Historic Houses & Gardens
Northern Ireland has a garden for every season and every mood. If you love historic houses and glorious gardens, Northern Ireland is full of exciting locations.
Botanic Gardens has been enjoyed as a public park by the people of Belfast since 1895 with two of the most notable early greenhouses in Europe - the Tropical Ravine (currently closed) and the Palm House. You can also find the striking bird of paradise and colourful bromeliads, to name a few exciting species.
The beautiful Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is home to the City of Belfast International Rose Garden, where a magnificent display of over 30,000 rose bushes with a Victorian garden where you will find exotic trees and tree rhododendrons.
Glenarm Castle Walled Garden an amazing walled garden, crisp and colourful in a wonderful undulating landscape. Beautiful in all seasons, the Walled Garden and Tea Room are open from May, when you can see the fabulous display of spring bulbs, apple and pear blossom, until the end of September.
Further south and inland, be sure to visit Antrim Castle Gardens and Clothworthy House. This historical gem has a magnificent setting, and beautiful features such as the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Garden and Yew Tree Pond.
In County Down a simply “must see” in on the list of gardens of the UK, if not the world, is Mount Stewart. The great diversity of styles and plants from every continent were ingeniously combined by Lady Edith Londonderry (1879-1959) to produce a garden of outstanding quality & character.
Located in the picturesque village of Hillsborough Co Down, Hillsborough Castle Gardens estate is now open to the public, with 98 acres of beautiful gardens which have been developed from the 1760s. These gardens offer a contrast of ornamental grounds peaceful woodland, trimmed lawns and meandering waterways.
The beautifully landscaped Downhill Demesne, Castlerock is set on the wild and rugged north coast. The best known features of this famous demesne are the exquisite Mussenden Temple and the ruined palace of the eccentric nobleman, Frederick Hervey, the famous Earl Bishop of Derry. But if you enter the estate via the Bishop’s Gate you come upon an appealing modern ornamental garden.
Situated on the edge of the picturesque Sperrin Mountains you will find the pretty 17th century ‘Plantation’ home of Springhill, County Londonderry. The herb garden is designed around a scented Camomile Lawn. The Camomile Lawn has a long tradition in big houses in the British Isles. The Elizabethans enjoyed the sweet fragrance that filled the air as they walked on the soft, springy Camomile.
In a wooded park above the river Blackwater, the early Victorian house of The Argory, County Armagh is surrounded by sweeping lawns with two formal gardens. A charming rose garden and the Pleasure Ground. In the quiet market town of Markethill you will find Gosford Forest Park, comprising 240 hectares of diverse woodland and open parkland in gentle rolling drumlin countryside.
The magnificent gardens of Florence Court in County Fermanagh, are overlooked by the dramatic outline of the Cuilcagh mountains. Florence Court is well known to gardeners as the home of the Irish Yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigata’). The original tree discovered in 1760 can still be seen, its offspring are now featured in gardens throughout the world. It is known affectionately as the ‘Mother of all Irish Yew trees’!
Nearby, The National Trust’s Crom Estate is one of Ireland’s most important nature conservation areas and is home an ancient yew tree designated one of the 50 Greatest British Trees. This huge tree is actually two yews situated a few steps apart — one male, one female — thought to have been planted close together in the 17th century. They have grown to give the appearance of a single remarkable tree.
It’s not just within the formal gardens of Northern Ireland that you will discover exciting and unusual flora and fauna. Take a trip to Peatlands Park, County Tyrone to explore the history and heritage of Northern Ireland’s bogland. Within the park are two National Nature Reserves, declared as such for their unique flora and fauna species, many of which are found nowhere else in Northern Ireland.
To find out about Sundew – a rare plant found in local boglands, visit the An Creagán Visitor Centre, County Tyrone and follow the Biodiversity Trail walk. Waymarker signs along the winding gravel paths and boardwalks allow visitors to experience both woodland and wetland habitats where a variety of flora and fauna can be observed. The natural landscape is also a haven for many wild birds.