The site occupied by the Castle and Gardens was wild mountain moorland. In 1869 the first part of the Castle was constructed. However it was not until the mid 1880's that the Gardens were started. The two major elements of the Garden, the Pleasure Gardens and the Walled Garden were constructed in the late 1880's. The original Victorian Garden layout remains intact. It was for Mrs. Cornelia Adair that the gardens were constructed. Mrs. Adair employed a Kew trained gardener to lay out the gardens. Some of the planting in the Pleasure Grounds such as the purple maples and the Scots pine trees were planted at this time.
In 1929 Lucy and Arthur Kingsley-Porter became the new owners. They were also keen gardeners and Mrs Porter brought the dahlia known as Matt Armour to Glenveagh.
The last private owner, Henry P McIlhenny began to develop the gardens in the late 1940's with the assistance of Jim Russell of Sunningdale Nurseries and Lanning Roper, the well-known garden consultant. From the late 1950's through to the early 1980's the design and layout of the garden was developed to include the Gothic Orangery, the Italian Terrace, the Tuscan Garden and the development of the plant collection.
Glenveagh is well known today for its rich collection of trees and shrubs specialising in southern hemisphere species and a diverse Rhododendron collection. Displays of Rhododendrons are at their best from late March to the end of May.
Displays of colour in the Walled Garden are at their best through the summer months.
Access to the Gardens is from dawn to dusk all year round. Admission to the Park, including the Gardens is free.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are always happy to answer any questions that visitors have for us regarding the gardens. We have selected here the questions we are asked most often, along with the answers:
Q How many gardeners are there?
A We have 7 full-time staff in the gardens all year round, and this increases to 10 during the summer months.
Q What do you do in the winter?
A There is always work for us to do in the gardens. In the winter all of the pruning and heavy work are done in preparation for the spring.
Q What happens to all of the food crops?
A Everything in the walled garden is for conservation and display purposes.
Q Is this an organic garden?
Q How do you control pests such as snails and slugs?
A We don't have many snails here, and because we have so much growing in the garden, the damage caused by slugs is minimal.
Q What are the cocoa shells used for?
A They form mulch, which keeps the weeds down.
Q Do you sell plants here?
A Not at present.
Q Who lives in the cottage facing onto the Walled Garden?
A Known as the gardener's cottage, that is exactly what it is! The cottage is occupied by the current head gardener.
Q What do you do with the money collected in the wishing well?
A Every year we choose a local charity to donate this money to.
Q How do you cope with the midges? Do you become immune to them?
A We don't become immune to them. When they are bad, we use midge-hoods and a limited amount of insect repellent.
We are also asked many questions about the names of plants and where they come from, and about the care of certain plants, which we are always happy to offer advice on.