when you peel away the deeply furrowed bark.
4. SCULPTURE GARDEN
On entering this garden, you can view two limestone sculptures carved in situ, organic shapes reminiscent of Ying and Yang. On either side you can capture the imagination of the artist with peas in the pod and fallen conkers from the tree. To the rear is a clever water feature with two large limestone slabs in their raw state from a local quarry and water dropping from the peak into a massive carved limestone bowl.
5. PEACE GARDEN
The main feature in this garden is the wooden set brick pillars offering a home for the many climbing plants for example Honeysuckle, Kiwi, Wisteria, Ornamental Vine, Thornless Blackberry. Water is a feature here with a stainless-steel ball on a free-standing stainless-steel base. A granite ball is also featured with water oozing from the hole at the top into a cobbled based with paving surrounding its own semi-circle shaped seated area with a metal arched entry. Raised beds are also featured with herbs for medicinal, cosmetic and culinary use. Ponytail grasses droop onto the lawn in the small green area. This garden like others is well sheltered with the surrounding beech hedging.
6. WILLOW GARDEN
Living willow has been impressively woven to form arches and a pergola as well as seating fit for a King and Queen. The appearance of this garden dramatically changes from season to season. Other features are a granite statue of a scholar with book in hand and an old-style pump with a trough adding to the tranquil atmosphere. This willow tree garden can be buzzing with wasps, bees, flies and other insects during the late summer. These wasps are probably attracted to the honeydew deposits from sap feeding insects such as aphids.
7. MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN
The sandstone paving here has a central sun shape, bordered with an arrangement of large and small terracotta pots planted up with a mix of herbs such as sage, rosemary, Korean mint and thyme. Also, there is a selection of summer flowering annuals which include cosmos, dahlia, tomatoes, and alpine strawberries. At the end of the garden, you can view a clever water feature with three stainless steel spouts mounted in the limestone wall, with water disappearing into a cobbled trough below. Railway sleepers form a clever attractive perimeter with beech hedging to enclose the space.
8. FORMAL ROSE GARDEN
Formal beds are laid out in a half moon shape with extensive use of Euonymus Japonica “Green Spire” hedging in this large garden with interconnecting limestone gravel paths. Each bed has its own variety of rose and is under planted with thousands of daffodil bulbs for spring colour. The impressive stainless steel circular feature is a time tide ring, giving the month of the year at 12 noon when the sun shines through its eye. Water clings to the outer of the ring in a very impressive fashion. The garden is well protected from high winds being full surrounded by beech and yew hedging.
9. WATER FALLS
Designed by Gordon Ledbetter. This amazing garden consists of a series of waterfalls which flow into a large fishpond with many varieties of fish; also in the pond are some beautiful water lilies in various colours. Other plants are meadow grass and a variety of trees and shrubs to provide interest and colour throughout the year. Look out for magnolias for spring blossom, maples for autumn colour and hardwoods for summer interest. A wooden viewing area cantilevers over the water and allows access for all. Before leaving this oasis you can take a wander on paved pathways and walk under a raised water fall and touch the cascading water and examine our very own “Delta” Stalactites and Stalagmites.
10. THE PAVILION
This offers a much-needed shelter at the end of the gardens and affords a fantastic outlook to the waterfalls and the Health and Wellness Garden through its large plate glass window. It is also a home for features during the many special events in the gardens. This area is a very popular haven for our own sensory groups to just sit and soak up the sights and sounds.
11. IRIS O’BRIEN HEALTH AND WELLNESS GARDEN
Designed by Dundalk man Paul Martin. On entering the garden, you walk down into a dining area complete with a stainless-steel barbecue, herb walls, granite floor and a floating table level with the ponds. Upon first view, looking down the garden along a canal cutting through two contemporary walls, harp lines allow the visitor to be drawn down to the far perimeter and retro brick paths disappear behind screens. As you travel the path, you can gaze along the water and enjoy the colour pallet which changes from greens to whites to blues. Attention to detail is the main thrust where contemporary materials are used in a classical way to create a unique garden and an amazing atmosphere.
12. THE WOODLAND WALK
This is a quiet contemplative walk. It is planted with a mix of large broadleaf trees and under planted with shrubs, ferns and hellebores which give an understory of green with spring bulbs giving a colourful ground cover. We also allow some wild plants to colonise and mix with the cultivated planting plan. Keep an eye out for our friendly insect man with his extended family – this feature was kindly made and donated by Eamonn Doyle from Rathvilly, which is one of his creations in the gardens. On the walkway bordering on to the next garden is a colourful willow panel fence which has been treated with linseed oil.
13. STOLEN CHILD GARDEN
Created by Mary Reynolds. Delta Centre is indebted to the creativity of Mary Reynolds for this natural wonderland. The vision of a romantic wild Irish landscape is projected in a place of magic and faerys. This garden is an example of a new approach; the land is allowed to be full and lush with plants that may be seen as weeds in a modern garden setting. Using wild plants in a structured and simple way shows us their subtle beauty. This garden is not a plant hunter’s paradise but an altogether different concept of an Irish garden. Look out for a very unique grass sculpture at the end of the garden and also some tree sculptures by Martin Monks.
Mary’s original inspiration came from the Yates poem “The Stolen Child”.Created by Mary Reynolds Landscape Designer, Author (from the Wexford area) and nature activist, known to be the youngest contestant to win a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show since it began 100years ago. Delta Centre is indebted to the creativity of Mary Reynolds for this natural wonderland. The vision of a romantic wild Irish landscape is projected in a place of magic and fairies.
This garden is an example of a new approach; the land is allowed to be full and lush with plants that may be seen as weeds in a modern garden setting. Using wild plants in a structured and simple way shows us their subtle beauty. This garden is not a plant hunter’s paradise but an altogether different concept of an Irish garden. Look out for a unique grass sculpture at the end of the garden and also some tree sculptures by Martin Monks. Mary’s original inspiration came from the William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Stolen Child”. The theme of this poem is loss of innocence as a child grows up, written in 1886 when Yeats was 21. The stolen child is one of his works that is strongly rooted in Irish mythology.
“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand
Away with us”
14. THE ROOF GARDEN
This impressive “A” Frame structure was purchased at an auction at the Chelsea Flower Show and has found the perfect home as a central figure in our Sensory gardens. The wooden boxes on the roof are lined with rubber and are planted with sedum grass, which is a colourful grass that does not need cutting. The roof garden is accessible by a wooden stair and the loft area gives the visitor a fantastic vantage point over all of the gardens. One can view the gardens from another dimension. The area under the framed structure is planted as a fernery and other green foliage plant. Visitors can walk under via a gravel path and view our latest sculpture piece of a fern carved in a limestone slab.
15. FIVE SENSES GARDENS
Designed by Rachel Doyle from Clonmore, Co Carlow. On entering, a wooden bridge spans two quirky ear shaped ponds complete with goldfish. Different tactile surfaces are used, including timber, steel, stone, marble and glass. Visitors can sit and inhale the relaxing scent of lavender and curry plants. Lots of vegetables, fruits and herbs are available to taste. The most stunning feature of this garden is the Kugal – one tonne of Indian pink marble floating on a cushion of water, on a limestone base and colourful blue glass surround.
16. 19/2016 MEMORIAL GARDEN
This garden is surrounded and sheltered by a living wall of bamboo and commemorates 1916/2016. A simple layout with a distinctive limestone carving displaying the signatures of the 1916 proclamation. An eternal flame flickers at the heart of the structure. There is a reflective circular pond in the centre of the garden which is encased in an oval shaped lawn area. The opposite corners of the garden have beautifully carved limestone seats set on 100-year-old limestone paving. Each seat has a quote that relates to the Easter Rising one of them reads “Now and in time to be wherever green are born are changed, changed utterly a terrible beauty is born, a line in the poem by WB Yeats. He wrote it as a tribute to Irish men and women who fought in the Easter Rising. There are seven trees planted in memory of the martyrs. You’ll notice a stone plaque at the end of the lawn it marks a special event that occurred here in 2019, when a delegation from the holocaust Education Trust Ireland planted crocus bulbs in this garden, now each spring the lawn is speckled with bright yellow crocus. They a tragic reminder of the Jewish and other children who fell victim to Nazi atrocities during the 2 nd world war 1939 - 1945.
17. Circle of Life
This garden was designed by Elma Fenton from Kildare. Award winning gardening gold medallist at Chelsea. She was tasked with the challenge not only to design a garden but also incorporate an ease of flow with a suitably paving area to the gardens sensory building. The garden encourages meetings, conversations and rest in the circle. The garden is a spiral shape created with vertical Douglas fir sleepers with mature hornbeam trees forming a lovely canopy, these trees were donated from the Nano Nagel garden in Cork. The trees are under planted with colourful sorbaria ‘sem’ shrub and spring flowering bulbs muscarii (grape hyacinth) and alliums. Located to the rear of the garden there is a sculpture of dancing Rods made of hand-blown glass from Ger Point Abbey. They are look like turbans) perched high on tall stainless-steel rods set out in an arch shape, in a bed of green and brown coloured glass paving. In the corner just behind the dancing rods there is a tulip tree.
18. THISTLE FOUNTAIN
This an amazing water feature at the main entrance to the gardens located outside the sensory building. It was purchased during the Celtic Tiger from Fountains and Décor Co Kildare. Water spurting out of the 127 nozzles powered by a large pump forms a perfect thistle but watch out if the wind is blowing you might get a bit wet!! There are some great contrasts of colour in the paving around the fountain, with tobermore heather paving and clever use of limestone cobble semi-circle strips.
19. Musical Fountain
You are not finished oohing and aahing yet, we keep out biggest surprise until the end of your tour. This is a magical water fountain in its own special room within the garden building. Water dancing to the sound of music set of with inter changing coloured lights in a dark room setting, great for the soul!! Acrylic mirrors on the walls add to the scene and reflect the magic on to the floor. Now you say to yourself I will be back!!
20. Eco Roof Top
A large section of a low pitched roof to rear of Sensory Building was constructed with an eco roof. This consists of a ply base, high density insulation and three layers of special felt with sedum grass sown on top. Low maintenance very resilient and changing colour with different season. This affords the building greater energy efficiency and visual appearance. The douglas fir weather board back drop on walls provide a present contrast.