Open Gardens 2019

Open gardens offer a rare opportunity to explore the secrets of hidden and private gardens not usually open to the public and the Ulster Gardens Scheme is bringing together a spectacular array for summer 2018. Whether you’re a keen gardener eager for some helpful tips, or you simply enjoy the splendour and beauty of unusual plants, there will be something for everyone to enjoy in charming surroundings. While you’re there browse the plant stalls for that special plant or relax with a cup of tea.

Admission £4

All funds raised help support National Trust gardens in Northern Ireland

It is regretted that dogs cannot be admitted even on a lead and thatNational Trust Membership Cards are not valid for entry to private gardens open under the scheme.


Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May, 2–5pm

Mr Sam Harrison,

Beechgrove, 12 Castle Avenue, Castlewellan, BT31 9DX

A plantsman’s garden, developed over a period of 35 years. Year round interest is maintained through a wide range of colourful and unusual plants. The garden is arranged in peninsulas of trees and shrubs which jut onto the lawns, providing attractive vistas and shelter to many specimen plants.

Features include a summer house, pond, island beds, woodland walk and a stumpery. Selected seating enhances the benefits of the scented plants. The garden is wildlife friendly, with birds and butterflies in abundance. Mostly suitable for wheelchairs.

Location: Located within Castlewellan Forest Park. The garden entrance is

the first road on the left (approximately 200 metres) inside the main gates.

Castlewellan Forest Park is signposted in the centre of Castlewellan town.

Plant stall

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May, 2–5pm

Mr Stephen and Mrs Pat Hey,

Riverside House, 7 Crevenish Road, Kesh, BT93 1RF

An informal, flower-filled garden that backs onto the Kesh River, located just moments from the centre of the village. The garden illustrates the huge amount of interest that can be created in a relatively small space by inventive owners through the planting of fruit, vegetables, greenhouse, summerhouse, herbaceous plantings, and a variety of flowering shrubs. New views and interesting items surprise the visitor at every turn, from a raised fish pond to re-used historic elements and a beehive. Not generally suitable for wheelchairs due to grass paths and gravelled areas.

Location: 90 metres from the centre of Kesh. From Enniskillen: take the A47 and join the A35 from Irvinestown to Kesh. From Omagh: take the A32 and then the B4 into Kesh. Note: There is no parking available at the property. Parking is available on public roads and in car parks in the village. The area immediately outside the property can accommodate a very small number of disabled visitors and may be restricted to a drop off zone.

Plant stall/teas

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May, 2–5pm

Mr Michael and Mrs Geraldine Galloway,

1 Ballytrustan Road, Downpatrick, BT30 7AQ

This unique seven-acre garden lies in Lecale, four miles east of Downpatrick and was created by the late Dr Magill over the last five decades of the twentieth century. He transformed a disused quarry into a large sheltered amphitheatre surrounded by trees and shrubs. The present owners have maintained and improved the garden, noted for its collection of rhododendrons. Views into the garden as well as the surrounding countryside are obtained from a circular path through the trees around the quarry rim. Considerable peripheral planting of native trees has been carried out. The garden is partially suitable for wheelchairs and children must be strictly supervised due to the dangerous cliff faces.

Location: From Downpatrick: follow the B1 Ardglass Road. At the Downshire Hospital continue straight ahead on the Ballyhornan Road. At the next crossroads after Ballyalton, turn left into Ballytrustan Road and the garden is on the right.

Plant stall/teas


Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June, 2–5pm

Dr Richard and Mrs Heather Burns,

232 Windyhill Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4JN

An unmanicured, wildlife-friendly, woodland garden set on a hillside with a level area close to the house. Partially suitable for wheelchairs.

Location: From Londonderry and Limavady: take A2 to Coleraine. At Killane and Windyhill roundabouts, continue on A2. Garden is approx. 7.5 miles from Windyhill roundabout, on left. Watch for Ulster Gardens Scheme signs from Windyhill roundabout. From Ballymoney and Coleraine: At Lodge Road roundabout take ring road west, signposted Cookstown A29. Cross river and at Strand Road roundabout, the dual carriage becomes three lanes, take centre lane and continue on A29 signposted Cookstown. At next roundabout (Greenmount) move into right lane and take third exit signposted Castlerock. Continue on this road to Carthall roundabout and turn left. This is Windyhall Road. The garden is approx. 3.4 miles from roundabout on right. Watch for Ulster Gardens Scheme signs from Greenmount roundabout. Note: Some off-road parking may be available.

Plant stall/teas

Saturday 22 June, 2–5pm

Mr T McCaw and Mr T Raju,

Fernhill Cottage Gardens, 44 Dunmore Road, Spa, Ballynahinch, BT24 8PR

A new plant lover’s garden developed by the owners over the past 5 ½ years, overlooking Slieve Croob. The garden is on an exposed windy site with themed island beds and borders having spring bulbs, woodland plants and colourful perennials, shrubs, trees and an orchard. Thoughtful mix of planting extends the gardening year. Not suitable for wheelchairs.

Location: From Ballynahinch: take the A24 towards Newcastle. After the 30mph speed limit (leaving Ballynahinch), turn right onto Spa/Castlewellan (Spa Road). Continue for 1.5 miles entering Spa crossroads. At the crossroads turn left onto Dunmore Road. The garden is on the left 0.6 miles after Spa crossroads.

Plant stall/teas

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June, 2–5pm

Joy and Maurice Parkinson,

154 Ballyrobert Road, Ballyclare, BT39 9RT

Maurice and Joy Parkinson have, over the past twenty years designed and built this unique garden on the site of a 16-acre seventeenth-century farm, steeped in local and national history. The original cottage, barn, and farmyard have been sensitively integrated within a six-acre, Robinsonian style garden containing one of the Province’s most extensive plant collections laid out in sweeping borders and intimate settings. Delightful features including the traditional entrance, a fairy tree, a ‘hole’ tree and a two-acre ‘spiral’, sit handsomely alongside a formal garden, lawns, lake, streams, orchard, meadows and woodland. This garden was selected by the BBC to demonstrate high quality naturalistic gardening and by the Guardian newspaper as one of the top ten secret gardens in the UK. Tours and demonstrations on both days will illustrate techniques of wildlife and ‘naturalistic’ gardening. See Partially suitable for wheelchairs.

Location: Situated on the edge of Ballyrobert village on the B59 between Corrs Corner roundabout at Glengormley and Ballyclare.

Plants stall/teas


Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August, 2–5pm

Mr and Mrs J Rafferty,

The Mill House, 140 Ballynashee Road, Glenwherry, Ballymena, BT42 2EW

This serene five-acre country garden was featured in BBC’s ‘Greatest Gardens’ with Helen Dillon and Diarmuid Gavin in 2015. Woodland plantings of beech, oak, spruce and silver birch are linked by stone paths, approximately half-a-mile in total, with seating at points of special interest. The paths have been extended through a small copse of silver birch under planted with mostly woodland plants including magnolias, azaleas, hydrangeas and hundreds of candelabra primulas. The shady riverside walk defines the area between the Glenwherry River and an old mill race which feeds two ponds. The larger pond, approximately 0.5 acre, has an island and a boat jetty and is surrounded by raised beds on two levels filled with an eclectic choice of plants. From the top of the rhododendron walk, with over 140 rhododendrons, there are wonderful views across countryside designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Location: The garden is situated on the Ballynashee Road, half a mile from the main Ballymena/Larne Road (A36). Approximately 10 miles from Ballymena and 10 miles from Larne. From Ballyclare: take the Colin Road (B94) to the Five Corners pub. Take the second road on the right ((Sawmills Road). Drive approximately one mile to crossroads and turn left onto Ballynashee Road. Drive 2.8 miles to bridge, garden is on the left. From Broughshane: take Rathkeel Road (B94) towards Ballyclare. After approximately six miles at T junction turn left onto A36. After approximately three miles, turn right onto Ballynashee Road. House on right. (Please park on Ballynashee Road.)

Plant stall/teas

Ulster Gardens Scheme - Review Evening

Thursday 14 November 2019 at 7.30pm

The Old Courthouse, Antrim

Join members of the Ulster Gardens Scheme Committee and garden owners for our very popular annual review, when we look back at another successful season’s garden visiting on behalf of the National Trust and enjoy a light supper.

Admission: A charge of £5 per person will be made, to avoid a drain on National Trust funds.

Pre-booking is essential, as numbers are strictly limited. Contact The Old Courthouse on 028 9448 1338 to book.

Please note these are private houses and gardens with no Public Disability Parking.