Herbal Escape: Brigit’s Garden

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Longing for a bit o’ green this winter? This magical Irish garden is a year-round island of serenity.
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Longing for a bit o’ green this winter? This magical Irish garden is a year-round island of serenity.

Spreading upon the green-hued fields of Rochall, County Galway, Ireland, is Brigit’s Garden, a celebration of Celtic folklore, mythology and heritage. Because of the climate-moderating effects of the nearby Gulf Stream, a surprising array of colorful flowers, herbs and vegetables thrives in this garden, which reflects the four seasons and the cycle of life.

The Winter Garden celebrates the Celtic season of death and rebirth, Samhain, which begins October 31 (Celtic New Year). Here, a stone path leads from a small pool to a quiet sitting area. White birch trees can be viewed in the distance. In early spring, the pond is surrounded with a colorful chaos of flowers.

The Imbolc Spring Garden features a path that leads through a hay meadow and orchard to a basketwork swing. Nearby is the triple spiral symbol of Brigit, a pre-Christian goddess of wisdom of the natural world, and the sixth-century Abbess of Kildare, who became St. Brigit.

Tall white-stone stele guide you though the Bealtaine Summer Garden to a small hollow festooned with wildflowers. A path leads to a fire circle and large throne made of bog oak and yew.

Shorter daylight is a sign of the upcoming harvest in the Lughnasa Autumn Garden. Vegetables, herbs and grasses provide a cornucopia for birds and people alike. Stone steles enclose the area with benches, forming a natural gathering place to celebrate the garden’s bounty.

The Garden Café, which specializes in “slow” food gathered from the garden, is widely considered one of the best dining experiences in Ireland. A gift shop offers hand-made crafts from local artisans. At the center of the garden, a thatched roundhouse is used for exhibits and concerts. Brigit’s Garden includes 11 acres of native woodland and wildflower meadows, featuring a children’s discovery trail, ancient ring fort and calendar sundial–the largest in Ireland.

For more information on Brigit’s Garden, visit www.BrigitsGarden.ie.

Mark Laiosa lives and gardens in  New York City.

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