Adam is first 'King' of Castle's Walled Garden

Shauna Loughran


Shauna Loughran

BALLYMENA man Adam Ferguson has proved the grass really is greener as he takes charge of the new Walled Garden, set to open at Hillsborough Castle in Spring 2019.

Historic Royal Palaces has appointed Adam Ferguson as the first ‘Walled Garden Keeper’ at Hillsborough Castle in centuries

Ferguson, aged 22, is already an award-winning gardener, who won a Gold medal at the World Skills competition last year.

A talented gardener who began selling plants at the tender age of 8, Ferguson is now set to take on his biggest challenge yet: the creation of a new Walled Garden at Hillsborough Castle, inspired by a Georgian Kitchen Garden which once fed the building’s residents.

Ferguson and his team have already got to work on the new five acre garden, which will occupy the same spot as its Georgian predecessor.

Speaking to the Guardian, Adam said: “Gardening has been a lifelong passion of mine. At the age of eight I started to grow plants and sold them to friends and family.

“I went to school at Ballymena Academy, before progressing on to Greenmount College were I studied Horticulture for four years.

“I then began working in the grounds of Hillsborough Castle before my appointment as Keeper of the Walled Garden.

“Taking on this unique role fills me with an enormous amount of pride and I’m excited by the challenges that lie ahead.

“Set to open in April 2019, the Walled Garden takes inspiration from the historic Georgian Kitchen Garden at Hillsborough Castle which once produced fruit and vegetables to feed the building's residents and famous guests.

“The new Walled Garden will be the first part of the gardens and estate that you will see from the Lower Courtyard entrance. We want to create a wow moment that will captivate visitors when they arrive.”

Set within 100 acres of majestic grounds at Hillsborough Castle, the Walled Garden could have a few famous residents who may have eaten produce from the garden include US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who visited the castle to meet its founder Wills Hill, the first Marquess of Downshire, who was Secretary of the American Colonies during the 1770s.

Historic Royal Palaces will be turning back the clock to return the garden to its original 1770 layout - four quadrants with a central ‘dipping pool’.

Working with Catherine Fitzgerald of Mark Lutyens Associates, and landscape architects The Paul Hogarth Company, the new Walled Garden is already taking shape. The creation of the Walled Garden is possible thanks to the generous support of Mark Pigott KBE, who made a major leadership grant to the project in 2014.

To date, £20m has been raised over a five-year campaign for capital projects and associated activities at Hillsborough Castle, including a £4.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and significant support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Clore Duffield Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and other generous benefactors.

This investment will help to realise Historic Royal Palaces’ ambition to open the Castle and gardens to the widest possible audience and re-present the heritage so that everyone can explore this historic site.

Hillsborough Castle will still be open for the summer season from July 1, 2018 offering daily tours of the Castle and visits to the formal gardens.

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