The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens tell an intriguing and unique story. in their style and planting they reflect elements of the gardening traditions of the countries and cultures traversed by Lafcadio Hearn during his varied life. The journey begins in a Victorian Garden which commemorate Hearn’s happy childhood summers in Tramore. Later there is an American Garden and a Greek Garden, followed by a series of Japanese inspired areas. Having passed beneath a Fujidana, you will find a traditional Japanese Tea Garden; followed by a Stream Garden which leads to ponds and a waterfall and an extensive woodland area.
The main elements of design, in particular the use of rocks and water and the plant selection, are influenced by the tradition of a Japanese Strolling Garden. The 2.5 acre gardens are set on a hillside overlooking the dramatic sweep of Tramore Bay. Visitors are introduced to aspects of Japanese folklore through several stories written and translated by Lafcadio Hearn. (These include The Cave of the Children’s Ghosts, and the legend of Urashima Taro).
The gardens have been developed on a sloping site overlooking Tramore Bay. The 2.5 acre site has generous rocky outcrops and a natural spring, which has been cultivated to feed three small ponds, an iris-clad stream with several bridges and a waterfall. The grounds are imaginatively laid out in 10 sections, which flow seamlessly into each other. Each represents a period in Hearn’s life.
The first is a small walled garden, with colourful planting in the style of the Victorian period when Hearn spent his childhood in Tramore.
The Greek amphitheatre with its ancient olive tree pays homage to his lost Greek mother, Rosa.
An American garden, replete with drifts of prairie planting, including the beautiful Miscanthus ‘Ferner Osten’, commemorates the two decades he spent in the United States where he began his career as a writer.
Finally there are several Japanese garden areas heavily planted with camellia, azalea and bamboo, with winter colour provided by Euonymus alatus and acer. These include the Japanese tea garden constructed by a master gardener from Kyoto, a stream garden and a magical woodland garden where many ghost and fairy stories are told.
The gardens were inspired by the visit to Tramore in 2012 of Hearn’s Japanese descendants, the Koizumi family, who have supported the project throughout its development. Although its conception was recent, visitors do not feel they are in a young garden, as the various layers have been cleverly interspersed under the canopy of the many old trees existing on the site. Tree planting includes Prunus Tai-Haku, Eucryphia Cordifolia, Zelkova serrata and many varieties of pine and maples.
The garden has already attracted high profile visitors from Japan, most notably, Her Imperial Highness, the Princess Takamado (below in photo) and the mayor and senior officials from Matsue City. Visitors frequently remark on the special mood of these gardens, which really does convey the peace and tranquility that Hearn so loved in his own garden at Matsue. To complete this connection, the Tramore garden has earmarked a small plot upon which to reconstruct Hearn’s ‘North’ garden at Matsue. This is situated close to a relief of Hearn so that the spirit of the wandering writer may gaze eternally over his favourite spot.
OPENING TIMES and ADMISSION PRICES
Gardens Open All Year Round – Monday to Sunday 11.00am – 5.00pm And 11.00am – 4.00pm in Winter.
Adults 5 euro – Children under 12 Free.
Special Rates for Groups and School Tours
See our Website to confirm opening times and for information on Special Events all year round.
The Enchanted Garden – Winter Light Festival by Night – runs during December.