The best gardens in Wales…

Our May meeting saw the BBC broadcaster and writer Tony Russell take us on a whirlwind tour of some of his personal favourites among Welsh gardens. He is also a coordinator for the North Wales Festival of Gardens, started last year, and many of the ones he chose were, ressuringly, in the north.

Plas Brondanw, image courtesy of gardenvisit.com

But not all… One of his personal favourites is Dyffryn, now run by the National Trust, near Cardiff, which has superb summer borders.

Dyffryn Gardens, image courtesy The National Trust

and there are other gardens for all seasons, such as the Dingle, great for autumn colour,

The Dingle, again from gardenvisit.com

and Erddig, near Wrexham, which he thinks is at its best in winter ‘when you can really see the structure of the garden’, with its topiary and pleached limes.

And there are also gardens reflecting all periods and types of garden design, from Dyffryn’s grand-tour-inspired recreation of a Pompeiian garden to modern designs such as those at Veddw. Really, we are very lucky – and many members will have left the meeting with a whole new appreciation of the sheer variety of wonderful Welsh gardens. And with lots of prospective visits in mind!

 

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,

Cornus

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

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

wow

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…)

polytunnel

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.

Cadnant

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,

Lily

and some gorgeous topiary (clipped buxus),

Clipped Buxus

and the insects were busy in the garden.

bee

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!

rose

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,

stream

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:

baskets

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!

Garden visiting, April

Last Monday we had a treat – not only was the weather stunning (it seems to have gone backwards since then, and there are reports of snow further north), but we had two lovely gardens to visit, both belonging to members.

They were quite different, though they both had lovely views, with the sea glittering in the distance. First was an established garden, with mature trees, a woodland area and a stream:

Mary's

and then came a more recent garden, one a bit higher up and which had, only six years ago, been a building site but which now has some lovely planting, a vegetable garden and hens:

veg beds and lawn

The first garden gave us some serious ideas about the value of running water, and made some of us develop a case of gunnera envy. There were also some sweet species tulips, and a lot of the lovely black-leaved violets which some of us grow so successfully (click on an image for a slideshow),

In the second garden, almost everybody stopped immediately by the gate to admire a beautiful, beautiful pasque flower – quite the largest and healthiest some of us had seen for ages (some people missed it, possibly because they arrived by car; many of us walked through the woods between the two gardens instead). And there were other treats:

Plus, there was the extra treat of tea – and cakes!

Many thanks to our members who kindly opened their gardens to us, and allowed us to gain so much inspiration.