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High Summer Highlights

benvardenOpen daily 1st June to 30th August, Benvarden Garden on the banks of the River Bush, County Antrim is a delight in the high summer.  Incredibly the garden has been in continuous cultivation since the 1780’s. In his book, Gardens of Ireland, Terence Reeves-Smyth describes Benvarden as having one of the - "few fully-maintained walled gardens in Ireland and undoubtedly the best in private hands".

The River Bush is used by the nearby Old Bushmills Distillery - Ireland's Oldest Licensed Whiskey Distillery – whilst the distillery does not have a garden per say, they usually have good bedding displays in old whiskey barrels!  Worth a visit for one reason or the other wouldn’t you say!

portstewart strandStill on the north coast, if time permits why not stretch your legs and feast your eyes on the delights of Portstewart Strand. In 2000, the dune system at Portstewart was included in the Bann Estuary ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest), for the rare and fragile habitats/wildlife that it supports. In particular many species of butterflies and orchids including the rare Bee Orchid Ophrys opifera have been recorded, and can be viewed from the way marked trails.

Moving away from the north coast back into County Down, the planting around the 5 acre lake of the Mount Stewart, garden in summer will always be a botanical delight.  Enjoy the majesty of the high eucalypts and the clumps of cordyline which are a favourite throughout Northern Ireland. Summer colour is provided by watsonias, agapanthus and Red Hot Pokers, kniphofia.

21043_Castlewellan_Forest_ParkFurther south a walk around the Annesley Garden within Castlewellan Forest Park in July and August when the “eucryphia walk” is in full flower, will lift the heart and soul, a tonic on those balmy summer afternoons.



21505_Rose_Week_2009The beautiful Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in south Belfast is home to the City of Belfast international Rose Garden, where a magnificent display of over 30,000 rose bushes can be enjoyed in high summer.  The Rose Garden is famous for its Annual International Rose Trials and Rose Week event held every July.  Around 50 new varieties are submitted by international breeders each year and each rose is given points for habit, growth, resistance to disease, flower quality and scent. The highlight of the week will be the judging of the trial roses by a panel of experts.

 The Richardson’s Walled Garden at Greenmount College in County Antrim is one of Ireland's premier walled gardens.  The walled garden was redeveloped for the millennium and hostsopen weekends every summer.


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