We’ve been visiting family in Northern Ireland for 20 years but never made it out to the Queen’s Quarter and Belfast’s Botanic Garden until now. It’s in the south of the city, just one train stop from the Centre. Get off at Botanic Station and it’s a 5 minute hop into the Garden.
MONDAY MORNING SUNSHINE
Monday morning turns out to be the best time to visit. We all know the reason Ireland is so green and our weekend visit has been pretty wet, but the clouds have parted and sun popped out just in time for a leisurely walk round the Botanic Gardens.
If you’re visiting, you’ll find Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Botanic Avenue, not far from Queen’s University. Established 200 years ago as a Private Park only open on Sundays, the 28 acre city garden is now run by Belfast City Council.
ALL THE PINK ROSES
The Rose Garden is first on our list and the route takes us along an open tree lined path edged by wide open grassed areas, perfect for a summer picnic.
The roses did not disappoint and we were right on time to see them at their best. My favourites by far are the “Joire de Vivre”, the most perfect blush pink “David Austin” style blooms.
THE HOT HOUSE
The Palm House is a little humid to spend too much time inside but the building is quite awesome. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Kew Gardens. I think Richard Turner was practising in Belfast before he went out to build the famous Kew Gardens Glass House some time later.
Our walk round the Queen’s Quarter took us right past the impressive Lanyon Building, home of Queen’s University, which boasts it’s own team of very busy gardeners keeping everything perfect.
IS IT EVEN A TRIP OUT IF YOU DON’T STOP FOR COFFEE?
Botanic Avenue is jam packed with trendy cafes and hipster coffee shops. A bit thin on students at this time of year, but no doubt a popular area during term time. We headed to Town Square for a much needed coffee stop. In Northern Ireland whatever you have with your coffee is described as a “bun”. Between us we sampled the carrot cake, raspberry scone with jam and cream, salted caramel brownie and peanut butter sponge. All delicious – as well as the latte, the cappucino, the americano and the iced nitro.
We just caught the lunchtime train arriving in Carrickfergus just in time for the heaviest downpour of our lives. But at least we glimpsed the roses in sunshine. And they were beautiful. Don’t you agree?
If you get to visit Belfast’s Botanic Garden, let me know. I’d love to know what you think?
That’s all for now.