North Wales, June 2008

6 June
Visited the Garden House, Wrexham, on the way to our hotel, the Great Western, Llandudno. The Garden House is made up of 5 acres of garden rooms, comprising a Monet-style lily pond with sympathetic bridge, herbaceous garden, rose pergolas and a hedged and grassed area with several stunning sculptures, particularly life-sized racing horses. A large greenhouse full of scented sweet peas, adjacent to the tea-room completed the picture.

sweet peas

7 June
Visited Crg Farm Plants where Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones have changed a farm into a plantsman’s garden. Many of their rare, mature plants and trees, collected on their various expeditions to China, Nepal, Vietnam, Taiwan, etc., are displayed in natural surroundings. Bleddyn gave an informative talk and tour of the gardens before we were able to purchase plants from the nursery. A plantsman’s heaven!

Plas Newydd, Anglesey, a National Trust mansion and estate set amongst the rolling Welsh hills was our next visit. There are many large and mature trees and an Australasian arboretum with lawns down to the Menai Straits, as well as a fern grotto and terraced gardens and woodland walks along the Straits.

8 June
Bodnant Gardens near Conwy. This is justifiably called the finest garden in Wales. There is a big laburnum arch, which is probably at its best end of May.

Several terraced areas have lawns and are planted with scented roses, and there are also ponds and hillsides full of cornus, azaleas, rhododendrons and pieris. Many Bodnant strains of plants are sold in nurseries and garden centres, for example Cercis ‘Bodnant Strain’ and Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’.
A walk down the steep embankment is well worth the effort as you pass streams and woodland glades, where rabbits gorge on lush grass and ignore visitors. The stream bank is scattered with masses of primula of various colours. At the bottom of the valley, by an old mill, there are places to sit and watch the wildlife, listen to the birds and enjoy the vistas.
At the entrance to Bodnant are various shops and a nursery. If you are in North Wales this is well worth a visit whatever time of year.

In the afternoon we went on the Ffestiniog Railway through slate pits festooned with foxgloves and ferns to Portmadoc, a small seaside town – different, but enjoyable nonetheless.engine

9 June
Regrettably left our hotel on the seafront at Llandudno to return home, visiting Powis Castle on the way. This is a striking building adorning a hilltop, built of an unusual rust-coloured stone. There are various walks amongst the tiered gardens, with roses and abutilon planted against the walls and herbaceous planting underneath. On one of the terraces we were fortunate enough to be entertained by a male skylark singing melodiously for several minutes.
powis terrace
On the lower levels there are fruit trees and vegetable plots around the manicured lawns. There is also a small woodland walk on the outskirts of the estate and a large, natural pond. Again, we enjoyed various vistas of the beautiful Welsh countryside. Powis is well worth a visit.lower gardens

                    Text: Maureen Winkfield
                    Photos: Pat Leggett