Wild Places to Visit – Northern Ireland – Greba Gardens

If enchanted fairy-tale gardens are your kind of thing then you, my dear friend, will fall head-over-heels, smitten-kitten in love with the stunning Greba Gardens. Located just outside Greyabbey on the Ards Peninsula, Greba Gardens is a 3-acre wonderland that will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into the pages of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden – absolute bliss!

We as a family recently visited on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning before the back-to-school routine resumed, having booked our private 1-hour slot online and were greeted by owner Beverley who made us feel so very welcome. Together with her husband Richard, they have been nurturing the gardens at their beautiful home for over two decades and now open the space up for visitors to enjoy too – what a treat! The atmosphere was very relaxed, with the snowy-white resident cat quickly becoming a hit with my youngest son and we were even allowed to bring our dog too (on lead of course!).

We were encouraged by Beverley to explore and were told how the gardens have over the years attracted so much wildlife – with red squirrels visiting regularly, as well as an otter, pine marten and newts all having been spotted on hidden cameras, and the garden is also home to a plethora of birds and insects. From the moment we arrived we could sense the gardens were humming with life and vibrancy and so off we went on our 1-hour adventure, feeling truly privileged to have this special place all to ourselves.

The landscape we wandered through is so varied and interesting, once a quarry, the garden has lots of exposed rocks with foliage and flowers growing wild and free in every direction. Mossy, stepping-stone decorated paths lead you through archways of flowers and trees, alongside drystone walls and into little hidden areas that have perfectly placed benches to pause a while and soak the place in. It’s definitely a sanctuary and taking a few moments along the way to sit down and savour it all is definitely worthwhile. I felt myself feeling calmer within minutes and could tell that my husband and children were feeling similar effects as they ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ and claimed how ‘amazing’ it was – they loved it so much that by the end they’d planned to hang their hammocks amongst the trees and move in for the summer! High praise indeed!

As I wound my way through this magical garden I could sense the hours of labour and love that have been devoted to its creation – you could easily drive by and not know that something so beautiful lies hidden beyond the roadside and yet once immersed among the flowers and trees it seems to stretch for miles. There’s so much to look at, ponds to study for fish and other aquatic creatures, intriguing walkways, a summerhouse to relax in, or in our case to dash inside to escape the sudden downpour of hailstones! Typical springtime in Northern Ireland!

The children enjoyed running off to explore alone and I came across my middle son perched along the curve of a tree branch, eyes closed, enjoying the freedom, peace n’ quiet and fresh air. I grabbed a quick snap of him for my own memories and left him to his secret garden snooze in the sunshine that was thankfully present for most of our visit.

I can only dream of what Greba Gardens is like throughout the seasons – a forever-changing palette of colour and beauty as well as a testimonial to the hard-working owners who maintain it and continue to develop their vision for this enchanted oasis that I could happily have spent the entire day wandering around daydreaming and feeling all my senses enlivened by the natural sounds, smells and spectacular displays in every direction. A magical and really wholesome experience for anyone who loves slowing down in nature that comes highly recommended by me and my family.

I personally adored and admired Greba Gardens not only for its most obvious aesthetically pleasing qualities, of which there are an abundance, but, for what I felt it represented… Generosity – both of the owners and of nature. Hope – because as any gardener knows, to sow and plant is to invest in the future. Letting nature in – while this beautiful space is cared for, it is not overly cultivated or manicured, wildlife is welcome and I imagine it is so rich in biodiversity, an important place in a world that is struggling so hard with the climate crisis and the extinction of species. Do go visit and support this brilliant garden so that it may continue to thrive – take some time out to enjoy the peace, stillness and chorus of nature at Greba Gardens.

Booking: visit the Greba Gardens Facebook Page to find out about opening times and to book your 1-hour private time-slot.

Cost: £3.50 per adult, supervised kids go free.

Note: some gorgeous plants are on sale too. We picked up some strawberry plants and a gooseberry bush which will be perfect additions to our wee allotment!

Thank-you Beverley and Richard for a wonderful experience, we can’t wait to come back soon.

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