Field Trip Reports 2011Field_Trip_Reports.html

Tuesday 7th June - Ballyrobert Cottage Garden and Nursery



Maurice Parkinson, former Director of Belfast Parks, and his wife Joy began creating this 6 acre garden  from what had been a traditional farm cottage and barn surrounded by rushy fields on heavy soil in 1993. It is now listed among the 100 best gardens of Ireland.

In spite of heavy rain, the aftermath of a thunderstorm, hardy BNFC members gathered at 7pm to be shown around the garden by Maurice Parkinson. Near the entrance is a fairy thorn and the entrance pillars are copies of the traditional Ballyearl area type, one has a flat top for the fairies to dance on, but more practically they have nest holes for blue tits and other birds.

Mixed woodland of native trees is planted in clumps to encourage wild life. Specimen trees, many of them Acers, form a backdrop to the large mixed beds of herbaceous perennials- species of Hostas resistant to slugs, Rodgersias, a lovely crimson Astrantia “Roma”, elegant Lupins, colourful Irises, exotic Alliums and the unusual RoscoeaAzaleas of many colours were still in bloom.

The apple trees in the orchard had been planted on raised mounds of rich compost to encourage growth.

The stream which eventually flows into the Six Mile Water has been dammed to create a lake, established mainly for wild life .

The formal gardens have beds edged with box hedges, one area in the shape of a Celtic Cross, and contain a wide variety of unusual plants.

It was too wet to investigate the nature trails through the old fields but many of us hope to visit again; apparently paths through the long grass and rushes are cut in spirals visible from planes coming in to land at Aldergrove. We dried out over tea and scones. Maurice and his son, Hugo, were thanked for a very pleasant excursion and some of us went home with purchases from the nursery of plants for our own gardens.


Margaret Marshall


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