Mount Stewart lies on the sheltered Western shore of Strangford Lough, just south-east of Belfast. Surrounded by sea water warmed by the Gulf Stream and at nearly 55 degrees north, Mount Stewart enjoys a very favourable microclimate, especially for those plants from the Mediterranean climate zones of the world. The recently restored house and formal gardens are redolent with rich allegory and stories of Greek and Celtic mythology – all from the imagination of one extraordinary woman, Edith, Lady Londonderry. Laid out in the early 1920s on an ambitious scale, there are some 70 acres to explore.
The Silent Space
Mount Stewart is mostly a woodland garden. North-east of the house lies a drumlin called ‘Rhododendron Hill’ where Edith started planting in 1925. Today, there are towering mature plants magnificent to behold, flowering from January to the end of July. Amongst these mostly Himalayan giants, new plantings of fragrant Fortunea and Maddenia Subsection Rhododendrons can be found along with many new recently discovered large leaved species.
Rhododendron Hill itself is a slice of the Himalaya and beguilingly disorientating. It is hard to to believe you have not been transported to another time and place. Even on a busy day in summer, this cool, tranquil hill is virtually deserted. Apart from the movement of a breezes or the commotion of a busy red squirrel, the place is entirely peaceful.
Image © NT Mount Stewart
- Web link: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
For opening times please see the Garden's website.