Many of the most famous gardens across Wales are run by the National Trust. With exotic plants, friendly animals, picnic spots and more, don’t miss these 10 horticultural highlights.
National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is the most visited garden in Wales and has more than 6,000 different plant varieties spread across 560 acres (227ha) of beautiful countryside. There’s an inspiring range of themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, the British Bird of Prey Centre, a tropical Butterfly House, play areas and a national nature reserve, all set in a Regency landscape. They run a packed programme of events and courses throughout the year.
Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire
A 15th century poet praised the ‘nine green gardens’ of Aberglasney, but this medieval gem had almost vanished until the gardens, and the mansion at their centre, were saved in the 1990s. They’ve been beautifully restored and planted into a dozen themed areas, which are offset by cloisters, pools, parapets, arches and the surrounding woodlands.
Dyffryn Fernant, Pembrokeshire
The superb location gives Dyffryn Fernant a head start, tucked away in the folds of north Pembrokeshire, with the coast on one side, and the Gwaun Valley and Preseli Hills on the other. It’s taken the best part of 25 years for this imaginative six-acre (2.5ha) garden to emerge from the wild landscape, but it’s described by The Times as ‘the best domestic garden in Wales’.
Hilton Court, Pembrokeshire
A series of tiered ponds, thick with waterlilies, are the centrepiece of Hilton Court, which lies in a wooded valley just inland from St Brides Bay. The warm microclimate helps to support a rich array of plant (and animal) life, while the solar dome is a tropical refuge for more exotic inhabitants.
Picton Castle and Gardens, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
Flanked by the Cleddau Estuary, the 40 acres (16ha) surrounding 13th century Picton Castle include ancient trees, mazes, ferns, wild flowers and rare species. Children are made especially welcome: a kids trail through the gardens stops off at an adventure playground, herb garden and pond. The Welsh Owl Garden is open all year round but from Easter there are daily flying displays, in both a dedicated glade in the woodland and on the lawn in front of the Castle.
Clyne Gardens, Swansea
Japanese gardens, lakes, wildflower meadows, bluebell woods, towers, chapels and gazebos are among the eye-catching features at this 19th century idyll. Clyne Gardens has a nationally important collection of rhododendrons, pieris and enkianthus, which produce a blaze of early summer colour. The gardens were created by the Vivian family of industrialists/barons.
Treborth Botanic Garden, Bangor
Conceived as a pleasure garden more than 160 years ago, Sir Joseph Paxton’s original design for Treborth was thwarted by funding problems, and the site only re-emerged during the 1960s when it was bought by Bangor University. Shaped by academic experts, Treborth Botanic Garden is now both a research institute for honing horticultural skills and a thoroughly pleasant place to visit. Its six glasshouses come in varying temperatures to support amazing plants from Wales and across the world. As a bonus, the Wales Coast Path runs through its woodland.
Dewstow Gardens, Monmouthshire
Dewstow Gardens are a remarkable tale of lost-and-found. The original Edwardian gardens were buried in the 1940s and returned to farmland, and only rediscovered in 2000. The excavations revealed ponds, rills, rock gardens, and an entire labyrinth of underground grottoes , tunnels and sunken ferneries – all painstakingly restored to their former glory.
Plas Brondanw, Eryri (Snowdonia)
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis is famous for creating the Italianate fantasy village of Portmeirion, but his real passion was closer to home. Plas Brondanw is the property he inherited more than a century ago. Its gardens are the legacy of a man who spent much of his life and every penny he had on them. These days their magnificent landscaping – part of a site built in the mid-16th century – offers yews, an orangery and splendid mountain views.
Wye Valley Sculpture Garden, Monmouthshire
The tranquil Wye Valley Sculpture Garden lies among the ancient wooded slopes of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s been managed organically for 40 years, and has abundant herbaceous borders, a pond, woodland areas, an orchard and meadows, all providing a rich habitat for wildlife. Sculptures by local artist Gemma Wood are placed harmoniously around the garden.