Categories: Plan Your TripThings To Do

Gorgeous Gardens in the heart of the Mournes

Gardening enthusiasts will love this wee corner of the world. Visit Mourne is already something of a paradise to begin with, but over the years its spectacular charm has inspired green fingered pioneers who have worked with the landscape to carve out some sparkling displays of colour and beauty.

If you’re looking for gorgeous gardens, Visit Mourne has them in spades.

Strange and inspiring gardens

Tollymore Forest Park is one of those places you’re unlikely to forget after you visit. Its odd design features, gothic-style gate arches, hidden grottos and strange rocky outcrops are hallmarks of the garden’s designer, Thomas Wright of Durham (1711-1786), who designed the layout in the mid-eighteenth century. They have inspired many visitors since, including the makers of Game of Thrones® who used the park for several of the show’s famous locations. The gardens here are vast and tree lovers in particular will love the mix of exotic trees such as Monkey Puzzle and Eucalyptus and the tall Giant Redwoods and Monterey Pines.

A few miles up the road, Castlewellan Forest Park sits amidst a dramatic and inspiring setting between the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea. There are a multitude of walks and forest trails to take throughout and a visit to the huge Peace Maze is a must for everyone. Gardening enthusiasts should not miss the chance to go on the Annesley Garden Walk. Beginning at Castlewellan Lake, this two-mile walk will bring you through the walled Annesley Garden and the National Arboretum, which features rare conifers, and maples imported directly from Japan. There are many other exotic varieties to enjoy and the arboretum has many trees with record heights in these islands. There is an abundance of lakes and ponds buzzing with life and some of the vistas created by the original gardeners are simply stunning.

Seaforde Demesne and Gardens has been home to the Forde family for almost 400 years. Today, visitors can enjoy the five-acre walled garden and its charming tropical butterfly house and the beautifully maintained maze. There is a delightful cafe on the same site offering the very best home cooked food. Indeed they boast that they keep their menu small to ensure that food is seasonal and sustainable. After lunch take a walk out to the Pheasantry where you’ll find the one-hundred-foot Crimean Pine among other giants.

Small and inspiring gardens

Timpany Nurseries and Gardens are located in an old flax-growing area of County Down. They offer twenty acres of serene gardens and woodland near Ballynahinch. Curated and maintained by Colin and Susan Tindall you’ll find a wonderful collection of rare trees and shrubs as well as lovely wildlife ponds made from disused lint holes in which flax used to be retted to separate the fibres. In Spring enjoy the woodlands and the carpet of snowdrops while Summer attracts butterflies in droves. Autumn is full of wonderful rustic colour and, rest assured, there’s a warm welcome all year round.

The seeds of the enchanting Rowallane Garden were planted by the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh in the 19th Century. The men wanted to create a place where people could leave the outside world behind and immerse themselves in nature. There is a treasure trove of woodlands, plants and unusual vistas and the mix of formal and informal gardens creates quite a spectacle throughout the year. A quiet gardener’s treat.

Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough, Castle Ward offers a twenty-one-mile network of multi-use trails through stunning grounds. Gardeners can enjoy a spectacle of colour in the Victorian sunken garden and there are many forest trails and tracks for dendrophiles.

Tucked up neatly on the shores of Strangford Lough is The Barn Gallery and Rose Garden. This shore-side wildflower garden is a hidden gem. Not only do they display over one-hundred varieties of roses and a wealth of fruit trees, climbers and shrubs, but they also offer visitors some spectacular views across Dundrum Bay over to the Mournes and St. John’s Point Lighthouse. The gentle eco-trial takes you to a hilltop stone circle featuring sculpture and herbaceous planting while the barn itself now operates as a studio and gallery for owner and artist Bernard Magennis.

As you can tell, Visit Mourne is something of a garden in itself, within which you will find countless floral jewels to admire and explore.

Tollymore Forest Park
Nature and Wildlife
Tollymore Forest Park

Oak wood from Tollymore Forest Park was used for the interiors of the White Star liners which included the Titanic. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.

Castlewellan Forest Park - Annesley Garden Walk
Walking & Hiking
Castlewellan Forest Park - Annesley Garden Walk

Beginning at Castlewellan Lake this trail journeys through the Annesley Garden, National Arborteum and takes in a variety of Lakes and Ponds within the forest.

Seaforde Tropical Butterfly House
Nature and Wildlife
Seaforde Tropical Butterfly House

A hornbeam maze at the centre of an 18th century walled garden is the focus of interest at Seaforde. Set in the lush splendour of the Gardens, the Tropical Butterfly House features a large flight area with hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies.

Timpany Nurseries and Gardens
Nature and Wildlife
Timpany Nurseries and Gardens

The Garden has been created by Colin and Susan Tindall. Colin his love for trees and Susan, woodland, snowdrops, ferns, dwarf shrubs and flowering plants.

Rowallane Garden
Garden
Rowallane Garden

This unique garden has grown from the 19th-century beginnings of the Reverend John Moore and his nephew Hugh Armytage Moore, their vision created a place where you can leave the world behind and immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Castle Ward
Visitor Centres & Museums
Castle Ward

Discover a place of contrasts and creativity at Castle Ward, an eccentric 18th century mansion and estate looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in County Down.