Botanical Gardens in Belfast Tropical Ravine

The Tropical Ravine is located in Botanic Gardens and contains some of the oldest seed plants around today, as well as banana, cinnamon, bromeliad and orchid plants. The construction of the Tropical Ravine house was undertaken by the then curator of the gardens Charles McKimm and completed in 1889.

It is the only one of its size in Europe. Divided into a temperate and a stove section, the interior is designed as a sunken ravine with a railed balcony extended around the perimeter from which the visitor can view the plant collection.

Here lush plants and trees compete for light and moisture in a veritable jungle. The ferns and mosses reside down below while the stronger bigger plants, including banana trees, reach the roof. TheDombeya is the real show stopper in this jungle with it’s heavenly caramel scent. It responds well to pruning (every two years) and flowers annually around February, forming a cluster of over a hundred individual blooms. The artist, Diana Oxlade, recreated the Dombeya as well as many other beautiful plants in the celebratory ‘Florilegium of Belfast Botanic Gardens’, published specially for the millennium.

The importance of the Ravine House is exemplified by the statement from Burnbridge of Trinity College Botanic Garden, who noted that it was one of the finest and best arranged fern houses in Europe.Features of interest include a plant-filled sunken glen, flowering vines, tree frens and leaf silhouettes.

Other features

The gardens also contain another glasshouse, the Tropical Ravine House. Built by head gardener Charles McKimm in 1889, it features a unique design. A sunken ravine runs the length of the building, with a balcony at each side for viewing. The most popular attraction is the Dombeya, which flowers every February.

Opening hours of Belfast Botanical Gardens

They are open at the following times. Please note that the Tropical Ravine is closed on Christmas Day only.

Opening hours for Tropical Ravine

Month Opening hours

April to September Daily – 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 4.45pm

Last admission is at 4.30pm

October to March Daily – 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3.45pm

Last admission is at 3.40pm

The Palm House and the Tropical Ravine House were symbols of Belfast’s growing industrial might and prosperity in the Victorian era and attracted over 10,000 visitors a day. The gardens also feature one of the longest herbaceous borders in the UK and Ireland. The is also a rose garden built in 1932 and various species of tree, including the hornbeam-oak. A statue of Lord Kelvin stands at the Stranmillis Road entrance.

Directions to Botanical Gardens in Belfast

Entrance to the park is via Botanic Avenue, Stranmillis Embankment and University Road. Take any Metro no. 8 and get off at Queen’s University. You can also take Metro no.7 and get off at College Park. If you are walking to the park from Belfast City Hall, go along Bedford Street, Dublin Road and University Road and follow the signposts.


Did you know that we have a number of friends’ groups who help us maintain and promote our parks and open spaces?

These voluntary groups of local people dedicate some of their time, energy and effort to caring for and improving their local area. Anyone can join a friends’ group and is welcome to give as much or as little of their time as they want.

The friends’ groups often get involved in activities such as organising local events in parks, litter picking, fundraising and helping us shape the future development of our parks.


The Friends of Botanic Gardens group meets on the first Thursday of each month and always welcomes new members.. To celebrate National Tree Week 2011, we have worked with the group to create the Friends of Botanic Gardens Tree Trail. The trail promotes 20 rare and colourful trees from all corners of the world, ranging from the majestic dawn redwood from China to the Irish yew found in Fermanagh in the 1780s.

The scenic landscape of Botanic Gardens has proven popular with residents, students and tourists alike over the years, and the tree trail is a great opportunity to discover the many different and interesting trees which grow within Belfast. Many were planted in the 19th century when the gardens first opened.

To follow the tree trail, simply pick up a Botanic Gardens leaflet within the park and start the trail at the Malone Road gate, beside the statue of Lord Kelvin.


The ‘Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society’ issued 500 shares at a price of seven guineas each to help finance the project. Members of the public were required to pay for admission; one shilling for adults, sixpence for children. Shareholders and subscribers who paid an annual subscription were either admitted free or at a reduced charge.

Although the original intention was to provide a pleasant and well laid out garden primarily for instruction and study of plants, it soon became evident that more popular support was required to raise the finances necessary for the running of the property. From June 1838, when two successful garden fetes were organised for fund raising, right through the nineteenth century, the Botanic Gardens became the venue for all manner of outdoor activities and entertainment. This tradition has been continued to the present day.

The present Botanic Gardens contain an attractive rose garden, colourful herbaceous and shrub borders, a bowling green and children’s playground. The property is also often used for a variety of events, including band performances, circus visits and concerts. Approximately 600,000 visitors come to discover the distinctive beauty of the Botanic Gardens each year.