Categories: OutdoorsNature & Wildlife

Perched out here on the north-western corner of Europe, our mild, temperate and maritime climate makes perfect conditions for gardening. No wonder then that we have some of the most beautiful and inspirational gardens waiting for you to discover them.

Antrim Castle Gardens in Randalstown, County Antrim

Antrim Castle Gardens is more than 400 years old and features the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond. The gardens are designed around the magnificently-refurbished Georgian splendour of Clothworthy House within which you’ll find the garden heritage exhibition.

This is where you can hear and read all about the history of the gardens and the Massereene family who originally owned the house. The planting here is beautiful and very varied, highlighting architectural features such as the Italianate tower, octagonal gate towers and the T-shaped canal water feature.

Botanic Gardens and Palm House, Belfast

A wonder of Victorian design and planning, the Botanic Gardens were established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society. Today not only is it one of the city’s most popular meeting and strolling places, featuring an extensive rose garden and long herbaceous borders, it’s also home to an extraordinary collection of exotic and tropical plants housed within its iron and glass Palm House and Tropical Ravine.

The Palm House was designed by Charles Lanyon, and is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glasshouse. The Tropical Ravine has been restored with many of its original Victorian features reinstated and preserved. Split over two levels with an open reception area on the ground floor, the building has been modernised to make it more energy efficient with new triple-glazed windows installed to retain heat and create the right environment for the tropical plants it is home to.

Castle Ward Gardens, Strangford, County Down

These days many visitors associate Castle Ward with just one thing: Game of Thrones. Castle Ward doubled as the iconic Winterfell castle in the blockbuster series, but Castle Ward has long drawn visitors to its battlements and grounds, not least because the planting and gardens here are so beautifully atmospheric.

Situated in a stunning location overlooking Strangford Lough, Castle Ward is a unique 18th century house with a Gothic façade. Inside its beautiful 820-acre walled demesne you will find an exotic sunken garden and paths that wind their way through woodland and suddenly open onto the quiet shores of the Lough. Designed and planted in the Victorian era, the gardens have been recently restored to their vivid best, with colours changing as the seasons progress.

Florence Court Kitchen Garden, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Surrounded by lush parkland and thick woodland with Benaughlin mountain rising in the background, Florence Court enjoys a majestic countryside setting and even gave its name to the nearby village of Florencecourt.

On a guided tour of the Georgian mansion you can hear stories about the Cole family and their staff, who lived here for over 250 years.

Since March 2014, the National Trust, under the guidance and expertise of its lead gardener, David, has been returning the walled garden at Florence Court back to its former glory as a 1930s-styled Kitchen Garden. There are now two good garden trails here, Red and Blue, which guide you through the highlights of the gardens, including the Pleasure Gardens, the Ice House, the Rose Garden and Kitchen Garden. The Blue trail will bring you past the famous Florence Court Yew – reputedly the ‘parent’ of all Irish yew trees – as well as Rose Cottage, built in the 18th Century.

Glenarm Castle Walled Garden, Glenarm, County Antrim

Glenarm Castle Garden is one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens dating back to the 18th century. The ancestral home of the McDonnells, Earls of Antrim, who once resided at Dunluce Castle, Glenarm Castle is a real hidden gem.

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 garden enthusiast.

Beautiful and filled with colour throughout the seasons, the garden is open from Easter, when you can see the fabulous displays of spring bulbs along with the apple and pear blossom, right up until the end of September when the garden is still in bloom with rich displays of herbaceous plants.

Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, County Down

Rowallane Garden is one of the most beautiful but least-well-known gardens to visit in Northern Ireland.

The garden has grown from the 19th century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore. Their vision helped create a place where you can leave the outside world behind and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty as you wander the Pleasure Ground, Woodland Walk, Rock Garden and other trails and pathways here. Honey, soap and pottery are also made on site here by artisan producers inspired by their surroundings, and the products can be found in the on-site shop and tea rooms.

The gardens are a mix of formal and informal spaces with many unusual vistas and unique plants from across the world. The trees, plants and shrubs range in ages, size and colour and create a spectacle throughout the year.

Here you will find a mix of formal and informal garden spaces to explore. Journey through the walled garden, rock garden and wildflower woods to discover the secret gardens within the garden.

As we keep saying, many of Northern Ireland’s best and most beautiful gardens are hidden gems, which means there’s still more amazing gardens, plants and features to be discovered.