Hillsborough Castle, in the pretty village of the same name, is the residence of the Royal Family when they visit Northern Ireland. Originally built in the 1750s, the running of the castle and the one hundred acres of garden that surround it was taken over in 2014 by the charity Historic Royal Palaces who then began an ambitious project to restore the house and garden to its former glory.
In 2018 the Castle and Gardens opened as a tourist attraction to the public and since then, work has been ongoing to restore the 18th century walled garden – a large, four acre site historically used to produce fruit, vegetables and flowers for the castle. This summer, the walled garden, complete with additional car parking, two cafes and a shop, were also opened to the public and on a recent day off work, that was my destination, because, quite simply, I can’t resist a walled garden !
And, so it was, that I spent a happy hour ( or was it two, I may have lost count), wandering around the walled garden, taking in the beautifully planted herbaceous borders, the herb garden, the wildflowers, the glorious colours, and not forgetting the bees and butterflies who buzzed and fluttered around the garden to their hearts’ content.
Here’s a few of the many things that caught my eye…
The herb patch…filled with sage, thyme, lavender and a swathe of wallflowers
Towers of sweet smelling sweet pea
Last, but by no means least, wildflowers…
The estate is home to many other attractions including the castle itself which you can get a guided tour of, the stunning Lady Alice’s temple and the Granville rose garden, laid out by Lady Granville who was aunt to the Queen.
I really enjoyed my time here (and tea and a scone in the cafe too !) and I expect it will be the first of many visits to see the gardens through the seasons.
For more information on opening times, ticket prices and the history of the Castle and the gardens, please visit the Hillsborough Castle website
Have a lovely Sunday x