At the end of a long, cold winter, there aren’t many symbols of the oncoming spring as satisfying as the first flowers tentatively coming into bloom. Not only are they a beautiful and tangible herald of new life, spring flowers signal the much anticipated return of the warmer weather. Folks, it’s time to start getting out and about again!
Although a province of rugged mountains and untamed coastline, North Wales is also home to an impressive collection of formal gardens, belonging to some of the most iconic stately homes in the country. These gorgeous gardens are all open to the public and have something special to offer the year round but we think spring is one of the best times to visit.
From pleasure garden to botanic garden, from herb garden to water garden, the gardens of North Wales make great viewing on a day trip. For us, however, it’s the ‘hidden gardens’ of Plas Cadnant that are top of our must-see list for 2016.
Plas Cadnant has undergone extensive development work over several years, but this was all swept away on Boxing Day 2015, when heavy rains eventually breached its 200-year-old retaining wall and floodwater poured through the gardens.
Not to be stopped, the estate have worked tirelessly throughout the winter months to restore the damaged parts of the gardens, and work is nearing completion. Visitors will enjoy not one but three unique gardens on a visit to Plas Cadnant: the walled garden with its unusual curved walls; the secret valley garden (worst hit by the floods); and the upper woodland garden where you might catch a glimpse of an elusive red squirrel.
The efforts of the team, who were understandably devastated by the destruction at Christmas, were rewarded with a 2016 Hidden Gem award from tourism organisation Visit Wales – a fitting tribute for a venue that will be more than welcome once its doors are open once again.
Remedial works are almost complete and Plas Cadnant will reopen to the public on Wednesday the 23rd of March, just in time for Easter.
Plas Brondanw’s gardens are widely considered to be one of the greatest achievements of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the creative landscaper who was given the estate in 1902 by his father.
Sir Clough is better known as the designer of Portmeirion, but he had already completed the main features at Plas Brondanw before work began on his famous Italianate village; landscaping the gardens continued for another half-century.
As well as developing the estate and its gardens, Sir Clough bought two neighbouring mountains, saving them from being mined, and the entire property is now owned by a charitable trust with the gardens open to the public.
Sir Clough’s influences can also be seen at Plas yn Rhiw, whose seasonal gardens offer something different throughout the year.
In springtime, daffodils are joined by tulips, azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and herbaceous plants, laying down a carpet of colour for the first time in the new year.
Easter weekend is an obvious time to visit for a family day out, with seasonal activities including an Easter egg hunt scheduled for Easter Saturday and Sunday.
The gardens at Plas Tan y Bwlch burst into life with azaleas and rhododendrons each springtime, and this coincides with the first opening days of the nearby Tea Room each year too.
Stroll through the Rhododendron Walk for a uniquely springtime experience, in gardens that have been kept deliberately informal, while protecting the habitats of the creatures that make their homes in the bushes and trees there.
Ever since the severe storms of 2013-14, restoration work has been ongoing at Plas Tan y Bwlch, meaning there is always something new to see, with vibrant planting that is both sympathetic to the history of the site, but also designed to please visitors throughout the remainder of the 21st century.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of some of our favourite North Wales gardens. Hopefully, the weather will hold so you can enjoy a visit to one or two of these special places too. Why not tell us about your favourite North Wales springtime garden? We’d love to hear about it!
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Spacious, clean, comfortable, warm bedroom. Lovely big comfortable clean bed. All staff pleasant & helpful. Lovely bathroom! No complaints at all!