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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, including the hornbeam-leafed oak. Situated near Queens University Belfast, the Botanic Gardens is an important part of Belfast’s Victorian heritage and a popular meeting place for residents, students and tourists.
Charles McKimm came to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1874, and was eventually appointed as Head Gardener. His enthusiasm caused many improvements to be made and the gardens were transformed. Belfast Corporation purchased the Gardens and renamed it as the Belfast Botanical Gardens Park. In 1903 McKimm was appointed to a newly created post of General Superintendent of Parks for Belfast.
Palm House history
Designed by Charles Lanyon, the Palm House is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glasshouse. Its construction was initiated by the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society in the 1830s. The two wings were completed in 1840, and were built by Richard Turner of Dublin, who later built the Great Palm House at Kew Gardens. The cool wing houses all year round displays of colour and scent using plants such as geranium, fuchsia, begonia and built displays. Construction of the Palm House began in 1839, and the Tropical Ravine, or Fernery, completed in 1889, is a fine example of horticultural Victoriana.
The Tropical Ravine has had a £3.8m transformation and the listed building which dates back to 1887 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. Visitors will now be able to learn about the conservation work and plant collection thanks to new interactive and digital exhibits. Accessibility has also been improved with the introduction of sensory facilities for sight and hearing-impaired visitors.
Days Out at Belfast Botanic Gardens
In addtion to the Palm House and Tropical Ravine, there is a children's playground, beautiful walks around the grounds and a bowling green. Botanic Gardens is often used for events, such as band recitals, concerts and opera performances.
- Open Evenings
- Open Mondays
- Open Sundays
- Picnic Area
- Tea-room/Cafe onsite
Children & Infants
- Baby changing facilities
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Free access to the gardens except during special events.