We now need to stay off the M4 and make our way towards the A 48 that will take us towards the Vale of Glamorgan and the magnificent grounds of Dyffryn House the former home of the wealthy industrialists, the Cory Family. Dyffryn House can be found near the village of St. Nicholas. The House and the Gardens are Grade I listed and are undergoing major restoration. They grounds were designed by Thomas Mason in 1904 but it is agreed that Reginald Cory a son of the owner John Cory also took a keen interest in their development. The grounds contain many first introductions of trees from the plant hunting trips of Ernest Wilson and one of the earliest introductions of Acer Griseum the paperbark maple. There are extensive garden rooms and a range of greenhouses. Dyffryn is one of the finest examples of an Edwardian garden in the country.
But we must tear ourselves away and resume our journey west. If we follow the A48 west we can enjoy a pleasant drive through the Vale of Glamorgan before rejoining the motorway at Bridgend. J 36
This short journey will takes towards the massive Margam Steel Works at Port Talbot. This is also the area where the actors Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen hail from. We leave the motorway at J 38 and rive right into Margam Park which is built in the grounds of the former Margam Abbey and there are still ruins of the Abbey to be seen around the gardens. The Park and the Gardens date from the 19th century and the walled Kitchen garden is undergoing a restoration and the restored Citrus House is now open. But pride of place has to go the majestic Orangery that has world listed status. It is the largest and finest in Europe. The House and Gardens have been used as a backdrop in many television and films.
Back on to the motorway and after short drive to J 47 where we have the chance to visit one of Wales’ most exciting garden restoration projects. I am talking about Penllegare Valley Wood Gardens. Like Tredegar House the grounds of Penllegare were bisected by the motorway. They have lain neglected for decades but now there is are a determined group of trustees, garden staff and volunteers who are steadily restoring the gardens. They have built a visitor and car park. At the same time clearing and opening up the Valley. The lakes have been cleared and this is certainly a development worth following.
Not far from Penllegare is the city of Swansea and we don’t have to bother the motorway to get there. Swansea is the home of Dylan Thomas and Cwmdonkin Park near to his family home has undergone a restoration to coincide with the celebrations of the centenary of his birth during 2014.
But we are in Swansea to visit Singleton Botanic Gardens. 100 acres of parkland with 5 acres of formal gardens laid out for our enjoyment. The Botanic gardens contain a tropical glasshouse housing rare orchids and begonias. Singleton takes part in the Botanics in Bloom held during August.
The horticultural attraction in Swansea is Clyne Gardens. They are the 19th Century creation of the Vyvian Family who like the Reginald Cory at Dyffryn sponsored overseas expeditions of the plant hunters. Reaching over 50 acres/25hectares in size the grounds house what is considered to be the finest collection of rhododendrons in in Wales. The gardens contain a wide selection of flowering trees and shrubs and should not be considered just a spring garden.
We now need to re-join the motorway at J 47 at this point we have almost crossed historic Glamorgan and are about to leave the county and enter Carmarthenshire which is home to two of the newest gardens in Wales. And we will be looking at them next time. Good bye and thank you for your company on our next leg of the journey we will finish up by the sea.