Wales Fam 2011
Sept 8th - 13th, 2011

September 8th, 2011

We all arrived at the Manchester Airport and met our guide Donna who would be with us for the next week. Our luggage loaded into the coach, our able driver Hugh securely in his seat and off we were - a bunch of garden writers, thrilled to be here and excited to see what we had been reading about.

Our first stop was for lunch. That is one other thing we all had in common, our love of good food and we were to discover that Wales has incredibly good food too! After lunch we all wanted to sleep but that was not to be…we had much to do and places to go…our first visit was to Erddig Hall, described as the jewel in the crown of Welsh country houses. How fascinating to see such a place, a home from the early 18th century which reflected a gentry families 250 years of upstairs, downstairs life.

You can read the whole history of this wonderful home here…

but it was the gardens that we were enthralled with… We met with the Head Gardener, Glyn Smith to learn more about this glorious and peaceful place. The park was landscaped by William Eames between 1768 and 1789. This walled garden is one of the most important surviving 18th Century gardens in Britain and was planned around a canal. It features a Victorian parterre which we were to discover were really Laurel trees planted in the ground surrounded by Versailles planter boxes. Very smart idea, and a yew walk, as well as the National Collection of Ivy. The walled garden has many rare historical varieties of apples, pears, plums and apricots training along its walls, carefully labeled with names like Bon Chrétien d'Hiver (a pear of the late 15th Century) and Edelsborsdorfer (a 16th Century apple). Eames designed the unusual 'Cup and Saucer Waterfall' (1774), which can be found in the grounds. The 'cup' being a hole in the middle of a large disc - the 'saucer' - into which a flowing stream disappears creating an internal cylindrical waterfall. The stream emerges a few yards away under a bridge-like arch. Just look at the pruning of the trees and shrubs. One person has taken on the responsibility of this and takes great pride in it as noted. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the beautiful little plant center and the gift shop. Do not miss those two for sure!

After this we were off to meet Janie Smith, the great great niece of Beatrix Potter!

This was the garden that stories are made from…and it was a real treat to be standing in it…and hoping that a few bunnies would come out to greet us – but alas, they were off in the woods playing. This was Gwaenynog Hall in Denbigh, the setting for the Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies – and we could see not a one!

The creator of Peter Rabbit was Janie’s great-great-aunt and regularly visited during the 1890s. While there she was inspired to write and illustrate the children's classic.
"Beatrix Potter's mother and my great-grandmother were sisters and she came here to stay with her Uncle Fred. This is going back to the 1890s and she came some 13 times. While she was here she got the inspiration to write the Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and illustrate the book."

The garden at Gwaenynog Hall has been open to the public for around 15 years but they are trying to return the garden to what it probably looked like during the author's visits. Janie’s youngest daughter, Frances, has taken the reins now and with help are on their way.

For our visit, even though it was September, we could see what this garden must look like during June when in peak flower. Now we had lots of apples to munch on while we walked and talked. Mr McGregors potting shed was there with some old watering cans hanging from the rafters and apples drying in bins. It was pretty neat to be standing here and being a part of history and such a good story, even for just a moment. Beatrix Potter passed away in 1943 but at least her bunnies can still be seen – or not!

as we were passing through the town of Denbigh it was noted that there is a pharmacy here that has been in existence for over 200 years, now called Cowans, as well as close to 200 buildings that are historic and St. Margarets Marble Church (Bodelwyddan) has Canadians buried there from the First World War. It was sad to hear that they survived the war only to die of flu waiting at Denbigh Castle to go home. More on this here…,_Bodelwyddan

Ok, now it was time to head to our hotel…we were ready for Bodysgallen Hall and of course – dinner! Bodysgallen is located in Llandudno and is a Hotel of Distinction.
Standing in over 200 acres of its own parkland to the south of Llandudno with spectacular views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle. Believed to have 13th century origins, Bodysgallen Hall provides all that is best in country house hospitality, in fact, it is the highest rated country house hotel in Wales. Beautiful gardens include a rare 17th century parterre of box hedges filled with sweet-scented herbs, a rockery with a cascade, a walled rose garden, and several follies.

Historic House Hotels Limited has skillfully and sympathetically restored the 17th century house. The hotel has two restaurants, with imaginative food, which has been awarded three rosettes by the AA for fine-dining in the Main Hall, and is prepared from fresh local produce and complemented by fine wine. A Bistro called 1620, named after the oldest build-date of the Main Hall. In September 2008 this company donated all its interests in BODYSGALLEN HALL and the other two HISTORIC HOUSE HOTELS to the NATIONAL TRUST, with all profits benefiting the houses and the charity.

Bodysgallen's Spa, reached by a short walk through the gardens, was converted from an original stone-built farmhouse. It contains a magnificent 50-foot swimming pool, five treatment rooms, a relaxation room, whirlpool spa bath, steam room and sauna. The gymnasium has a wide range of equipment for all levels of fitness.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row