I want to tell to you about the gardens of Wales. Everyone knows about the wonderful Powis Castle, Bodnant Gardens, Chirk and Erdigg in north Wales but I want to talk to you about the gardens of south Wales and most of the ones that I am going to list are all easily accessible from the M4 motorway. Our journey will take us from the border town of Chepstow in the east, travelling all away across south east Wales to Haverfordwest on the west coast of Pembrokeshire.
So, I hope that you will be tempted to travel west on the M4 As you approach Wales along the motorway you have the opportunity to use the older but much more elegant Severn Bridge. You have to follow the M48 signs towards Chepstow, ignoring all directions towards the newer Severn Crossing. At the Bridge leave the M48 at Junction 2 and head towards Chepstow and towards the glorious Wye Valley. This is a treat in itself as it takes you past the romantic ruins of Tintern Abbey sat on the banks of the River Wye and all along the hilltop is Offa’s Dyke that marks the ancient border between England and Wales which still travels all the way to Chester in the north.
The first garden you come to is in St. Arvens. They are the Grade II listed gardens of Wyndcliffe Court. The gardens are the creation of Avery Tipping the former editor of Country Life and who was a close friend of Gertrude Jekyll. They were designed in the Arts and Crafts style and were completed in 1922. The gardens feature clipped topiary, sunken garden, fountains, lily pond and a walled garden.
In nearby Devauden are Veddw House Gardens they are the creation of garden writer Anne Wareham and photographer Charles Hawes. It’s a mixture of formal and semi-formal areas that blend in perfectly with the surrounding countryside.
At this point you can either travel on to the ruins of Tintern Abbey which I would highly recommend or turn around and head back towards Chepstow When the Anglo French wars prevented the aristocracy and landed gentry going on the Grand Tour they would wander around wild Wales starting in the north and head south ending up at the Abbey.
We now return to the A48 headings towards Caerwent to visit Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes. This is a recently completed restoration of a Pulhamite Rockery and Grotto that was buried under thousands of tons of soil. The gardens were built around 1895 and as well the rockeries and grottoes there are ponds, waterfalls and flower beds.
Rejoining the M4 we travel past the Historic town of Newport on the banks of the River Usk via the Brynglas Tunnels before leaving the motorway at Junction 28 to visit Tredegar House which is situated right on the junction in fact the motorway cuts through the grounds. Apart from the magnificent brick built house there are the grounds that contain The Orchard Garden, The Cedar Garden and The Orangery Garden. The park land gardens are extensive and contains a lake as well.
I think that this is enough excitement for now and we haven’t even left the old county of Monmouth. We are now going back on to the motorway and heading for historic Glamorgan and St. Fagan’s Castle and Museum of Welsh Life. But this is all for now from my View from the Valley. Cheerio and I look forward to escorting you on the next leg of our Horticultural Grand Tour of south Wales.