Glenarm Castle News

Glenarm Castle Walled Garden

Celebrating an amazing 10 years

When the Walled Garden and Tea Room at Glenarm Castle opened its gates on Monday 30th March it marked a very special milestone. Welcoming over 250,000 visitors over the years, this will be the tenth season it has been open to the public. To celebrate, the estate has extended the visitor experience via a new Castle Trail, offering garden visitors access to view the rest of the estate including the magnificent Castle (subject to availability).

Fifteen years ago Lord and Lady Dunluce set about the ambitious task of restoring the walled garden. With the aim of bringing the garden back to its former glory they consulted and worked with a range of gardening experts to achieve this. This included support from former Head Gardener at Mount Stewart, Nigel Marshall, and, more recently, Reg Maxwell (former Area Manager of Belfast Parks from 1971) until his retirement. With commitment and dedication from local man, James Wharry (Head Gardener) and his team, the garden is continually maintained to the highest standard.

Today the Walled Garden, one of the oldest Walled Gardens in Ireland, welcomes visitors from around the world. In recognition of the tenth season celebrations Glenarm Castle reveals these ten interesting facts;

Sculpture by Angela Sykes– (In the border at the bottom of the garden) Angela Sykes, later Countess of Antrim, was the present Earl’s mother and a talented artist. The sculpture of the Mother and Child was completed when she was only 16 years old and exhibited at the Royal Academy, London.

The Yew Circle – This circular hedge, which surrounds the herb garden and sundial, is one of the oldest features of the garden dating to the 1820’s. On the east side of the circle is a fine, early flowering magnolia, the lemon-scented Magonlia Denudate. In 2014, clippings from the Yew Hedge were used for Cancer Research.

The Herb Garden – The four capitols that sit in this wonderfully scented herb garden originally belonged to the Earl-Bishop Lord Bristol and are thought to have come from his palace at Downhill in County Londonderry.

The Cascade and Fountains – A narrow path flanked by a serpentine beech hedge connects the yew circle and herb garden to the fountain and pool above, fed by rills and a small cascade. The pebbles used for the rills originally came from Glenarm beach.

The Hot Border – One of the most exciting areas of the garden, this herbaceous border is filled with bright reds, pinks, and oranges throughout the season: from tulips and peonies in early summer to bright dahlias and penstemons in the early autumn.

The Kitchen Garden – Growing fruit and vegetables for the big house was once the primary purpose of a walled garden. Now, only this section of the garden is used for supplying fresh produce to the castle.

The Glass House – The glass house, in which apricots and nectarines are grown, dates back to the 1820’s. It is also used to propagate plans for the garden. The structure backs onto whitewashed bothies, once used to house journeyman garden staff.

Remodelling the upper walled garden - Five years ago, a friend of the family Catherine Fitzgerald, had the task of remodelling the upper half of the ancient walled garden, creating a series of ‘rooms', each with different fruit trees. The design included a large grassy mound, the summit of which is ascended by a spiral pathway, providing a panoramic view of the countryside around.

The Obelisk – recently commissioned by Lord Dunluce, The Obelisk, which is situated in the apple orchard, was created by local craftsman, Corin Giles, out of oak. It was unveiled in 2011 by actor Dominic West husband of Catherine Fitzgerald.

The Tea Room – situated in the mushroom house this has been a place for visitors to relax and enjoy the views of the kitchen garden, as well as delicious cream teas or a light lunch.