About the garden
Seaforde Gardens are situated in the historic Demesne of Seaforde in County Down, which has been a family home for almost 400 years. The principal gardens, which are open to visitors, are to be found within and adjacent to the old walled garden, whose structure dates from the early half of the 18th century. The hidden, micro-climate gardens boast Ireland’s oldest living maze (hornbeam) and support a truly illustrious collection of plants, many semi-tender, a number of which have been carefully collected and curated from distant corners, including China, Vietnam, India and Australasia thanks to the travels of keen plantsman Patrick Forde.
The gardens also include an arboretum containing champion trees and rare species. Seaforde holds the UK National Plant Collection of Eucryphias with more than 20 glorious species and cultivars grown here. Boasting specimens of Eucryphia x nymansensis, E. cordifolia and E. x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’; these white or pink flowering southern-hemisphere trees look at their most spectacular in late summer and autumn.
Seaforde is famously home to some of the very first Sequoiadendron giganteum to be grown in Ireland during the 1850s and 1860s. Planted under the direction of the Rt Hon. Colonel WIlliam Forde MP, these stately giants are some of the most impressive trees to be found in the garden known as the Pheasantry. One champion tree in the Pheasantry is the formidable, vertically branched, Crimean pine, which stands over 100 feet in height. Family tradition has it that Colonel Forde’s brother, Thomas Douglass Forde (who fought in the Crimean War with the Heavy Brigade), brought back a souvenir tree as a seed cone from the campaign, which was then lovingly planted, nurtured and has grown into today’s champion.