There’s nothing like a drive along the coast road to blow the cobwebs away and it’s even better when your destination is the truly lovely walled garden at Glenarm Castle. We were on our way to meet Reg Maxwell, garden advisor at Glenarm and as luck would have it we bumped into him in the car park as we arrived. So our first port of call just had to be the coffee shop which, in the best tradition of secret gardens, gives only a glimpse of the garden beyond and also happens to be the way in. It looks out on a neat row of low stone bothies, and an orderly vegetable garden with deep pink climbing roses, sweet peas and geraniums adding to the charm.
Its just a taster of the garden proper though and as you enter through a gently curved stone archway its hard to know where to look first. The cool blues and creamy whites of the cool borders stretch out before you leading towards the Yew circle and the symmetrically planted herb garden which it encloses.
Turn left and in the hot border the colours are vivid and bright interspersed with great clumps and sheaves of green foliage from those plants with buds yet to burst. Crimson Peonies, great spears of Fox-Tailed Lilies, Delphinium spires and tumbling Roses jump out shouting “look at me”. And facing them in cool contrast, rows of pleached limes border the lawn and direct your eye to the sky and the great trees beyond the garden walls.
Then there are the orchards where Quince, Mulberries, Medlars, Apples and Pears are delightfully companion planted with clipped box domes, “stand-to-attention” Campanulas and soft meadow grasses and wildflowers.
Yet more fruit grows espalier-style hugging the walls, a pretty rill flows gently toward a tumbling fountain, hedges encourage you to play hide and seek and the glasshouses shelter peaches and strawberries.
Glenarm Castle’s walled garden is magical and inspiring and a delight to visit and it is just one of ten lovely gardens which feature on the Antrim Garden Trail. You’ll find details of them all at www.antrimgardentrail.com
Also on the trail is the Richardson’s Walled Garden at Greenmount College who are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. This weekend they’ll be opening the campus gates for a special Centenary Show with all the fun of the agricultural fair promised. So that’s where we headed next to meet Claire Woods and Alan McIlveen.
Claire reminded us that the first horticultural students enrolled at Greenmount in the 1920’s over 100 years after the walled garden was established. Then it would have had a team of gardeners to provide food for the Manor House, now it acts as lovely living classroom for the students of today.
It is also an inspiring garden to visit and Greenmount would love you to join in their centenary celebrations this weekend. The times are from 11 until 6 on Saturday and from 12 until 6 on Sunday.
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