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Restoring the Kitchen Garden at Florence Court

Exterior of the two glasshouses in the Kitchen Garden at Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh
The Glasshouses in the Kitchen Garden at Florence Court | © National Trust / Ronan McGrade

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund, Landfill Community Fund and other major donors; and also to the work of a dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers, we’re restoring the Kitchen Garden at Florence Court back to its former 1930s glory. The restoration project is well under way with the reinstatement of two glasshouses on the footprint of the original glasshouses that would have been used to grow produce for the estate. The garden is currently producing seasonal fruit, vegetables and flowers that can be enjoyed all year round.

Latest project updates

27 April 2023

Celebrating the opening of the restored glasshouses

Garden party to celebrate the opening of the two restored glasshouses

Staff, volunteers, funders and supporters gathered in the glare of the new structures to celebrate a new chapter in the restoration of the Kitchen Garden. Reinstated on the footprint of the original glasshouses, the two spaces will provide community hubs to nurture a new love of horticulture, history and heritage.

Nestled in the patchwork of the County Fermanagh countryside, this impressive garden sits at the heart of the sustainable Irish estate. Having once provided work for 12 full-time gardeners, the garden and its original glasshouses fell into decline following the departure of the Head Gardener in 1947. It was only during archaeological excavations in 2014 that the original footprint of the glasshouses were rediscovered.

As well as offering the opportunity to grow more plants and vegetables, and respond to climate change through increased regenerative and sustainable practices, the glasshouses will provide a community-led educational space so that those with an interest in horticulture and community gardening can learn more about propagation techniques and other growing skills.

The revival of the Kitchen Garden to its 1930 glory has been made possible thanks to the commitment of a dedicated team of volunteers as well as the ongoing support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project has also been delivered thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, Landfill Community Fund and other major donors.

Gardeners cutting the ribbon to officially open the glasshouses at Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the glasshouses at Florence Court | © National Trust/Ronan McGrade

What will the garden look like?

Once a productive garden

The Walled Garden at Florence Court was created during the late-eighteenth century and remained unchanged for many decades. From the late 1890s up to the Second World War, the garden was at its most productive, with 12 full-time gardeners cultivating produce for the house and wider estate.

Eventually, the garden fell into disrepair – until the estate was gifted to the National Trust in 1995, and parts of the garden were restored, including the Rose Garden and Orchard.

Restoring to the 1930s style

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re now aiming to restore the two-acre Kitchen Garden to its 1930s arrangement, recreating the garden at its most productive and reinstating two glasshouses where the original glass structures once stood.

Additional funding achieved

Thanks to additional funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the project also provides opportunities for the local community, schools, volunteers and education facilitators to engage with local heritage and benefit their wellbeing, through a range of activities based in the garden.

The project is also being delivered with funding from the Landfill Communities Fund, Ulster Garden Scheme and Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust. Find out more about how you can get involved below.

Photograph of the kitchen garden taken during 1930 at Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Photograph of the kitchen garden taken during 1930 at Florence Court, County Fermanagh | © National Trust / Richard Pierce

The restoration so far

Pathways and borders

So far, the original pathways have been restored and herbaceous borders planted with a wide variety of plants, including achillea, asters, bergamot, marigold, cosmos and many summer-flowering bulbs, which are used as cut flowers in the house.

Fruit and vegetable plots

The Kitchen Garden has been restored to resemble the layout of the 1930’s design.

The Kitchen Garden produces a wide range of common seasonal vegetables as well as more unusual vegetables such as yacon, and a range of perennial vegetables such as globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, cardoons and sea kale.

We have over 10 varieties of rhubarb, and an assortment of soft fruits including josterberry, worcesterberry, and boysenberry.

The Kitchen Garden also contains a herb circle featuring quadrants of culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, aromatic herbs and herbal teas.

Attracting insects with flowers

Flowers in the garden include a wide range of dahlias, tulips, and alliums. The plots are edged with calendula and other flowers to attract beneficial pollinating insects, and we’ve installed 110m of espaliers to support native Irish apples.

Birds eye view of the kitchen garden project at Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Birds eye view of the kitchen garden project at Florence Court, County Fermanagh | © National Trust/Ronan McGrade

Involving the local community

As part of the Kitchen Garden Project, we are encouraging community involvement and developing their passion for gardening and nature.

Thanks to support from The National Lottery Community Fund, we’ve created ‘Have a Go’, a series of hands-on experiences that people of all ages, interests and abilities can enjoy in the Kitchen Garden – from flower-arranging and jam-making workshops to children’s trails and gardening tips and tricks.

We have welcomed schools to participate in the Kitchen Garden education programme, which will be funded until May 2023.

The future of the Kitchen Garden

Opportunity to get involved

As we move forward with the project, we’ll be seeking more opportunities for you to get involved – from hands-on exploration of the garden’s archaeology, arts and crafts, planting activities, to pruning of heritage apple trees and harvesting of local and exotic vegetables.

Creating community space

As well as bringing the vision of a working walled kitchen garden to life, the reinstated glasshouses will offer a much-needed community space for hosting lectures, training and skill-sharing, and provide the opportunity to offer internships to local horticulture students, facilitating the teaching of propagation techniques and glasshouse growing skills.

Gardener working in the Walled Garden at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire


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Our partners

The National Lottery Community Fund

The Big Lottery Fund, now called the National Lottery Community Fund, awards money raised by National Lottery players to fund great ideas that help communities to thrive.

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Heritage Fund

Inspiring, leading and resourcing the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

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View through an arch in the garden wall at Florence Court, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Things to do at Florence Court 

Explore Florence Court to discover dramatic mountain views, sweeping vistas of the Fermanagh landscape, a historic walled garden and a native Irish apple orchard.

Florence Bourchier Wrey, married John Cole, builder of Florence Court, a portrait, English School, c.1705-15, at Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

History of Florence Court 

Florence Court is one of the finest examples of a historic sustainable Irish estate. Uncover its 300-year history and learn about the family who lived here.

Birds eye view of the kitchen garden project at Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Grants and funding 

Find out more about the funding the National Trust receives from grants, and the projects it has helped support.

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Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.