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The secluded grounds of Kilmacrew House harbour some of the most scenic, historic and enchanting private gardens in Northern Ireland. These beautiful gardens have been opened to the public only once in the last twenty years. But on 30 May, for one day only, the garden gates will be thrown open for a good cause – to raise money for the RSPB. Though the main house will remain closed, this is a rare chance to view the gardens in full bloom.
Because of its maturity, the gardens offer enchanting walks along rustic winding pathways where colour, scent and sound combine in a delicate feast of the senses. The four-acre site is home to many rare plants gathered from around the world. These include the exotically named Dutchman’s pipe, Monkey Puzzle and Ghost Tree. In addition there is a pair of massive beech trees, known affectionately as the ‘grandmother and grandfather’ of the garden.
In addition to its botanical value, its rich history of owners include Rev. J.D. Martin whose sister–in-law, Helen Waddell, used to visit regularly. Known as the “Darling Of Ulster”, Ms Waddell was an outstanding writer and medieval translator. She won several accolades, including the Royal Society of Literature’s A C Benson Medal, one of the highest literary awards in existence. Some of Ms Waddell’s work will be on display, marrying our rich cultural and botanical history.
Louise Anson, owner and great-granddaughter of Rev Martin, organised this event to raise awareness of the essential work done throughout Northern Ireland by RSPB.
“I am very keen for the community to visit Kilmacrew and enjoy the gardens as it is such an important part of our heritage,” said Ms Anson. “Looking after this beautiful heritage estate takes a lot of time and effort, so it was incredibly helpful that Greenmount Agricultural College came out and developed a gardening plan. In addition, RSPB’s volunteers helped me prepare the gardens for the open day. This is my way of thanking them for their efforts. The RSPB is a very worthy charity, I wanted to show my appreciation for all the work the volunteers have done.”
So, for a great day out with a bit of culture and afternoon tea in stunning surroundings, seeing rare and beautiful plants from around the world and doing your bit for nature conservation, come along to Kilmacrew House on 30 May.
Kilmacrew House can be found just off the A1 carriageway between Banbridge and Dromore. There is a £5 donation. This Open Garden will mark the beginning of the RSPB’s busy summer calendar of events. For more information about this and more, contact the RSPB on 02890491547.
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