Categories: OutdoorsNature & Wildlife

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, surrounded by beautiful flowers, greenery and scenery... well you've come to the right place. Here's just a few of the glorious gardens to explore.

Antrim Castle Gardens in Antrim, County Antrim

Antrim Castle Gardens is more than 400 years old and features The Clockwork Garden commissioned as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2022, created by Diarmuid Gavin with dancing trees, twirling flowers and pretty planting. There's also the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pond gardens to explore. 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

Castle Ward doubled as the iconic Winterfell castle in the blockbuster series, and beyond that it has long drawn visitors to grounds because of the planting and beautifully atmospheric gardens.

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.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Royal Hillsborough, County Down

Hillsborough Castle is Northern Ireland's only royal residence, and features over 100 acres of ornamental lawns, woodlands and waterways, as well as vibrant flower beds and the captivating kitchen gardens. Enjoy a pleasant stroll through Lime Tree Walk, the Granville Garden, and take a moment to enjoy the views from Lady Alice's Temple.

Throughout the summer there are lots of family friendly events to enjoy, including the new interactive play trail the "Imaginary Menagerie", as well as garden walks and tours hosted by expert gardeners. Until September, look out for the Platinum Jubilee Blooms, a colourful, vibrant display of flowers in the castle gardens, specially designed to create a more intimate version of the Tower of London's 'Superbloom', celebrating the 70-year reign of Her Majesty the Queen.

As we say, many of Northern Ireland’s best and most beautiful gardens are hidden gems, which means there’s lots more amazing gardens, plants and features to be discovered beyond this short list...

Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House
Garden
Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House

Antrim Castle Gardens is an absolute historical gem. You will find nothing like these 400 year old gardens anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House
Public Park
Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House

First established in 1828, the gardens have been enjoyed as a public park by the people of Belfast since 1895. There is an extensive rose garden and long herbaceous borders and the tree enthusiast can seek out the rare oaks planted in the 1880s.

Castle Ward
The National Trust
Castle Ward

Discover a place of contrasts and creativity at Castle Ward, an eccentric 18th century mansion and estate looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in County Down.

Glenarm Castle
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
Glenarm Castle

With its own special place in local history, Glenarm Castle is a true national treasure. One of Ireland's oldest estates, and home to the Earls of Antrim, Glenarm Castle is a 'must see' destination and one of Northern Ireland's top tourist attractions.

Rowallane Garden
The National Trust
Rowallane Garden

This unique garden has grown from the 19th-century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore, their vision created a place where you can leave the world behind and immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Florence Court
The National Trust
Florence Court

Florence Court is a truly welcoming home. The house, formerly the home of the Cole family, Earls of Enniskillen, is surrounded by a large area of parkland, garden and woodland, with breathtaking views to Benaughlin and the Cuilcagh Mountains.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Historic House / Palace
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Hillsborough Castle is one of the most beautiful, and interesting historic properties in Northern Ireland, and the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland.