Mount Stewart House & Gardens
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
10am- close (4-8pm depending on time of year)
Gardens only - adult c. £5, child c £2.50, Family c. £12, Groups c. £4
- Appointment Only
- Admission Charge
Inspired by Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, Mount Stewart is surely a contender for the most splendid garden in Ireland. The influential Londonderrys were part of the golden circle of their day and, when Edith came to Mount Stewart in 1919, she set about transforming what she saw as a dark and sad ancestral home into a sumptuous setting for entertaining guests like Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan.
Best time of year to visit:
Within the 80 acre 19th century garden with its lake and specimen trees, a series of intricately designed and brilliantly planted formal gardens were laid out around the house at a time when garden design had reached an exquisite peak.
Offering beautiful contrasts of mood, the gardens move from the geometric parterres of sizzling reds, yellows and oranges on one side of the Italian garden and silvers and mauves on the other, to the cool greens and curvaceous design of the Spanish garden with its circular pool overlooked by a pantiled loggia and screened by arches of clipped leylandii.
There are touches of pure whimsy in the Dodo Terrace, where stone carvings represent the animal characters given by Edith to members of her Ark Club such as: Winston the Warlock and Harold the Humming Bird. The silver and white planting in the circular Mairi Garden,named for Edith’s youngest daughter echoes the rhyme “Silver bells and cockle shells”, in this case with campanulas, agapanthus, stachys and Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’. Gertrude Jekyll contributed the design for the earliest garden in the series, known as the Sunken Garden, and planted it with a wonderful combination of blue, purple, yellow and orange.
A ‘Red Hand of Ulster’ in the Shamrock Garden side by side with an Irish harp is surrounded by yew hedges clipped into the shape of all manner of creatures from deer to devils. Beyond this area the garden merges into informality, towards the Lily Wood where tender trees and shrubs prosper in the micro climate of the Ards Peninsula. There are unforgettable displays to be see, not only of lilies but of colonies of Himalayan poppies. The paths winding around the lake offer a dreamlike view of the hill topped by Tir Na n’Og, the Londonderry’s private burial ground, which is planted with exotic shrubs some of them fruit of plant hunting expeditions subscribed to by Lady Edith.
Elsewhere in the 78 acres of grounds are the Coronation Walk, rhododendron glades with of the aristocracy of the rhododendron family R. sinograndeand falconeriand many others, and the Jubilee Walk planted in 1935 for George V’s Jubilee. Not to be missed is the Temple of the Winds, designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stewart in 1780; based on the Tower of Andronicus Cyrrestes in Athens, it looks out over Strangford Lough.
The garden merits a full day visit and the Londonderry ancestral home is also open to the public. The estate is now in the hands of the National Trust and the gardens are currently maintained by head gardener Phil Rollinson and his team.
Flowers all year
Groups & Tours
- Groups Accepted
- Groups Need Appointments
- Accept Only Groups
- Guided Tours
Guided tours of house only (not garden)
Open-air theatre. Wedding Fair and Harvest Food Fayre. Candle shop