Delta Sensory Gardens have been voted the best place to visit in Carlow by Trip Advisor several years running. And described as “An Oasis of Peace and Tranquility”.
These gardens are unique for many reasons. And have so much to offer the visitor during all the seasons of year.
Delta Centre was established in 1990 as a centre for adults with intellectual disabilities. And the centre is currently the main employer in the town of Carlow for about 120 people with disability. Delta Sensory Gardens were officially opened in 2007 and were the first of its kind in Ireland, combining the attractiveness of a tourist facility with therapeutic benefits for disabled people.
Covering an area of 2.5 acres, Delta Sensory Gardens is one of the main attractions in Carlow County. They consist of 16 interconnected multi sensory gardens which you can walk through.
The individual parts were designed by leading Irish garden designers, among others such as Gordon Ledbetter, Mary Reynolds, Rachel Doyle, Paul Martin, and Elma Fenton. They designed themed gardens using natural elements such as stone, water and various plants. Including: Thistle Fountain, Circle of Life Garden, Memorial Garden, Five Senses Garden, Stolen Child Garden, Roof Garden, Formal Rose Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Willow Garden, Sculpture Garden, Games Garden, Peace Garden, Woodland Garden, Iris O`Brien Health and Wellness Garden, The Pavilion, The Waterfalls, Patio Garden.
Each of the gardens gives visitors a great opportunity to relax and provides sensations for all the senses, you can not only enjoy the view of beautiful, often very rare plants, but also touch, smell, taste …
There is also a part of the Garden Center Shop where you can buy lots of different seedlings and plants.
Garden Centre Shop
Delta Sensory Gardens are located at Strawhall Estate, one and a half kilometers from the centre of Carlow town and can be visited from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 17:00, the cost of the ticket is 6 euro.
Location of Delta Sensory Gardens:
Right at the entrance there is a very original and amazing water feature “Thistle Fountain”. After purchasing the ticket you can enjoy the view of this gushing fountain. Water spurting out of the 127 nozzles powered by a large pump forms a perfect thistle.
Circle of Life Garden
“Circle of Life” is a garden created by the award-winning gardening gold medalist Elme Fenton. That garden encourages meetings, conversations and rest in the title circle. There is a sculpture “Dancing rods” made of hand blown glass.
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. There are seven trees planted in memory of the martyrs.
Five Senses Garden
One of the most beautiful and extraordinary parts of Delta Sensory Gardens is in my opinion the “Garden of the Five Senses”. That garden was designed by Rachel Doyle from the Arboretum Garden Centre. The wooden bridge is the entrance to the garden from two sides. There are a lot of vegetables, fruits and herbs and they are available for visitors to try. However, the most stunning feature of this garden is Kugal – one ton of pink marble floating on a water cushion (the largest of its kind in Ireland).
Visible from a distance, distinctive and original part of Delta Sensory Gardens is “Roof Garden”.
“Patio Garden” is decorative courtyard, decorated with plants, modern sculptures and a fountain. There is also a “hotel for insects”.
Stolen Child Garden
The “Stolen Child” garden inspired by the poem by W.B. Yates is a wild, magical and full of otherness place. This garden is an example of a new approach to gardening, full of lush shrubs, or rather “ordinary” weeds, wild plants but composed so that they give the impression of subtle and even beautiful plants. In this garden you can also see a unique sculpture of a sleeping monk.
Formal Rose Garden
“Rose Garden” is a type of garden that is always a great attraction throughout the flowering season. In the middle of the garden is a ring – an amazing function of water, a circle that rotates and water flows inside. On the inside of the ring is a solar calendar.
The paving here represents a large dramatic Sun, an arrangement of large and small terracotta containers planted with an amazing selection of exotic plants. At the end of the garden, you will find a wall water feature mounted in limestone, the water flows from the stainless steel spouts and disappears into a cobbled trough.
“Willow Garden” is very romantic garden, ideal for taking wedding photos in it. Here you will find garden furniture that is fun, growing and has a rustic feel. A collection of arches and pergola and seating fit for a King and Queen.
“Garden of Sculptures”, abstract sculptures are really impressive, you can let your imagination run wild by thinking about their meaning. And this was probably the idea of their creators, because the very entrance to this part of the garden is dominated by two limestone sculptures whose organic shapes resemble Ying and Yang.
Giant draughts board or a chessboard and tables carved from Carlow limestone provide areas for playing giant Jenga and Noughts & Crosses. The garden also incorporates a lawn area for playing Boules and Croquet, a summer house and picnic tables.
“Oasis of peace” – it is a beautiful and magical garden, with a gold and silver sphere in the centre and an owl motif.
This is a garden planted with a mix of large broadleaf trees and under planted with shrubs, ferns and hellebores. This is a quiet contemplative place. This garden was designed by Gordon Lebetter.
Iris O`Brien Health and Wellness Garden
Designer Paul Martin has created a unique, very original and amazing garden.
A pavilion for shelter during our inclement Irish summers. It is also a home for features during the many special events in the gardens. This area is very popular haven for own disability group just to sit and soak up sights and sounds.
“The Waterfall” is another amazing garden that consists of a pond with live fish, a bridge and a waterfall. This is the first waterfall in Carlow that is completely accessible to tourists, you can go and dip your hands in the water, and go around the waterfall. This garden was designed by Gordon Lebetter.
Delta Sensory Gardens are beautiful gardens full of surprises. It is worth visiting them again and again. The perfect place to relax.
After the tour, you can go to the restaurant – Delta Centre Cafe, eat something, drink or buy products manufactured by Delta Centre.