Monday, 7 September 2009

Wonderful Welsh gardens - Aberglasney - recently saved from ruin


Aberglasney, known as "a garden lost in time"
It's raining again and I'm in Wales - well known for its verdant landscapes because of the high rainfall levels!  First stop was Aberglasney, near Carmarthen - known as "A Garden Lost in Time" - thanks to its inclusion in the popular TV series of the same name. Its origins are "shrouded in obscurity" according to the brochure, although there are records dating back to the 15th century on both house and grounds. But just wait until you see the gardens today and history pales into insignificance!
The large upper walled garden at Aberglasney, designed by Penelope Hobhouse
What matters today is that Aberglasney was saved from complete ruin in the 1990's by a group of historic house enthusiasts and an American benefactor, and they have worked tirelessly to turn the property into what it is now. The result is an absolute "must see" property with a series of unique and stunning gardens set against the backdrop of an uninhabited, but attractive house.
The cloister garden at Aberglasney, opened in 2001 after years of careful restoration
There's a cloister garden, upper and lower walled gardens, alpinum, sunken garden... and, perhaps most impressive of all... the Ninfarium - named after the original Ninfa garden near Rome. Here at Aberglasney the Ninfarium is part of the house - an enclosed garden. The large upper walled garden was designed by well-known historian and garden designer, Penelope Hobhouse. This leads into the lower garden which is used for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers for cutting. It's the cloister garden that seems to draw most gasps from visitors - this was opened in 2001 after a long restoration process and is based on a design found in a painting. Part of its beauty is its symmetry and simplicity, but equally important is its setting below the main house. Enjoy it from above, by walking along the walls.
Aberglasney is set in the heart of glorious Welsh countryside
The most recent addition to the landscape at Aberglasney is the sunken garden, with its central water sculpture by William Pye. I was amused to see the reference to Monty Python in the brochure: "And now for something completely different - a garden that is more appealing to the senses, rather than the intellect".
The sunken water garden at Aberglasney, with sculpture by William Pye
This is a wonderful garden and a great tribute to those who have restored it - there has been plenty about Aberglasney in the press over the years, with comments about where it's going - but the result is impressive. If you're in Wales, don't miss it and make sure you buy a copy of the marvellous book - "The Flowering of Aberglasney" - written by plantsman Graham Rankin - it features some of the best botanical photographs I've seen and is a worthwhile memory of a spectacular garden.
The sun came out just as I was leaving and I shall always remember the glimpse of the lower walled garden (above) from the restaurant - there is nothing so stunning as a garden glinting in the sunshine after a heavy shower!

17 comments:

  1. wow beautiful. i am excited about the other three.

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  2. Oh Charlotte, another beauty. I am happy that there are people who restore the gardens and homes that were once glorious. (I love Monty Python)

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  3. What a beautiful, beautiful garden! Thank you for the tour! The plant on the second picture is Aristolochia gigantea (Howardia gigantea), a very interesting climber. I saw it in August during our trip to Kauai, Hawaii.

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  4. I love the cloister garden. It is just like a piece of patchwork. If I were to go to Wales I would love to see this garden you have made it sound so interesting! Val

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  5. Just beautiful. I am so glad that someone cared enough to not let this beautiful hose and gardens go to ruin.What a loss it would have been.

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  6. Found your blog from someone who wanted to put my blog on a list of garden bloggers! Just perfect for me because whenever I go back to England I pack in as many gardens as I can. Now I have a great source of gardens. Thank you.

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  7. Really enjoyed this post. I do have some distant memory of the garden being on TV - some years ago.

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  8. Thank goodness somebody saved this garden and brought it back to life. Stunning!

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  9. It would have been a sacrilege if this garden has been forever lost to time. Thank God that there are people out there who took the initiative to do something about the destruction of this magnificant garden.
    Deborah

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  10. I like the manicured lawns, trees and bushes. Same goes for the water feature and stones.

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  11. Your post tantalizes, as usual. Who wouldn't want to visit this garden after reading your description.

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  12. A wonderful post. I love the simplicity of the cloister garden - how I would love to do something that striking! The creeper has been correctly ID'ed by Tatyana. The colloquial name (here anyway) is Dutchman's Pipe. I can't grow it myself, but 10km away and 500m lower down the mountain, my aunt grows it very successfully in a subtropical climate.

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  13. An interesting post of a lovely formal garden

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  14. Oh my word, this is an amazing place! Truly lush and green and inviting. You visit the most amazing places that I will probably never get to see except through your eyes. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Your beautiful photos and words inspire an urge to visit, and thanks be to those that had the good sense and imagination to save this treasure. Lovely to see and learn about it! Thank you!

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  16. Your photos are gorgeous; I love the formal layouts in some of the photos - which is saying something, because I often think formal layouts are stiff and the hedges look ratty. Sounds like a definite stop on my next (first) visit to Wales, perhaps in a decade or two . . .

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  17. Hi Charlotte, such a wonderful magical treasure! I am glad you gave this a whole post to itself. We can't get enough of it! Glad for an ID on the plant too, magnificent! :-)
    Frances

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