A UNIQUE RAIN FOREST TREE FERN GARDEN

– populated by dinosaurs, crocodiles & giant ants

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The panorama from the N70 beyond the Mountain Stage on the Ring of Kerry route – extends from the east at Loch na dTrí gCaol/the Lake of the Three Narrows – the promontory spits of sandy beach of Inch, Rossbeigh and Cromane – the whole expanse of Dingle Bay, with the backdrop mountain spine that runs the length of the Dingle Peninsula to the Blasket Islands off the peninsula’s western tip.

The landscape is bare, rugged, almost harsh. Until you get to the semi-tropical micro climate at Kells Bay Gardens, made possible by the shelter provided by Cnoc a’ dTobar (Knockadobar/the mountain of the well).

We had arranged to arrive just at high tide at 12.38 on Thursday afternoon last. A quick dip from the sandy Kells cove was my first sea swim of 2016. It was refreshing!

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Driving through the garden gate, a waterfall on the right, surrounded by lush rain forest-like vegetation. The car park is dominated by a 7.5 meter high Chilean Palm Tree, the tallest in Ireland. It weighed 11 tons when it was imported in 2007.

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Hundreds of tons of local rock was used to replace the native peaty soil that covered this outcrop with the Chilean Palm to allow the introduction of a collection of rare plants – including many palm trees – from rugged landscapes.

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Wandering around the green and red looped walks – with white spur routes – has the feel of being in a much larger area than the 17 hectare/40 acre Kells Bay Gardens.

The seamless integration of native flora with groves of a variety of southern hemisphere tree ferns is the unique hallmark. Tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand as well as South America.

 You need to be prepared to spend a couple of hours to get full value for the €6.50 admission charge (€5 for children under 17, 20 for a family of two adults and two children under 17).

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The tree ferns go back to the primeval forests. Sculptor Pieter Koning has carved an intriguing series of huge animals of that find of forest .. dinosaurs – of land and air – crocodiles, giant ants. These are all carved from trees blown down in the great storm of February 2011. The trees were carved where they fell, in one or more cases the carved trunks are the bottom half of a tree left standing.
Frank Lewis

Kells is about an hour and a half drive from Gallan Eile, our self-catering rental accommodation – for more information or to book a stay at Gallan Eile …

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