SOME people travel to New Zealand to be part of the whole “Lord of the Rings” and Hobbit experience. But you don’t have to go that far.
Instead, you could drive 2.5km out of Enniskeane and see a darling Hobbit House at Glenview Gardens.
With friends who are gardeners, friends who are photographers, and sometimes friends who are both, a visit to Glenview had been on the cards for months – ever since I read the blurb in this year’s brochure for the West Cork Garden Trail.
I have to admit that Jeremy Irons – who launched the West Cork Garden Trail on July 1st last – was also rather persuasive on the subject, having reminded everyone present: ‘You are never nearer to God than when you are in a garden.’
His suggestion to ‘go and get lost in a garden’ also had a certain allure. And happily that is what happened at Glenview.
It didn’t start out that way. The parking area – for cars and coaches – seemed rather stark, but once you step beyond the wrought iron entrance gate you couldn’t but be entranced – first with the sunken garden, then with the Wisteria walk, and on and on until every one of the 11 differently-designed gardens were fully explored.
It was halfway through that I met Mary Tanner, who together with her husband, David, meticulously maintains this beautiful three-acre spread. Mary was making a cup of tea in the self-service tearoom and we got chatting.
Nothing could have prepared me, or my friend, when Mary said: ‘Ten years ago this was a field.’
Because ‘this’ – Glenview Garden and Hobbit House – is, for lack of a better word, a ‘wow’ garden. Not just one part. The whole garden is amazing. It leaves you wondering how they do it, with acre after acre of just constant ‘wows’.
David and Mary built their home at Desert, near Enniskeane, 38 years ago and raised a family of four.
For most of that time they were content to tend a fairly standard one-acre garden, which was mostly lawn and a few shrubs. But as their children grew up and left home, the notion to increase the size of the garden took hold.
Like any good obsession, the growing and purchasing of plants became habitual for both David and Mary, and 10 years ago they devoted two acres of their adjoining farmland to extend their ‘hobby’, and leased the rest.
David and Mary say they are ‘amateurs’ but when a garden gets you up and out at 6am every day, and you watch the clock so you can close the gate behind your last paying guest at 5pm so you can make it to the nearest garden centre before closing, there may be another word for it.
Other gardeners are bowled over by their dedication – the beauty of their planting is a given – and the meticulous care each of the 11 unique gardens designs within Glenview is nothing short of inspiring.
Initially, I was drawn to the Hobbit House, having at one stage in my life been a “Rings” fan before I ODed on the movies. This, however, has the power to charm and enthral. And, for a time, I was happy to sit in the Hobbit seat, and warm my toes in front of a peat fire, and think of the wildflower garden growing overhead.
It is not easy to condense the other 10 gardens. Nor the beauty – and five star luxury – of the aviary. But I remember being drawn back several times for one more ‘last look’ at the sunken white garden. To be honest, I can’t tell you which bit is the best bit. But you might like to know that Glenview has got a five-star rating on tripadvisor. And that’s recommendation enough.