A trip to Treborth

Last year we had a great talk at one of our monthly meetings from Dr Shaun Russell, the Director of Treborth Botanic Gardens near Bangor. So, for our day out this year, we decided to pay the gardens a visit in return. And, just like his talk, it was wonderful.

The day was helped by the weather (which was stunning) and by the welcome (which was warm), but the gardens stand by themselves. They are possibly the only botanic gardens in the UK bordering the sea – the Menai Strait – where part, the ancient woodland, runs down to the shore. And the gardens were originally a Paxton design; Sir Joseph P. worked here in the nineteenth century, when the link across the Irish Sea from Anglesey meant the area had many visitors and tourists, and a grand hotel and garden was planned for this site. It came to naught but the bones are still there: a drainage tunnel, a waterfall, specimen trees, even the foundations of the hotel.

We were taken round three glasshouses, the temperate, tropical and orchid houses. And they were stunning. The way in:

and once you get inside…

there are fascinating plants everywhere you turn –

from Lithops to carnivorous plants,

taking in all sorts of wonders in between:

The glasshouses are only part of the story. Treborth is a serious academic institution, part of the University of Bangor, and with flourishing links to the biggest botanical garden in China, Xishuanbanna, as well as those in Lesotho (Katse) and Tierra del Fuego (Omara). All around there were specimens

(Enephalatos villosus’ mature female cone and Encephalalartos laevifolius’ young male cone, and yes, that’s what it says on the sign), and signs of the work being undertaken from moth traps (500 varieties recorded so far) to the rhizotron (for studying roots) in the gardens:

Treborth isn’t just noticeable for its plant life (2500 species of flowering plants, 120 mosses, 100 lichens). Over 400 varieties of fungi have been recorded, as have 26 mammals, 125 birds, 10 reptiles and amphibians, 29 butterflies and all those moths: most impressive.

All in all, we had a wonderful day which left a great impression. Hopefully Treborth will be successful with their fundraising efforts, which will make the gardens accessible for a lot more people. It’s a great place, doing some important work. Huge thanks to everyone at Treborth, and to Val for arranging our visit.

Here’s a selection of some more photographs from the day; just click on an image for a slideshow.



A day out

We have an annual trip, generally to a local garden of note. This year’s also involved a visit (and a delicious lunch) at a garden centre, Glyndwr Plants near Corwen. There was a definite run on the geraniums, and most of us left with at least something!

We then went on to an NGS garden, Aberclwyd Manor,

which opened exclusively for us. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite as cooperative, and there was intermittent light drizzle. One of the most interesting things about this garden was the use of texture and here is a gallery of images, many of which reflect that.

How many of us will be looking for interesting containers in which to grow sedums now?


A member’s garden on the Mawddach

It’s always a risk, when you decide you’re going to open your garden to the Club. Not the gardens – the gardens are always beautiful. But the weather… well, sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. But a good garden is a good garden whatever the weather throws at us – and, after all, we’re gardeners. Weather doesn’t worry us.

Our April garden visit was to a house with one of the most sensational views that we have yet seen:

even if, as you can see, the incoming rain was an interesting feature. Fortunately the house has rather a lovely verandah, so it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the garden whatever the circumstances. But it would have been a shame not to have explored when there are such delights as these to find when you wander into the garden a little:

There are beehives up here, too, incidentally. Bet the honey is delicious!

The present owners have been working on the garden since they moved into the house in 2001, the last really keen gardener having moved out a couple of years earlier. One of their major tasks was terracing the top middle lawns, making access for a tractor mower.

Working to improve the lawns was also important. In addition, some trees were removed and others planted, like these fruit trees:

with, in the background, the view along the Mawddach estuary towards the sea. And there were many other jobs as well, like consolidating a ruined outbuilding, improving access, creating a wood store, working to improve parking – and, of course, planting.

Here’s a small gallery of some of the other delights we found:

Thank you so much for the chance to visit such a lovely garden!

The last garden visit of the year

Two members were brave and opened their gardens after some of the worst ‘summer’ weather for several years. However, despite an inauspicious misty / foggy start to the day, it soon brightened up and became so sunny that everyone visiting the gardens clustered together in the shade after they’d had a look round.

garden one

The two gardens have some similarities, and some major differences. One – this one – is higher than the other and more exposed; the other – below – is much bigger (at about 3 acres, all told) and has extensive planting of trees as well as a stream in one of its three meadows.

Garden two

Meadows are something they both have in common; so are growing vegetables and fruit. Here are some pictures from that lovely sunny afternoon – who knows when there’ll be another like it?

The first garden:

and the second:

Let’s hope we get the good weather back (and preferably without the high winds as well).

Local gardens, June

It’s definitely the garden visiting season – at least, when it stops raining (and even when it doesn’t, for the truly intrepid). Every year some of out members open their own gardens to the Club so we can see what they’ve been up to / steal ideas / have a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake. This June we visited Guy and Margaret’s garden, normally open under the NGS (we have two NGS gardens in the village), and it was inspiring.

The trees and shrubs are wonderful,


especially this Cornus, which made people stop in their tracks. It is sensational.

But there were lovely things to see everywhere, from particular plants


to the greenhouse and polytunnel, which made those of us who are vegetable gardeners quite envious (let’s not mention the rest of the vegetable gardens… sigh…)


Those of us who share a rabbit problem were especially interested in the preventative measures on display. Peter Rabbit wouldn’t stand much of a chance.

Here’s a collection of photographs – to remind those who went of what can be achieved, to inspire those who didn’t, and to set us all off with ideas for our own gardens. Very many thanks indeed to Guy and Margaret: ten years opening for the NGS.



Plas Cadnant – 2016

Every year we try and organise a trip to an inspiring garden; generally we manage it but occasionally events conspire against us. This year everything went beautifully – even the weather improved – and we went to Plas Cadnant, the remarkable garden on Anglesey.


What is especially remarkable about Plas Cadnant this year is the amount of work that has needed to be done following horrendous and damaging floods in December. Looking at this gorgeous view, you can hardly believe the state the garden was in six months ago. It’s so sad: Anthony Taverner has been restoring it for 20 years, and so much of his work was undone in one night. But it’s back!

There are some fabulous plants,


and some gorgeous topiary (clipped buxus),

Clipped Buxus

and the insects were busy in the garden.


It was a lovely day; we had the garden to ourselves (it’s closed on Mondays) which was doubly great, and members have called it ‘wonderful’, ‘amazing’, ‘excellent’ and ‘a fantastic day out’. Huge thanks to everyone at Plas Cadnant, and to Guy and Tony for the photographs. Just click on an image in the gallery below for a slideshow.

(Click on this link and you’ll see the extent of the devastation – worth it, just to see what an amazing job the team at Plas Cadnant have done since December.)

Garden visiting – for the last time this year

It’s been a strange summer with storms worthy of September, far too much rain and everything running at about three weeks later than normal. But happily our last garden visit of the summer took place on a good day, and the strangely delayed season hadn’t diminished the sheer amount of lovely things to see in either of the gardens we visited. We are so grateful to members who open their gardens – and who also persuade their neighbours to join in!


These gardens were next door to each other, and they were both stunning. The sheer perfection of the lawns in the first one we went round stunned us all – the edging was so meticulous, and they set off the beds beautifully:

lawn perfection

But there was so much to see, we didn’t know quite where to start. Some of us gravitated towards the thriving vegetable patch, others admired the planting. We all asked lots of questions, often the same one – about the edging. How can it be so perfect, so crisp?

And then we moved next door. This garden is bordered by a stream which adds another element,


and here the vegetable patch was definitely a focus – particularly for those of us who enter our own vegetables in the Summer Show, that is. The owner regularly sweeps the board, and we wanted to see how he did it (sabotage was not involved, honestly). But the whole garden was gorgeous and there were some lovely ideas here too, like the hanging baskets on the gate:


Here’s a gallery from the two gardens; just click on an image for a slideshow.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and thank you so much to our hosts. You’ve given us so much to think about!