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Things to do at Rowallane Garden

Visitors walk along Yew Tree avenue in the snow at Rowallane Garden
Spend time together in nature at Rowallane Garden | © Paul Moane

Discover one of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Ireland, filled with unusual plants, colours and sculptures. The Victorian garden is a mix of formal and informal spaces with dramatic vistas and unique plants from across the world. The trees, plants and shrubs range in age, size and colour, creating a spectacle throughout the year. Explore the Pleasure Ground, stroll through the Walled Garden and wander through woodland.

A garden for every season

Make sure you check out our upcoming events section to see what's in store each month for visitors to enjoy.

Find activities across the garden
Find some nature themed activities across the garden | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

You won’t want to miss…

Meet the Gardener – 13 November

As we move into the Winter months and prepare for the festive season, you can pop along and Meet the Gardener.

Are you just starting out with gardening? Do you have a specific question about planting, propagation, or anything else garden related?

Come along and our garden team will be on hand to help you pave your way to garden success.

Cones and Conifers Garden Tour – 22 November 11.30am – 12.30pm

Join Head Gardener, Claire McNally for a special tour of the Cones and Conifers in the garden collection.

Wrap up warm and embark on a walk through the pleasure ground where we will take a look at some of the rare and unusual specimens from all over the world that call Rowallane Garden home.

Wreath Making Demo – 28 November – 11am – 1pm 5 & December 1pm -3pm

A Homemade Christmas would not be complete without making your own wreath. Join us in the Stableyard and learn how to arrange and decorate this traditional Christmas staple.

Take your newly learned skills home and have a go yourself. Just in time for the festive season.

Santa Letter Trail – 4 December – 24 December – Daily 10am – 4pm

Have you written a letter to Santa? Come and post it with us to make sure your Christmas wishes make their way to the North Pole in time for the big day. Follow the arrows across the garden and solve clues along the way to work out Santa’s postcode.

This festive fun filled walk will lead you to our Christmas Postbox hidden somewhere in the garden. Wrap up warm and make some magic memories with us.

Yuletide Market – 9 – 10 December – 10am – 4pm

Yuletide Market is back!

After a long wait, we’re decking the halls, prepping the stalls and bringing back this much-loved family favourite. Back by popular demand, local traders return to the Stableyard for a weekend of festive fun.

Get in the Christmas spirit with us as you browse the stalls in search of those special gifts, take in the smells of the season and hear the sounds of choirs floating through the garden.

While you’re here, look out for Santa! He may just be out for a walk around the garden and we’re sure he’ll be happy to meet you!

Deck out your Gingerbread Man – 12 & 17 December 11am - 12pm & 1pm - 2pm

Your little elves can use their awesome decorating skills to design and decorate their scrumptious gingerbread man.

Things to look out for

Cones and Conifers walk – Daily 10am – 4pm

In Rowallane House you will find a display of different Cones and Conifers found across the garden. From here you will be able to pick up a walk sheet and go off into the garden and find the trees where they grow.

Using your keen navigation skills, find the compass points in the garden to lead you to each fascinating tree along the walk.

Fun in the Barn – Daily 10am – 4pm

Especially for the kids our barn is loaded with fun activity to enjoy. Perfect for a rainy day the kids can dress up as explorers, play in dens, check out our sensory activity wall for the little ones and check their aim with a festive bean bag toss.

Children must be supervised at all times.

Things to Book

Candle Making Workshop (ticketed) 18 Nov

Get cosy and submerge yourself in the wonderful scents of the season, as you learn all about the candle making process. Our friends at Memory Makers will guide you every step of the way to hand pour your very own candle, with your chosen scent. By the end of the workshop, your candle will be ready to take home to continue to cure - just in time to light this Christmas or to gift to someone special.

For more information and to book, visit:

Pause-De-Cember – Rest and Re-energise at Rowallane – 2 December

Relax and re-energise during National Tree Week. Ann from Xhale will support you to slow down and tap into your mindfulness toolkit, to connect to the present moment and the special wisdom of the Celtic trees in the garden.

Winter is a perfect opportunity to pause, allowing space for reflection, connection and creativity for the new year ahead. We will celebrate our Pause-De-Cember with a taste of nature – warm blackcurrant cordial and a pear muffin.

Please wear warm, comfortable clothing and a few extra layers, walking boots/shoes and bring waterproofs, (hopefully you won’t need them). We will provide you with a small waterproof yoga mat and other materials to support your experience.

Talk a winter walk at Rowallane Garden
Explore the garden on one of our winter walks | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

Winter highlights in Rowallane garden

Scented shrubs and flowering plants

Winter is a great time to visit Rowallane Garden. As other plants start to hibernate, a range of scented winter shrubs come to life. Take a stroll among the flowering viburnums, mahonia, fragrant yellow flowers of witch hazel and the aptly name Winter Box plant that blooms along the front of Rowallane House.

Colour all year round

Did you know that some of the 1500 rhododendrons at Rowallane Garden have been here since the Rev. John Moore planted them over 100 years ago? Rhododendrons can be seen flowering at Rowallane throughout the year, even during the colder winter months. Their purple and pink blooms stand out against the yellow walls of the house as early (or late) as December.

Snowdrops in full bloom

As winter draws to a close, look out for the delicate white bells of snowdrops. Not only are these little flowers brave enough to cope with whatever the weather throws at them, but the colder the weather, the longer they will last – with some even flowering into March.

Take a woodland walk

You can also wander through woodland and take in the fresh scent of the pine trees, take a tranquil walk through the famous Rock Garden and discover the electric-blue bandstand in the Pleasure Ground.

Garden highlights

The Pleasure Ground

With paths looping through the towering conifers, planted by the Reverend John Moore in 1858, you can take in views of the farmland or pause at the bandstand. Formerly a feature of the Newcastle promenade, the carefully restored, distinctive blue structure was donated to the National Trust in 1986.

The Walled Garden

Originally built for vegetables by the Reverend John Moore, the Walled Garden became more focused on ornamental planting under the supervision of Hugh Armytage Moore, John's nephew. As well as herbaceous plants, bulbs and herbs, the Walled Garden also boasts a magnolia so tall that when it's in bloom it can be seen from the car park. The outer Walled Garden features a pond, a selection of hydrangea and a young pocket handkerchief tree.

The Spring Ground

The Spring Ground has sweeping vistas out onto the natural landscape and a backdrop of colour offered by the mix of rhododendrons, azaleas and bulbs in spring and the warm tones of viburnums and changing foliage in autumn. There's always a display on offer in this calm corner of the garden.

The Rock Garden

A natural rocky outcrop was transformed by Hugh Armytage Moore in 1903 following the Victorian trend for rock gardening. The jewel in Rowallane’s crown, the Rock Garden, has been planted to shine in every season, with drumstick primrose in March, orchids through summer and flame tones as autumn approaches.

Woodland walk and Trio Hill

Trio Hill, which borders the woodland walk, offers views across the lower garden from within tall mature woodland. Towards the end of the season, as winter gives way to spring, the carefully managed woodland is carpeted with snowdrops, followed by bright bluebells as the weather warms up. You may notice woodpiles on your walk – these have been left purposefully to encourage wildlife and insects.

Seasonal garden tours

Throughout the year our dedicated Garden team welcome vistors to join them on a guided garden tour. Garden tours will take place on the first Tuesday of the month.

Taking you through both the history behind the garden as well as going into detail about the sights, sounds and smells on offer. There will also be the chance to hear more on future plans for conservation and further development.

Check back each season for a whole new experience. These tours are completely free, although normal admission applies.

The Walled Garden in summer at Rowallane Garden, County Down
The Walled Garden in summer at Rowallane Garden in County Down | © NT / Paul Canning

The second-hand bookshop

The second-hand bookshop at Rowallane Garden is a great place to while away some time during your visit. We have a large selection of fiction and a wide variety of non-fiction including cookery, gardening, history, travel and much more. We also have a lovely children’s corner.

The books are simply priced and generally our suggested donation is £1 for paperback and £2 for hardbacks.

Donate your old books

Without the donation of books; paperbacks, hardbacks, fiction, non-fiction and children's books, we wouldn't be able to keep the shop going.

If you'd like to donate some books, please give our main office a call or email us or bring them with you on your next visit and a member of staff at the Welcome Hut will be happy to help.

A green glazed, handmade teapot sits on a window sill.
Discover beautiful earthernware at Rowallane Garden | © Catriona Corrigan

Rowallane Pottery

Located near the Outer Walled Garden is the Pottery Shed, where Rowallane's resident Potter, Matt whiles away his days crafting beautiful pieces of pottery. Open Thursdays to Sundays, subject to Matt's availability visitors can stop by, say hello and watch as Matt turns lumps of clay into stunning vases, jogs, bowls and cups. Visitors can purchase Matt's work on site or, commision something bespoke.

Plant Shop

Visitors can bring a little piece of Rowallane Garden home with them by picking up a plant or two from the Plant shop located in the garden. What's on offer changes seasonally and all purchases help fund the ongoing conservation and restoration of the beautiful gardens at Rowallane.

Family walking in Rowallane Garden, County Down in November

Discover more at Rowallane Garden

Find out when Rowallane Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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