Northern Ireland boasts some of the most magnificent gardens in Europe that are perfect for family days away, inquisitive horticulturalists and lazy summer picnics.

To celebrate our great green spaces Tourism Northern Ireland has created a green-fingered list of stunning gardens to visit.

1. Benvenden Gardens

Ballymoney, County Antrim

Benvarden Garden

A beautiful walled garden which dates back to the 18th century and includes a woodland pond and a small stream with a waterfall. The garden is one of the finest and best maintained in Northern Ireland and visitors can take in the stables, coach houses, cart houses and tea room which is converted from a former stable.

2. Antrim Castle Gardens

Antrim, County Antrim

Antrim Castle Gardens

Renowned as a historical gem and are the perfect way to spend a day out for a leisurely stroll with friends or family. Visitors to the gardens can explore many beautiful features such as the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond.  After a walk around the gardens why not stop for a rest at the Garden Coffee Shop where you can sample a treat from the menu before visiting the nearby shop which has a unique range of goods.

3. Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Bangor, County Down

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

Officially opened as a visitor attraction in April 2009. The gardens have four distinct sections which are the kitchen garden, the herb and topiary garden, the swamp garden and the flower garden so there is plenty for visitors to uncover and explore.

4. Lisburn Castle Gardens

Lisburn, County Antrim

Once the site of Lisburn Castle, a 17th century fortified manor house. The upper 19th century gardens and the 17th century terraces have recently been restored by Lisburn City Council with aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the gardens main features include mature trees and many historic monuments.

5. Seaforde Gardens

Seaforde, County Down

Couple at Seaforde Gardens

The perfect destination for families as it hosts a Tropical Butterfly House which has a large flight area with hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies as well as reptiles and insects available to view behind glass.  The Tropical Butterfly House is set in beautiful grounds with avenues of mature trees, a maze set in the middle of an old walled garden and many tropical plants.

6. Glenarm Castle Gardens

Glenarm, County Antrim

Couple at Glenarm Castle Gardens. The Walled Garden situated in the grounds of Glenarm Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens dating from the 18th century. Originally created to supply the Castle with its fruit and vegetables, The Walled Garden is now filled with exciting flowers and specimen plants to interest the keenest horticulturalist. Beautiful in all seasons, the garden is open from May, when you can see the fabulous display of bulbs and apple and pear blossom, until the end of September when the garden is still in full bloom with rich displays of herbaceous plants. In recent years under the stewardship of head gardener, Nigel Marshall, The Walled Garden has undergone extensive restoration and improvements including new water features and in 2007 we revealed our new Mount, designed by Catherine Fitzgerald.

Part of the Antrim Garden Trail and is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens dating back from the 18th century.  This stunning garden is a centre of horticultural excellence with water features, fruit and vegetable gardens and colourful displays of flowers.

7. Florence Court

Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Florence Court

Set against a dramatic backdrop of mountains and forests. Visitors can discover the many serene and beautiful areas such as the Pleasure Grounds and the Walled Garden within this magnificent demesne where garden lovers will also find the famous Florence Court Yew. Other interesting features include a saw mill, original ice house and charming summer house.

8. Rowallane Garden

Saintfield, County Down

Christmas at Rowallane

Enchanting garden enclosed within a demesne landscape. The garden reflects the beautiful natural landscape of the surrounding area with spectacular displays of shrubs and several areas managed as wildflower meadows.

9. Castle Ward

Strangford, County Down

Castle Ward

40 acres of parkland containing many beautiful historical garden features such as the Temple Water, the Sunken Garden and the Irish Yew Trees. The grounds at Castle Ward are perfect for those with an interest in garden history and keen gardeners will revel in the trails, stunning vistas and a picturesque farmyard as well as woodland, lakeside and parkland walks with breath-taking view points.

10. Mount Stewart

Newtownards, County Down

Mount Stewart

One of the most popular gardens in Northern Ireland. Visitors can enjoy formal gardens of clipped topiary, impressive colour schemes and a picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful areas of woodland.

Garden lovers should keep an eye out for the Ulster Gardens Scheme which sees a number of private gardens open each year to raise funds to support work in the gardens cared for by the National Trust in Northern Ireland. Some gardens open for one or two days every few years whilst others make their gardens available throughout the summer months ‘by appointment’.

For information on which gardens are open, go to discovernorthernireland.com/gardens

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