Botanic Gardens is a 28 acre public park in the Queens Quarter of south Belfast. It was established in 1828 by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society, in response to public interest in horticulture and botany. Originally known as the Belfast Botanic Garden, the site contained exotic tree species and impressive plant collections from the southern hemisphere, many of which can still be seen in the park. Today, the park is popular with residents, students and visitors and is an important venue for concerts, festivals and other events. It’s home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine. The Ulster Museum is also located in Botanic Gardens. (See the post on the Ulster Museum here)
The Palm House
The gardens’ most notable feature is the Palm House conservatory. The foundation stone was laid by the Marquess of Donegall in 1839 and work was completed in 1840. It is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glasshouses in the world. Designed by Charles Lanyon and built by Richard Turner, Belfast’s Palm House predates the glasshouses at Kew and the Irish National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin, both of which Turner went on to build. The Palm House consists of two wings, the cool wing and the tropical wing. Lanyon altered his original plans to increase the height of the latter wing’s dome, allowing for much taller plants. In the past these have included an 11 metre tall globe spear lily. The lily, which is native to Australia, finally bloomed in March 2005 after a 23-year wait. The Palm House also features a 400-year-old Xanthorrhoea.
The Ulster Museum is a 25-30 minute walk from Belfast City Centre. Follow signs for Queen’s University or Botanic Gardens.
It is a 10 minute walk to the Ulster Museum from Botanic Station. Botanic Station is on the Bangor to Portadown rail line, just hop on at Great Victoria Street behind the Europa
There is a bus stop on the Stranmillis Road side of the Museum building. Bus lines ‘Metro 8A and 8D Malone Road’ depart from Donegall Square East in Belfast City Centre every 10 minutes.
Follow the one way system up the Dublin Road, keep right through Shaftsbury Square, and onto University Road, pass Queens University Belfast and keep left. Botanic Gardens are on the left just off Stranmillis Road. (Parking in the area is ‘on street’).