Gardens by Appointment in Down

These gardens are open by appointment in aid of the National Trust for Northern Ireland. Money raised by this scheme will be used to fund projects in National Trust gardens which otherwise might not have been financed. This scheme is in addition to the established Ulster Gardens Scheme of fixed day openings.

Admission £3

77 Magheratimpany Road, Spa, Ballynahinch, BT24 8PA

This delightful 25 acre garden includes a cottage garden, woodland with shade loving plants and a rock garden. There is a wonderful collection of trees and a wildlife pond. Partially suitable for wheelchairs. 

Location: South of Ballynahinch A24. 200 yards past the Millbrook Lodge Hotel turn right on to the Ballymaglave Road, towards Spa. Turn left on to Magheratimpany Road and Number 77 is on the left hand side.

Tel: Dr and Mrs Colin Tindall for appointment on 028 9756 2812
May – September

73 Cahard Road, Ballynahinch, BT24 8YD

This is a garden of over an acre set amidst the drumlins of County Down. The property, which apparently dates from the late 1790s, was acquired by the owners as an almost derelict farmstead in 1974. It is approached by a drive through an acre of trees planted in 1989. The garden itself comprises separate areas for growing fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants. The largest of the ornamental areas has a pergola and a water feature, and is planted with a wide range of trees, shrubs, climbers, herbaceous perennials and ferns. The fruit and vegetable gardens are the only areas readily accessible to a wheelchair.

Location: Roughly equidistant from Ballynahinch, Crossgar and Saintfield.

Tel: Richard and Lyn Mackender for appointment and directions to the garden on 028 9751 1255
Mid May – July

7 Mount Charles North, Bessbrook, Newry, BT35 7DW

The garden is in the delightful 18th-century village of Bessbrook. A connoisseur’s garden with a superb collection of alpines and clematis, cleverly planted with herbaceous plants and shrubs.

Location: From Belfast take the A1 for Dublin then take the A27 turn-off for Newry. At the roundabout take the 3rd exit under the bridge (signposted A28 Armagh). At the 2nd roundabout take the 2nd exit (signposted A28 Markethill/Armagh), after 50 yards turn left onto Kidd’s Road (signposted Craigmore/Bessbrook 2). At Crossroads at Millvale Arms turn right onto B133, after 0.6 miles take first left past Vauxhall Garage, Bessbrook B112. 0.3 miles past the Gospel Hall turn left through the iron gates at railings.

Tel: Mr and Mrs W McKelvey for appointment on 028 3083 8006
May – August

‘Glenkeen’, 12 Dunevly Road, Portaferry, BT22 1NB

This is a 12 year old, informal, half acre garden with a variety of interesting plants. The delightfully colourful garden includes soft fruits and vegetables and is wildlife friendly with bee hives. Woodturning studio, doll’s houses and local crafts for sale. Open 10am to 4pm during Creative Peninsula Week with refreshments available during the week.

Location: From Newtownards take the A20 main Newtownards to Portaferry Road. Approximately 6.5 miles from Kircubbin turn left into Dunevly Road (opposite Lough Cowey Lake sign) Number 12 is just over 1 mile on the left at a U bend. From Portaferry take A20 road towards Newtownards. Dunevly Road is just over 2 miles on the right.

Tel: Ann and Mike Miall for appointment on 028 4277 2418
Groups limited to 15 people
May – end September

‘Forth Cottage’, 67 Lisnacroppin Road, Rathfriland, BT34 5NZ

This cottage garden has been extended and revamped over three generations of gardeners in the family. The changes reflect the greater variety of cottage type plants available in the 21st century and ideas inspired by many garden visits. The south facing road garden, in front of the 19th-century part of the cottage, is planted for year round interest and gravel mulched for ease of maintenance. On the terrace, inside the walled garden, crevice style alpine troughs give spring interest, and gravel paths wind through the beds. The middle lawn is original field grass, with curving beds and a west facing rock solar. The bottom garden is mostly wild flower planting, with the working area, compost bins and the ‘rompers and roamers bed’. The garden is largely wheelchair friendly with plenty of seating available. Car parking limited.

Location: Take the B10 Rathfriland Road, exiting from the A1. Go 7.5 miles, then take a right turn up a steep hill onto Lisnacroppin Road. After 2 miles on Lisnacroppin Road, the garden is on the right. Parking on right after the cottage. From Rathfriland go 2 miles on the B10 and turn left onto Lisnacroppin Road.

Tel: Mrs Helen Harper for appointment on 028 4065 1649
Maximum group of 10 people
May – July

Old Barrack House, 7 Main Street, Hillsborough, BT26 6AE

The garden runs down to Hillsborough Castle walls and having begun with piles of ash and wall to wall dandelions it has evolved over 20 years into a romantic garden, designed and planted by Dawn. Together with Ken they planned layout and maintenance of three ‘rooms’ which include a tea terrace next to the old listed greenhouse and a grassy orchard surrounded by shrubbery and herbaceous planting. The secret garden at the bottom is frequented by birds bathing in the pond and squirrels hiding acorns
while the neighbouring heron tries to steal the fish. Ken feels the garden is full and complete while Dawn cannot resist buying another special plant and constantly adding to the collection. 

Location: Main Street, Hillsborough opposite the Parish Church. Dawn and Ken live in the Old Barrack House - the only house with Wisteria across it.

Tel: Dawn and Ken McEntee for appointment on 028 9268 2329
June – September

5 Ballymoran Road, Killinchy, BT23 6UE

In a beautiful part of County Down, this relatively new plantsman’s garden is a delight throughout the seasons. It contains a wide variety of herbaceous plants, perennials, trees, shrubs and climbers including roses, honeysuckle and clematis. Candelabra primula, Rogersia and other moisture loving plants enjoy a natural wet area. Soft fruits are grown in cages alongside the broad autumn and spring borders.

Location: From north: take the A22 Comber to Killyleagh Road. Turn left onto Beechvale Road, go through Killinchy village onto the Whiterock Road. Turn right onto Ballymoran Road, 200 yards on right is lane with upright stone marked 3-5-7-9. The garden is the first house on the right down the lane. From south: take the A22 from Downpatrick through Killyleagh to Balloo. Turn right onto Beechvale Road and follow as above. Note: not suitable for use with Sat Nav.

Tel: Knox and Shirley Gass for appointment on 028 9754 1012
May – September

‘Coille’, 15 Finnebrogue Road, Finnebrogue Demesne, Downpatrick, BT30 9AA

The garden of about one acre has a woodland setting amidst several buildings of architectural interest in the historic Finnebrogue Demesne. It is an informal garden developed over the past 17 years from a neglected overgrown site. It features interesting combinations of shrub and herbaceous planting for both sun and shade, together with courtyard areas around a collection of 18th-century estate buildings. Partially suitable for wheelchairs.

Location: From Belfast take A7 to Downpatrick. Finnebrogue Road has its junction, a sharp left turn, with the A7, 2.5miles from Crossgar and it links to the A22 Killyleagh/Downpatrick Road, just before the Quoile Bridge.
Entrance to the Demesne is on the north side of the Finnebrogue Road, marked by a red-brick gate lodge and stone gate pillars. The driveway and the surrounding land is in private ownership.

Tel: John and Agnes Peacocke for appointment on 028 4461 1266
June – mid September