Early spring starts in February for the snowdrop enthusiasts or galanthophiles as they have become known, with the annual homage to the displays at many of the Parks & Gardens such as The Argory in County Armagh, Rowallane or Mount Stewart in County Down. Closely followed in March/April by the Crocus displays.
Daffodils are also abundant in many public and private parks and gardens over the six counties. However the National Collection is held at the Guy L Wilson Daffodil Garden in Coleraine, County Londonderry. Take a stroll through the rare collection of 400 Irish-bred daffodils and narcissus. The show starts in March with full bloom in mid-April. The garden is a memorial to the local daffodil breeder Guy L Wilson.
Driving through the interesting and varied countryside the hedgerows and trees will be awaking from their winter sleep. Watch out for the abundance of the fragrant & scented yellow flowers of the Gorse (also known as Furze, Fuzz or Whin Bush) in the hedgerows of the small fields. It is said that Kissing is in Season when the Gorse is in flower!
Also observe the floriferous masses of 5-petalled white flowers of the Hawthorne Crategus monogyna which ripen to form bright red clusters of berries. White 5-petalled flowers of Blackthorn Prunus spinosa will appear in April-March, before the leaves (followed by purplish fruits (sloes) with a powdery bloom. Blackthorn is used in the making of walking sticks and the traditional Irish weapon the "Shalaly Stick”.
In April and May watch out for the swaths of dusky Blue Bells in the ancient woodlands, particulary good displays can be found at Prehen Wood, County Londonderry and Portglenone Forest, County Antrim. Or visit Ballyrobert Cottage Garden, Ballyclare and delight in the bluebell carpet in this traditional cottage garden.
Mount Stewart and Rowallane gardens are a must see at anytime of the year. However spring & early summer are when the rhododendrons create their amazing stand-out.