Belfast Telegraph

Growing interest in getting a peek into gardens the public rarely sees

By Claire Williamson

The National Trust is letting you in on a secret... garden.

Open Gardens offers the public the rare opportunity to explore the secrets of hidden and private gardens not usually open to the public.

The Ulster Gardens Scheme has a dazzling array of gardens in full bloom waiting to be viewed and enjoyed this summer.

Whether you have a special interest in plants and garden design or perhaps you just enjoy seeing unusual and beautiful plants in attractive combinations, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The scheme was launched in March by the National Trust who persuaded owners to open the gates of their stunning gardens to the public.

The first garden in the series was a well-established woodland garden, surrounding a mid-18th century house near Comber. The nine-acre site was full of colourful rhododendrons, camellias and climbers.

The 2014 season continues in Ballyclare as Mr and Mrs Maurice Parkinson open the gates to Ballyrobert Cottage Garden.

The couple have designed and created a beautiful and unique Ulster cottage garden where the built and natural heritage combines with horticultural excellence to stunning effect.

The six-acre space boasts one of the biggest collections of cottage garden plants in Northern Ireland and has been featured in Shirley Lanigan's book 'Best 100 Gardens in Ireland'. They will open the gates to the site on Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3 from 2pm to 5pm. The garden is partially suitable for wheelchairs.

Plants will be available from the adjacent nursery and teas will be served in the garden tea room. Admission is £3 – all funds raised help support National Trust gardens in Northern Ireland.

Ballyrobert Cottage Garden is situated on the edge of Ballyrobert village on the B59 between Corrs Corner roundabout at Glengormley and Ballyclare. The address is Ballyrobert Cottage Garden, 154 Ballyrobert Road, Ballyclare, BT39 9RT.

For a copy of the 2014 Ulster Gardens Scheme leaflet contact National Trust Regional Office, telephone 028 9751 0721 or visit www.ulstergardensscheme.org.uk

Background

Owners of some of the most remarkable gardens open their gates to the public as part of the National Trust's Ulster Gardens Scheme. Some, for one or two days every few years, while others make their green space available all summer long annually as part of the By Appointment scheme.

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