Restoring the Victorian garden

Restoring the Victorian garden

Volunteers have planted 4000 bulbs at the start of replanting a newly-restored garden once considered among the finest in Ireland.

The 19th century Victorian Windsor Garden at Castle Ward, near Strangford in Co. Down, was originally designed as a formal terraced garden, featuring a sunken parterre with elaborate flower beds. The garden was painted in 1864 by local artist Mary Ward, showing a traditional high-maintenance arrangement of bedding in a kaleidoscope of colours and plants.

The garden’s current owners, the National Trust, are restoring the garden to the design depicted in the painting. Work on the £37,500 project began in September, starting with removing a pond and statue, added to the garden at a later date, and installing a pattern of 61 parterres, arranged geometrically with mathematical precision. Head gardener Andy Dainty and his volunteers laid 550m of edging and moved 120 tons of soil and compost to create the layout.

The bulbs were the first plants to go in to the newly-created design: an intricate design of colourful bedding will be planted next spring. As well as the parterres, rose beds will be returned to their original glory and work will begin on restoring the nearby man-made landscape of the Temple Water area.

This area of the garden dates back to the late 17th and early 18th century, and is one of the most important landscapes of the era to survive in Ireland.

Over the years the design had become obscured by self-seeded trees, poor drainage and other changes.

As part of the three-year restoration the crumbling stone sides of the Temple Water, weakened by tree roots over the years, will be rebuilt, and the Temple itself refurbished. The original paths will also be reinstated, creating a picturesque route around the Temple with far-reaching views of Audley’s Castle and Strangford Lough.