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|Price range||From £525|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
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Gardens of Galloway and Northern Ireland
Galloway’s mild, moist climate allows for a wide range of rare and exotic plants to flourish in its gardens, as demonstrated to great effect at places such as Glenwhan, Logan Botanic Gardens and Castle Kennedy, all of which are filled with stunning plants and provide endless fascination and discovery. We then sail across the North Channel to the lush green hills of Co Antrim and Co Down, where a similar climate prevails, and at the dazzling Mount Stewart and selected private gardens there are further horticultural delights to be found.
- 2 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer and 2 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the Dunadry Hotel, Co Antrim. All rooms have private facilities
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Visits to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Logan Botanic Gardens, Cally
- Gardens and the gardens of Corsock House, Glenwhan and Castle Kennedy; the gardens of Mount Stewart, Benvarden, Glenarm Castle and two private gardens in Northern Ireland
- An evening presentation by Scotland’s Gardens Scheme
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays representitive
We depart from our local pick-up points and head for our first visit, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Holywood, near Dumfries. The head gardener will give an introduction to this fascinating space, which encompasses 40 areas of gardens, landforms and architecture. Created by Charles Jencks and inspired by science and mathematics, themes such as fractals and black holes inform the sculpture and landscaping. Natural features, artificial symmetry and curves combine elegantly to form a truly unique garden with undulating landforms and terraces; lakes and woodland walks with James Stirling’s “Nonsense Building”; a new greenhouse in the geometric Kitchen Garden of the Six Senses; the Universe Cascade and Rail Garden of the Scottish Worthies. Following lunch in Dumfries (not included) we will continue to the garden of Corsock House, where a large variety of acid-loving trees and shrubs enhance the natural glades which run down from the loch to the ornamental water garden. Here pools, statues, temples and other adornments have appeared over the years and now it presents an Arcadian scene, all the more remarkable for being situated on the edge of wild moorland. After our visit we will travel to our comfortable accommodation at the 4-star North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer. The hotel dates from 1820 when it was built for Sir John Ross, the Arctic explorer, and enjoys superb views over Loch Ryan. All bedrooms are en-suite, decorated to a high standard and are equipped with TV and hospitality tray. The hotel also has full leisure facilities.
Sunday 9 June 2013
Today after breakfast we visit the spectacular garden at Castle Kennedy. This is a vast and historic piece of landscaping with the garden lying between two castles - the 15th century Castle Kennedy and the 19th century Lochinch Castle, which make splendid eye-catchers to vistas through woods and up hills. North of the old castle are the remains of the early 18th century formal gardens, while the woodland is embellished with an immense collection of distinguished trees and shrubs, large conifers and exceptional rhododendrons. The walled garden has excellent borders, and an avenue of eucryphias and embothriums. For lunch (not included) we will call in at Glenwhan Garden, spread out over a windy hilltop with marvellous views of Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway. Since 1979 the Knotts have made a very large, interesting and individual garden that is filled with good plants. We shall then visit the world famous Logan Botanic Garden at Port Logan, which lies in the Mull of Galloway, jutting out into the sea in the extreme south-west of Scotland. The garden was started by the McDougall family who lived here for 800 years, and since 1969 it has been in the care of the Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh. Logan Botanic Garden is beautifully laid out, particularly in the walled garden with its fine terraces and well planned borders under an avenue of cabbage palms. The climate here is exceptionally mild and several different habitats provide conditions for a huge range of tender and exotic plants. We return to our hotel in time for dinner.
Monday 10 June 2013
This morning we check out of our hotel and drive down to the ferry terminal in time to board the mid-morning Stena Line sailing from Cairnryan to Belfast. We then travel to the gardens of Mount Stewart, which benefits from a benign micro-climate of its own here on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down. Lunch (not included) will be available here before our tour of the garden. The Italian Garden south of the house is in the form of a giant parterre, edged in startling golden thuja or smouldering purple berberis and filled with plantings of carmine, yellow and scarlet on one side, with cooler blue, lavender and grey on the other. Elsewhere, there is a Spanish garden flanked by colonnades of clipped Leyland cypress, with huge eucalyptuses looming in the woods behind, and an exuberant and formal sunken garden surrounded by a fine pergola planted with clematis, honeysuckle and roses. The entrance façade of the house overlooks an entirely different landscape, a scene of serenity with noble trees leading gently uphill to a lake. East of the lake are blood-red and orange rhododendrons and the banks of the lake are planted with long drifts of arum lily. This is one of the most attractive and stimulating gardens, where traditional features are carried off with exuberance and panache. Following this we will visit a nearby private garden in Greyabbey. The garden, which has featured in the BBC TV programme Secret Gardens, was made in a quarry site surrounded by woodland, where several paths lead across streams and by ponds to vista points. The lawns in front of the house are surrounded by colourful shrubs and trees; herbaceous plants abound by the conservatory and there is also a kitchen garden. We then transfer to our hotel, the comfortable Dunadry Hotel & Country Club, in County Antrim. All rooms are en-suite with satellite television, telephone, trouser press, hairdryer and tea/coffee making facilities. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool, spa pool, steam room, gymnasium and beauty salon. Dinner is served in the evening.
Tuesday 11 June 2013
After our full Irish breakfast, we will spend the day touring a selection of gardens in Co Antrim. We begin at a private garden close to our hotel in Dunadry, a five-acre rural garden which is divided into three separate areas. The area adjacent to the house is a mix of hard and soft landscaping with fine mixed shrub and herbaceous planted borders enhanced by large lawns. From the numerous patios there are tempting views towards the well planted Lake and Lake Walk leading to the Badger Wood on the North Side of the house. On the south side of the house is a fine circumnavigating woodland walk with many different and well positioned trees throughout. The garden includes numerous interesting and eye catching garden features and out-buildings. We then travel to the scenic Antrim coast, where we visit the gardens at Glenarm Castle, the 400 year-old home of the Earls of Antrim. Originally created to supply the Castle with its fruit and vegetables, and one of the oldest in Ireland, the Walled Garden is now filled with exciting flowers and specimen plants with rich displays of herbaceous plants. There is also a wonderfully scented herb garden, surrounded by a circular yew hedge, which features four stone capitols which came from the Earl-Bishop’s palace at Downhill in Co Derry. We continue along the beautiful Antrim coast, via the picturesque village of Cushendall, before heading inland for our final visit today, the gardens at Benvarden in Ballymoney. Like Glenarm, this garden has been in the same family for centuries and it too boasts a fine walled garden. There is also a rose garden, a box and lavender parterre, a well-stocked kitchen garden with hot houses; a vinery, melon house and espalier-trained apple trees against the high curved brick walls. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon, where dinner will be served in the evening.
Wednesday 12 June 2013
Following a leisurely Irish breakfast we check out of the hotel and return to Larne in time for the 11.30am Stena Line sailing to Cairnryan (arrives 1.52pm). We will break our homeward journey with a visit to Cally Gardens and nursery at Gatehouse of Fleet. Set in a three-acre Walled Garden, Michael Wickenden has a treasure trove of plants and runs a truly marvellous nursery with an emphasis on unusual herbaceous perennials, most of which are on display. This is truly one of the country’s finest plant centres and offers an excellent opportunity to purchase something a little unusual for your own garden. Following our visit we return to our original departure points.
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