Botanic Gardens is home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine.
The Palm House contains a range of tropical plants, hanging baskets, seasonal displays and birds of paradise, and is one of the earliest examples of a glasshouse made from curved iron and glass. It shows how advances in glasshouse technology allowed horticulturists to grow exotic plant species during the Victorian period.
The building was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who also helped design parts of nearby Queen's University. The foundation stone was laid in 1839 and the two wings were completed in 1840 by leading ironmaster, Richard Turner. The dome was added in 1852.
The Tropical Ravine contains some of the oldest seed plants around today, as well as banana, cinnamon, bromeliad and orchid plants. It was built in 1889 by the park's head gardener, Charles McKimm, and his staff.
Like the Palm House, it shows how technology allowed gardeners to cultivate unusual species in a greenhouse environment. Features of interest include a plant-filled sunken glen, flowering vines, tree ferns and leaf silhouettes.
Botanic Gardens 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.
Unfortunately for the Society, the gardens proved expensive to run and many shareholders felt that the park's horticulture was compromised by financial issues. The site was eventually sold to the Belfast Corporation (now the Belfast City Council) and it re-opened as a public park, known as Botanic Gardens, in 1895.
Today, the park is popular with residents, students and tourists and is an important venue for concerts, festivals and other events.
Restoration of the Tropical Ravine
We're restoring the Tropical Ravine. The ravine has become old and inefficient. But it’s set to be restored back to its former glory, with a modern 21st century twist that will see it become one of Belfast’s popular tourist attractions.
The Tropical Ravine closed on Monday 17 November 2014 for the restoration work to begin on the building.
The park will remain open, but the ravine and some paths will close during construction, which is due to start in later this year and hopefully reopen in 2016 following the restoration. Look out for signage within the park for path closures.
Before the work starts on the Tropical Ravine, many of the plants will be moved into the Palm House or rehomed to other ferneries. The large specimens that we can’t shift will be covered and protected from reconstruction work and the cold. Some of the plants are very valuable - the tree ferns are estimated to be over 150 years old.
Find out more about the restoration project