Just below Queen’s University are the popular Botanic Gardens, first opened in 1827 and well protected by trees from the noise of the surrounding traffic. Within the gardens is the Palm House, a hothouse predating the famous one at Kew Gardens in London, but very similar in style, with a white-painted framework of curvilinear ironwork and glass. It was the first of its kind in the world, another success for Lanyon, who worked in tandem on this project with the Dublin iron-founder Richard Turner. The nearby Tropical Ravine is a classic example of Victorian light entertainment – a hundred-year-old sunken glen chock-full of “vegetable wonders” extracted from far-flung jungles and replanted for the delight of the visiting Belfast public.

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