“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” (Gertrude Jekyll)
A garden is a well thought out space that is designed and cultivated to show the beauties of nature, the intricate and infinite interactions of plant species and provide a place of thoughtful interaction with nature. For centuries, no major castle or public facility has been complete without one.
Gardens located in Northern Ireland reflect the architectural designs of previous generations and put on display the great variety of flora available to be seen. Give yourself a treat and when traveling through or visiting Northern Ireland, take a break from the pace of the day and visit these top 5 gardens in Northern Ireland.
Established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society, the Botanic Gardens was originally created with exotic trees and plants from southern regions. The original garden eventually became financially insolvent under the control of the Society and was sold to the Belfast City Council. The Council reopened it in 1895 and it has thrived since then.
Contained within the Garden are the Tropical Ravine and the Palm House. The Tropical Ravine is currently undergoing a complete 3.8 million restoration. It houses some very old seed plants, cinnamon, banana, bromeliad and orchid plants. You will also view flowering vines, tree ferns, and leaf silhouettes. The Palm House contains hanging baskets, birds, and tropical plants. During the Victorian period, it demonstrated how iron structures with glass can assist in growing exotic plants.
Bangor Castle Walled Garden
In County Down and located within the city of Bangor, take note of the Bangor Castle Walled Garden. Having won the coveted Green Flag Award and the Royal Horticultural Society Award, this garden with its looping arches and inspiring sculpture is sure to please.
The location also offers a cafe and tours by appointment are accepted. The garden is open from April til November of every year.
Antrim Castle Gardens
Reaching all the way back to the 17th century, make sure you acquaint yourself with this garden. This garden won the Special Award in 2012 from the Tranlink Ulster in Bloom competition and continues to live up to this distinction. If you fancy a guided tour, one may be arranged.
Consider it a day long investment as you take in this garden. The grounds come accompanied by a variety of interesting ways to spend your time. From learning of the history of the garden in the museum to actually booking your own course of study regarding the history of the grounds, you will find many items of interest.
Take a walk through the art gallery inside the Long Barn or absorb the beauty of the Garden Heritage Exhibition. This exhibition will reveal the history of the Masserrene family and how they impacted the growth of Antrim town.
Be sure to see the roof of the Eyre Studio as it is a state of the art nature roof that offers a variety of sustainable and natural benefits to the building it covers.
Have a coffee in the Garden Coffee Shop and take home something special from the gift shop. Hospitality and refreshments for groups can be arranged in the Coffee Shop. If you have an association with a company, organization, or society and find you are in need of a venue for meeting and conferencing on special occcasions, the grounds may be rented. Civil weddings occur on this garden’s grounds. The grounds and buildings are equipped with level access for all levels of mobility and baby changing rooms are on offer.
Antrim Castle Gardens are open all year round apart from Christmas and New Years holidays.
Garden of the Celtic Saints
In Irvinestown, one may find a different kind of garden. This garden is a religious one depicting and memorializing the saints of the golden age of the Irish Church.
The primary attraction of this meditative and beautiful garden are the statues of saints carved from Irish oak and revealed through the artist Jonas Raiskas from Lithuania. The garden is a religious offering to the public from the auspices of the Devenish Parish Irvinestown.
One may also pay a visit to the Memorial of The Irish Famine nearby this garden.
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park
In south Belfast lies a very popular park, home to the City of Belfast International Rose Garden.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but this particular grouping of roses attracts vistors to its grounds and Rose Week celebrations during July of every year.
The layout includes a Japanese style garden, camellia trails, a walled garden and access to the Lagan Valley Regional Park. Included are over 128 acres of grounds with a variety of plants and animals to see.
Originally offered to the public in the 18th century, the grounds were part of the Wilmont estate first owned by the Stewarts. It functioned as a farm and a place for bleaching linen. It has had several different owners throughout the years, but was finally offered to the public by Lady Dixon Park who provided it in the name of her husband Sir Thomas Dixon Park, a High Sheriff of Belfast.
So there you have it. Whether you fancy a sophisticated guided tour through the history of an estate, the religious offerings of the Irish Celts or choose to go with a serene and calm walk through a quiet, well manicured garden, the options in Northern Ireland will always please.