Experiencing this garden is like straying into a benign jungle where the most exotic of plants rule in wild profusion. And if ever there was a place to give a sense of other worldliness it is Glanleam. The 40 acre site on an east facing bay on Valentia Island was created in the 19th century by the 19th Knight of Kerry, with plants sent back by plant collectors from all over the world,particularly Australasia.
Much of the collection and its descendants survive, spreading and growing to enormous proportions in the warming breath of the Gulf Stream, proving the point that things grow faster in Ireland than at anywhere else at this latitude. Paths
wiggle through luxuriant growth past cordylines, bamboo forests, Beschorneria yuccoides, groves of tree ferns, embothrium and myrtles (including the variant Luma apiculata ‘Glanleam Gold’ with cream bordered leaves which originated in the garden.)
Ferns, much collected by Victorians, are a particular feature and include species like the chain fern and the Killarney fern.
The garden is long and narrow in shape with paths winding back and forth between different features and prospects. There is an upper walk through thickets of camellias, a sea walk edged with bluebells and primulas, and a gunnera walk near the house. Streams and water features throughout the garden add to the interest.
[From Georgina Campbell’s Ireland]