Get away to a garden this autumn
Historic gardens aren't just for summer. Pull on your favourite coat and unearth the perfect place to visit in autumn and winter. With Rose Gardens, Kitchen Gardens and Walled Gardens, visit a National Trust garden near you and enjoy beautiful blooms, culinary inspiration and sheltered strolls. Unwind as you wander up the garden path to pause by ponds and on benches with views. Pick up a takeaway treat from our cafes and enjoy a warming brew in a special space.
Discover a Secret Garden near you
With a new film adaptation of The Secret Garden, starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters, on Sky Cinema this autumn, a visit to one of our enchanting gardens in Northern Ireland can help rekindle this childhood classic. Breathe new life into the famous tale with a bewitching visit to a National Trust place near you. The plot of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel centres around the restorative powers of a hidden garden in which friendship blossoms and emotional scars are healed. Go in search of your own secret garden this autumn with this list of lesser-known and great gardens to visit in Northern Ireland.
Voted in the top ten gardens in the world, the gardens of Mount Stewart are no secret having gained international recognition for its world-class formal gardens. But did you know there is a secret Rose Garden, hidden within the garden walls?
Where to find it? At the top of the lake walk follow the path to what was once the rose garden, dairy and vinery. Undiscovered by many, this historic walled garden is home to the fragrant and traditional rose garden and one of the oldest grape vines in the UK and Ireland, 'The White Syrian' which was planted in 1769. Work is currently underway to restore this area of the estate, but even in its current state, it’s utterly enchanting.
Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple
Originally created in the 18th century for the ‘Earl Bishop’ Frederick Hervey, Downhill’s ‘Secret Garden’ has only recently been unearthed. In 2016, work began to restore the overgrown site near Bishop’s Gate on the estate. Thanks to this work, visitors to Downhill Demesne can now explore a secluded semi-woodland glade that is filled with seasonal blooms. The view from Mussenden Temple is a little less secret. As one of Ireland’s most photographed locations, have the camera at hand.
What to look out for? The garden at Downhill Demesne is home to a headless 8ft tall statue of Frederick’s brother ‘George’ that was discovered amid the weeds.
Originally built for vegetables, over time the Walled Garden at Rowallane Garden become focused on ornamental planting and today it offers a quiet sanctuary just a few miles from Belfast city centre. A secluded retreat set against the backdrop of meadows and woodlands, the walled garden features herbaceous plants, bulbs and a herb garden.
What to look out for? Rowallane Garden boasts a magnolia so tall that when it blooms in early spring, it can be seen from the car park. Not to be overlooked, the outer walled garden features a pond, a selection of Hydrangea and a young Pocket Handkerchief Tree.
The pleasure grounds at Castle Ward feature a Pinetum, to house trees and shrubs sourced from exotic places around the world, a rockery and the 19th century Windsor Garden, now known as the Sunken Garden. Recently restored back to its historic presentation which was captured on canvas in a painting by Mary Ward in 1864, the sunken garden is one of the best examples of a Victorian garden on the island of Ireland.
What to look out for? The colour scheme of the 61 beds and over 4,000 bulbs changes seasonally so it is a show-stopper throughout the year. Visit regularly to enjoy.
Rose Garden at The Argory
Nestled in this wooded estate beside the River Blackwater are sweeping lawns with two formal gardens. Stroll through the small charming rose garden with dwarf rose bushes in box-edged beds surrounding the striking sundial. While this beautiful display is at its best in June and July when the roses bloom brightly filling the air with a light floral scent, the gardens at The Argory still make a wonderful walk on a winter weekend.
What to look out for? Once you’ve found the sundial, play hide and seek in the magical yew tree arbour, a truly secret place to get lost in the shadows.