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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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