Gardens of the North of Ireland (RHS Package)
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- Mount Stewart, the Neo-classical house and celebrated gardens
- The dramatic Richardson’s Walled Garden at Greenmount campus
- The huge eucalyptuses in Mount Stewart’s Spanish garden
- The exotic plantings at Castle Ward
- Hampstead Hall’s Japanese and Italian gardens
The north of Ireland offers a rich feast of horticultural excellence, set against an ever-changing backdrop of lush green hills, fertile fields and glittering seascapes.
The green hills of Antrim, Derry and Donegal are the backdrop to some horticultural gems. The dazzling and idiosyncratic garden of Mount Stewart, enveloped in a benign micro-climate on the shores of Strangford Lough, is truly one of the great gardens of the world. The Italian Garden south of the house is in the form of a giant parterre, edged in startling golden thuja and smouldering purple berberis; and filled with plantings of yellow, scarlet, lavender and grey.
Further highlights of our tour include romantic Rowallane. The liveliest gardening is to be found in the walled garden, where mixed borders are stuffed with big old shrubs and the occasional rare rhododendron animates the scene. Then there are the fine walled garden and tranquil landscaped grounds at Greenmount College; and the historic gem of Antrim Castle – with a number of new, restored and ornamental gardens.
Finally, a journey along the scenic north Antrim coast – by way of the incomparable Giant’s Causeway – takes us to Londonderry, where we venture into the rugged countryside of Donegal, visiting Glenveagh National Park as well as some fine private gardens.
We travel from London to Belfast. Upon arrival we visit Antrim Castle Gardens, an absolute historical gem. The site features a number of notable new, restored and ornamental gardens which retain a strong sense of history and intimacy. We continue to The Richardson’s Walled Garden, set in the tranquil landscaped grounds of Greenmount Campus. The garden has a dramatic, formal framework with softer planting within. Intricate Celtic knot gardens and a small maze throw a wonderful contrast to the colourful mixed borders and rose beds.
Following our visit we continue to our hotel, the Dunadry Hotel where we enjoy dinner in the evening.
Following breakfast, we travel to Mount Stewart, the dazzling gardens bask in the micro-climate of low rainfall and humid coastal air that exists here. The Italian Garden south of the house is in the form of a giant parterre, edged in startling golden thuja or smouldering purple berberis and filled with multi-coloured plantings. In the afternoon we move on to Rowallane Garden. The first impression is one of mystery as you approach the house through a dark tunnel of conifers and rhododendrons, but this is quickly dispelled by the flower-filled spectacle which opens up before you.
Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.
We spend the day touring a selection of gardens in Co Antrim. We travel to the scenic Antrim coast, where we visit the gardens at Glenarm Castle, the 400 year-old home of the Earls of Antrim. We continue along the beautiful Antrim coast, to visit the famous Giant’s Causeway via the picturesque village of Cushendall. In the afternoon we head inland for the gardens at Benvarden in Ballymoney. There is also a rose garden, a box and lavender parterre, a well-stocked kitchen garden with hot houses; a vinery, melon house and espalier-trained apple trees against the high curved brick walls.
After breakfast, we visit Glenveagh National Park, once an enormous private estate, its steep valley sides clothed in natural woodland of oak and birch. Surrounding the castle are Scots pine woodlands and gardens boasting a multitude of luxurious exotic plants which contrast strikingly with the surrounding barren landscape. We continue to Oakfield Park, a Georgian Deanery, which has won several National awards for the restoration of its gardens and buildings. Sitting in a lush landscape of parklands and mature woodlands, it features a large lake, planted with reeds and wild flowers.
We return to our hotel in time for dinner.
We check out of our hotel after breakfast, and travel to our final visit, Hampstead Hall, a fascinating city garden in the suburbs of Derry. Aside from the formal garden in front of the late Georgian house, it also features traditional Japanese and Italian gardens, as well as some lovely exotic plantings.
Following this, we transfer to Belfast for our return flight.
- 4 nights at 4* hotels in County Antrim & Londonderry – dinner, bed & breakfast
- Visits to Mount Stewart, Rowallane, Antrim Castle, Glenarm Castle, Benvarden, and Hampstead Hall
- Services of horticulturalist Trevor Edwards as tour manager
Supplements Per Person
- Single room supplement: £140.00
- Insurance: £21.00 (under 65); £42.00 (65-74); £63.00 (75-90)
Departure points and times
Please note: inbound times for our 26th June departure are one hour earlier (arriving back at London Gatwick at 1840)