Situated in the university area of the city, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens have long been popular with locals and tourists alike. The gardens have been a public park to the people of the city since 1895, forming an important part of it’s Victorian heritage. It’s home to a rose garden, a Palm House and a Tropical Ravine which just opened its’ doors to the public last week after a substantial renovation.
During the Easter break, on a rainy afternoon, I had a chance to stroll around the Palm House. It’s one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glass house, construction beginning in 1840, during the Victorian age, when there was growing public interest in horticulture and botany. Two wings were later added by Richard Turner of Dublin who subsequently built the Great Palm House at Kew Gardens.
For any lover of plants and flowers, it’s the perfect little spot for a botanical pick me up. There is a wonderful selection of plants, flowers and trees from the southern hemisphere on display, creating a lovely assault on the senses. It’s a vision of green around every bend, with pops of tropical colour and floral scent rising on the humid air. I wandered around at my leisure, having forgotten what a lovely place this is to spend an afternoon.
I spotted a few familiar plants as I walked around, ones which I have at home as houseplants. In this more suitable environment, there were much bigger in scale and I made a mental note to maybe repot mine !
I spotted this little plant too in several places…its’ delicate pink petals caught my eye and it had a lovely name – ‘Begonia Burgundy Velvet’
And although the place was busy with tourists, I was still able to get an occasional moment of solitude. As I walked through the door to this wing of the glass house and shut it quietly behind me, I had the flowers all to myself for a few minutes. It was really rather lovely.
The Palm House is easily accessible – by foot it’s about a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of Belfast, or you can use one of the many buses that serve the university area of the city. It’s open from April to September, entrance is completely free and you can wander around at your leisure, particularly on a rainy day of which we have many ! Even if plants aren’t your thing, it gives you an insight into Belfast during it’s Victorian heyday and afterwards you can walk through Botanic Gardens or go for coffee in one of the many lovely cafes in the area.
For more information, you can visit the Discover Northern Ireland website.
Have a lovely Sunday.