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Jellyfish inspired garden open in Blarney Castle & Gardens

A jellyfish inspired garden will be on show in Blarney Castle & Gardens this Friday 26th until Monday 29th August. The concept was developed jointly by UCC scientist Dr Tom Doyle of the School of BEES and the ERI, award winning botanical artist Shevaun Doherty and head gardener and designer at Blarney Castle & Gardens Adam Whitbourn. The aim of the garden is to ‘take jellyfish out of the sea’ and place them in a very different environment, a garden, where we can compare them with plants and flowers so that the viewer sees them in a different and positive light rather than just fear them. The project is funded by the SFI Discover Programme. The garden is framed by six 2 metre tall artworks and a kreisel aquarium with live moon jellyfish in it. A jellyfish inspired rock garden is in front of the artwork and aquarium with plants specifically chosen because their shapes, colours and symmetry are similar to jellyfish. Some plants look like seaweeds and other plants are suspended from the roof to mimic jellyfish tentacles. (Admission to jellyfish garden is subject to Blarney Garden entry fees).

Figure 1: The jellyfish garden is located at the foot of Blarney Castle 


Meet the team

Shevaun Doherty is a Botanical and Natural History Artist. Shevaun regularly exhibits in Ireland and abroad, and has won many awards for her work (Gold and Best in Show in Bloom Festival 2022). Shevaun also teaches to share her enthusiasm for nature and art. She runs a very successful online art course ‘Botanical Elements’ and art workshops around the country and abroad. One of her proudest achievements to date has been to design a set of Irish postage stamps featuring native Irish bees.

Adam Whitbourn is Head Gardener and Designer with Blarney Castle & Gardens. Adam has worded at the castle and Gardens for 15 years and designed and built the Poison Garden in 2014 which is one of the most visited spaces in the castle gardens. Adam has also designed and built a pop up garden for the Bloom garden festival in Dublin to showcase Blarney Castle.

Dr Tom Doyle is a marine biologist and lecturer in zoology at University College Cork’s School of BEES and the Environmental Research Institute. Tom’s research focuses on investigating the ecological role of jellyfish in our seas, socio-economic impacts of jellyfish (e.g. aquaculture and fisheries interactions), First Aid for treatment of jellyfish stings and diet and trophic interactions of jellyfish. Tom also works on animal biotelemetry where he uses satellite and acoustic tags to track the movements of sharks and rays, and even jellyfish.

Figure 2: Shevaun Doherty, Adam Whitbourn, Dr. Tom Doyle 

The jellyfish aquarium

The garden aquarium is a specialised aquarium, called a ‘kreisel’ tank that creates a circular flow of water. The name kreisel comes from the German for ‘merry go round’. Jellyfish need to be held in such tanks because the circular flow of water keeps them suspended and the tank generates no bubbles which can become trapped in the jellyfish bell (main body). The kreisel tank in the Jellyfish Garden was designed and manufactured Schuran Seawater Equipment from Germany.

Project funding

The Jellyfish Garden Project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, which specifically funds projects in the area of public engagement with STEM.

Jellyfish Garden Flyer 2