We depart from your pick-up point and travel north to the magnificent Dyffryn Botanic Gardens, a Grade 1 listed Edwardian garden designed by landscape architect Thomas Mawson displaying a series of garden ‘rooms’ enclosed within clipped Yew hedges. There is something to see year round at Dyffryn – a Roman garden; Japanese garden; fountains and pools and an arboretum containing trees from all around the world including the original Acer Griseum collected by ‘Chinese Wilson’. Dyffryn is one of the best 100 gardens in the UK as selected by the British Tourism Association.
We continue to Swansea for our visit to Singleton Park Botanic Garden, located within the old walled garden which was once part of the estate of Lord Swansea. The gardens contain many fine specimens of rare and exotic plants. A wonderful feature on entering from the north is the herbaceous border, which was originally planted in 1921. The stunning plant collections and creative bedding schemes are truly breath-taking.
Following this we transfer to the Beggars Reach Hotel, where dinner will be served.
This morning following breakfast we will visit Picton Castle. The gardens comprise 40 acres of some of the most beautiful woodland gardens in West Wales. Discover woodland walks, a maze and rhododendrons. The Walled Garden has an elegant fountain, rose strewn arches and a door that leads to the fernery, a tranquil and fascinating habitat for less hardy fern species. We have also arranged to visit the house, for many years the home of the Philipps family and, since 1986 restored and open to the public. Over the years it has received many illustrious guests including HRH Queen Elizabeth II, who visited in 1969.
In the afternoon we visit the gardens of Upton Castle, which consist of 35 acres of listed historic gardens, surrounded by ancient woodlands containing a number of trees listed as veterans. Within the gardens there are spectacular herbaceous borders, a delightful formal rose garden and a fascinating, traditional 19th century walled garden, now being restored to its former use as a kitchen garden. Rare trees and shrubs abound throughout the gardens and include a stunning collection of rhododendrons, tree Magnolias and Camellias whilst the arboretum lists amongst its many unusual specimens a large handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, Drymis winteri, Cunninghamia and the fern leafed beech Fagus heterophylla.
Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
After breakfast we depart for Dyffryn Fernant Garden, a plantsman’s garden, created from scratch by our hosts Christina Shand and David Allum. They have made a number of ‘rooms’ including an azalea bank, a bog garden and a fernery and camellia walk. These rooms are punctuated by attractive sculptures plus mouthwatering displays of herbaceous shrubs.
We cross briefly into Ceridigion (Cardiganshire) for our afternoon visit to the gardens of Cae Hir, which since it first opened to the public in 1989 has become one of Wales' best loved gardens. Owned, managed and maintained by two generations of the Akkermans family who first moved over from Holland in 1983, the garden is a love affair between nature and nurture. Cae Hir has become synonymous with blending the wild and the cultivated, of using ordinary materials in extraordinary ways and of thinking 'outside the box' in its approach to garden design.
Following breakfast we will travel to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, in the exquisite location of a 568 acre estate in the heart of Carmarthenshire. Among the innovative and informative features here are the Great Greenhouses (the largest single span glasshouse in the world – focusing on temperature species, many of them endangered); the oval walled garden; the water discovery centre and the herbaceous boardwalk.
We continue to Aberglasney, set in the beautiful Towy valley. This is a superb 16th/17th century garden, which was rediscovered after 50 years of neglect and has been restored to produce a garden with immense appeal by a young and energetic team of gardeners. Set within nine acres are six different spaces with a rich and diverse collection of plants, including three walled gardens and the unique Elizabethan/Jacobean cloister; a walled garden of concentric herbaceous beds and a parapet walk.
We return to our hotel in time for dinner.
This morning after breakfast we will check out of our hotel. Our final visit is to Laugharne, the birthplace of Dylan Thomas and the community which provided many of the characters featured in his poetic works. You will have free time to visit either the castle or Thomas’s studio (entrances not included). We will re-group at mid-day at The Cors, a private garden set in approximately two and a half acres, of a beautiful wooded valley. There is a large bog garden with ponds, Gunnera, bamboos and tree ferns, as well as an exceptional, elegant plantsman’s garden boasting unusual architecture and exotic planting. An introductory talk and a buffet lunch are included here.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up point.