Wales Fam 2011
Sept 8th - 13th, 2011

September 9th, 2011

Dinner last night was wonderful!! And so to sleep we went, truly happy and satisfied.

Some of us had rooms in the main house while others had rooms in Hall Cottages.I had the Bailiffs Cottage. The cottages offer a greater degree of privacy and some have their own private garden. They are the ideal place for couples and families travelling together or a romantic break, and a perfect base from which to discover the glorious countryside. The cottages have a bedroom, some with two or three bedrooms, bathroom, sitting room and a separate area for making tea or coffee. VERY POSH INDEED and I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to wake up the next morning and see all this incredibly green lush landscape surrounding us. The 17th Century Parterre garden was just below where I was with boxwood planted in 1885.. All the cottages have beautiful gardens enveloping them. A joy to get up early, walk and take photographs.

After breakfast we were meeting with the head gardener, Robert Owen, for a more personal tour. He has been the head gardener here for over 30 years. There are 3 full time, 1 part time and 2 volunteers that tend these beautiful pleasure gardens and food gardens. We spotted he Medlin, a precursor to the apple and a gorgeous Cornus controversa variegata standing proud and tall and so very different from all the other trees.

Fifteen minutes from our hotel was our first visit of the day - Bodnant Gardens. What a way to start a day.I had seen it before on my tours but that was a while ago and how things had changed. A brand new guest reception entrance greets you now. Long beds still full of perennials in bloom and the roses were incredible. I can still smell them. The vistas here are so grandiose with the hills and valley beyond completing this perfection. There are really two parts to this garden, the higher part being around the house and consisting of terraced lawns, trees and roses close to the house, where they can be enjoyed for their scent. The lower portion known as the Dell, is formed by the valley and contains not only the wild garden but a beautiful lily terrace, canal terrace and at the end of that the Pin Mill which looks out onto the canal terrace and is a lovely spot to sit and watch the birds and water lilies. There is a lot more here but this is all we had time for. Bodnant Garden was only the second garden
without a house given to the National Trust (Hidcote was the first). It was donated in 1949 by Henry McLaren, 2nd Baron Aberconway, and is still managed today by his descendants. The house is not open to the public.

Then a quick trip to Crug Farm Plants. We were hoping to have the owners present, but they were not so we didn't spend as much time there as we could have. In 2011 they won their first Chelsea Gold Medal as well as the RHS President's Award. They have a nice woodland garden stuffed to the brim with all kinds of shade loving plants, as it was nice that most of them were labeled and for those that are not you can always ask. From there you go to the walled garden again full of plants for sale and show.

Our next visit would totally take us all by surprise ... and what a wonderful surprise it was as it was the gardens of Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens on the Isle of Anglesey. Anthony Tavernor is obsessed with this place ... it is his mission in life to fulfill the destiny of this place and finish it he will.

Lucky still are those who get to stay here in one of the holiday cottages for they are in a little piece of Welsh heaven. We met one of the couples staying here. In fact we were in their cottage checking it out when they pulled up in their 26 year old Morgan. Many people stay here over and over again and I can see why. The cottages are beautiful and have a very long history. They offer so much, but mostly I think, comfortable, quiet, well thought out cottages that are in what I do think one of the most beautiful places on earth. One that is cared for and loved and tended to by a man who is so committed to making sure all who stay or visit are treated like the special people they are. The gardens are wonderful and lucky for Anthony, he found the perfect person to help bring his dream into a reality by hiring Dennis ... and much of the change has been a result of the fact, and Anthony will tell you this, that Dennis has his head into fine arts.

Stephen Lacey wrote a great article on Plas Cadnant which I read both before and after visiting and I urge you to do the same.  a tidbit follows, but read the whole thing ... it is so interesting.

'In the valley, below the crumbing, ivy-covered outbuildings - now smart holiday lets - was a two-acre plot, engulfed by seedling sycamore and ash but still delineated by the remnants of stone walls, ruined greenhouses and decrepit fruit trees, suggestive of a substantial orchard and kitchen garden. Beyond the house lawn, the overgrown paths and plantings indicated some sort of wooded pleasure ground down in the dip. 'You couldn't get there, right into the valley bottom,' he recalls. 'In fact, I knew there was a waterfall only because I could hear it.'

Tavernor, 59, was up for the challenge. A farmer, single and based in Staffordshire, he had just sold a parcel of land and was seeking a further venture. 'I was actually looking at farms in Northamptonshire, but then I saw Plas Cadnant advertised for sale, and I listened to my heart rather than my head. It seemed to combine all my outside interests - architecture, history and gardening - but while I had made gardens at home before, I had never tackled a restoration project.'

If you are in this area you must seek this secret garden out for it is a gem worthy of your time and discovery. They will be building a Tea Garden which will be open in 2013 and for groups coming now you will not only for a very small fee be given an introductory talk about the gardens but you may even get to have a slice of the most delicious walnut cake ever! Don't forget to look up close at something you will not see very often ... and only in this part of Wales - the slate fencing!

Thus was the ending of this day.we were staying at the Ty'n Rhos, Seion, Llanddeiniolen, near Caernarfon and is a Hotel of Distinction

After we checked in we all did various things like check email, relax, walk around or rest until dinner. The hotel is settled in the wide open lush plain between Snowdonia and the Isle of Anglesey and has a cozy solarium to just curl up in to relax or watch what is happening outside. The owners are Stephen and Hilary Murphy. Another great meal and it was off to bed to rise early for another sight filled day in Wales.


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