Monday, 17 February 2014

Rowallane Garden - History and Walled Garden

Rowallane Garden is a National Trust property located just outside the small town of Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland.  Rowallane Garden is noted for its collection of Azaleas and Rhododendrons and therefore the time to see them is the spring.    It is also home to the National Collection of Penstemons however the garden can be enjoyed in ALL seasons.

The Garden features a Walled Garden, a natural Rock Garden Wood, Wildflower Meadows, a Farmland and a Woodland Walk.  The house below has recently being refurbished into a a Visitor Centre as well as  tea-room and shop and the headquarters of the National Trust in Northern Ireland has moved its offices into the stable block.  Rowallane Garden's creators have resulted in the garden becoming one of international importance.

To give you an idea of the history surrounding Rowallane, I photographed these facts I found in the Visitor Centre and made them into a collage.

May 1935 Hugh and Janie relaxing the the walled garden with G Taylor,
Editor of Country Life

1950  Hugh in the outer walled garden at his favoured Hydrangeas

Outside the house I  found this friendly Robin.

 In creating the main drive the Reverend Moore exposed outcrops and rocks as features. He modified some outcrops by blasting the bedrock in 1873 to create the serpentine line of the main drive and provide an easy gradient. 

The primitive style of the Rowallane cairns and stone seats has echoes of Neolithic and later prehistoric constructions which dot the Irish countryside. The local smooth, round bap stones are rarely used for garden ornament and their use at Rowallane is unusual as their primitive character is unrelated to modern architecture.

For the main drive he used recently exposed rock as features. This is spectacularly seen in the rock cutting capped with lion statues and a throne chair (below).

The garden is of national importance within the context of the United Kingdom for its design and its range of Far Eastern wild collected species material. It is of international importance, particularly within the context of Ireland as one of the major historic plant collections.

It was wonderful to see the carpet of snowdrops under this tree.

These Crocuses looked like purple soldiers standing to attention
as I passed by.

These Snowdrops are bowing their heads when I passed by.

Come with me as I wander around the Walled Garden.

 The tower is the most prominent structure at Rowallane and followed a well established trend for the estate owners to build towers for prospect and aspect. These features represented a sense of security and power, as well as the wealth to build an unnecessary structure.  The other building is the stable block

This is just one of many beautiful Hellebore's flowing in February and I will show you more tomorrow.

In 1937 the paved area in the Walled Garden was laid out in the shape of a Celtic cross. Seedlings of Viburnam Plicatum Tomentosum, a tree renowned for producing a conspicuous show of flowers, was sent to Hugh from a local friend Sir John Ross of Rostrevor. One was planted within the cross and subsequently named after Rowallane. It was awarded the AGM (the Award of Garden Merit) in 1969.

 I thought this little pond a delightful feature and I hope in the summertime there will be Dragonflies hovering over the water.


Fushia fulgans

Salvia confertiflore
I came across the 2 plants above in the greenhouse 
doing their best to keep blooming.

As I was approaching the Courtyard, before going to a meeting with 2 of the staff at 10.30am, I spied 2 male Bullfinch.  These are the only 2 photographs I got of them as a noisy tractor approached and disturbed them.


 Inside the Courtyard

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the garden has beautiful Rhododendrons that bloom in the spring however I did find a number blooming now and I will leave you with one photograph at present.

Tomorrow I will show you many more plants and birds that I came across as I walked around the Rock Garden and further afield.

I hope you enjoyed visiting this wonderful garden even at a time when there is not as much in bloom.

Thank you for visiting and also to those who left comments on any of my blogs.

Also thanks to Lucy Bain, the head Gardener at Rowallane Garden for supplying me with a lot of the correct plant names.


  1. What a fabulous place Margaret - thanks for the tour!

  2. Thanks for a wonderful tour Margaret- I would never otherwise get to see such a place.

  3. A lovely walled garden, especially the Bullfinch, lol.

  4. That was so beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  5. What a lovely write up Margaret. Great pictures too!- Lynne

  6. i like a lot of the natural features and stones.

  7. That is a wonderful place to have to visit, the blooms and birds are lovely .

  8. That was a lovely tour Margaret, and great to see the flowers on a cold February day. The birds were beauties and this place you took us to was so very interesting.

  9. WoW...what a wonderful entry, so many beautiful images!! your cardinal are so cute and very different then mine!! we will be seeing crocus soon, maybe in a few weeks!!

    1. HI Debbie No, we do not have Cardinals over here, I do wish we had as I think they are beautiful little birds especially the males. These birds are Bullfinches. Many thanks for your comment and I am so glad you enjoyed the visit.

  10. That really is a beautiful place to visit Margaret, and you even chose a lovely sunny day in which to do so. i think i could easily spend a day there, especially with Bullfinches to photograph.

  11. What a glorious place. Thank you so much for the tour.

  12. What a beautiful place! Such wonderful and fantastic photos! Gorgeous!

  13. What a gorgeous place, Margaret. I love gardens and walled gardens. You will have to go back there in the Spring and do the blog all over again. Bet it is incredible then.

    Cute little birdies.

  14. Hi Betsy I am so glad you enjoyed the garden and I certainly will be back to see it in the glorious spring. Mind you I dread to think how many shots I will take then because when I took these photographs the other day, it was over 250 and I have had to make 2 posts to complete it. I hope you enjoy the next 2 days shots as well. Many thanks for your comments.

  15. What a fascinating place to visit. I like the history, as well as the rock outcroppings in the gardens and the tower. Thanks for this very interesting post.

  16. Beautiful scenes. The greens are so refreshing during our winter.

  17. A really interesting post - thanks so much for sharing. Wonderful photos and what a beautiful walled garden - loved the bullfinch :)

  18. Quite palace to walk around Margaret, lovely to see the snowdrops and crocus.