The WHGT office is at the Bothy, Aberglasney, a magical ‘lost garden’ of Wales. Sited in the Tywi valley, its gardens include Britain’s only surviving Elizabethan cloister garden and parapet walk. An ambitious programme of restoration has saved Aberglasney from neglect and abandonment. The origins of Aberglasney remain a mystery but it may have been the site of the ‘nine green gardens’ of Rhydderch described by the bard Lewis Glyn Cothi c.1470.
Garden archaeology has revealed layers of history with the earliest surviving structures from the early 1600s belonging to the house built by the Bishop of St David's, Anthony Rudd and his son Sir Rice. Later developments are by Robert Dyer of the early C18 when the lawn was raised and the house remodelled in the Queen Anne style. There is interesting planting including a wide variety of woodland plants, such as meconopsis, and orchids.
Recently an indoor garden has been created within the ruin of the courtyard, where rare tender plants are cultivated.
Today you can see just how much has changed. This garden was saved with the support of WHGT.Paul White photographed Aberglasney in 1995, (See images below and www.paulwhitephotographic.co.uk and www.welshruins.co.uk )
Images: Copyright Paul White
Cowbridge Physic Garden
A major achievement of the South & Mid Glamorgan Branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust has been the creation of the Cowbridge Physic Garden which is now a prestige visitor attraction in the Vale of Glamorgan.
In 2003 the then newly-elected chairman of the Branch, Dan Clayton Jones, put forward his vision of creating a physic garden within a neglected, walled site opposite the former Grammar School in the heart of Cowbridge. That school’s long association with Jesus College, Oxford, and the formal gardens which are a feature of many Oxford colleges, were the inspiration for our chairman’s plans which he challenged his committee to implement. The challenge was accepted, and over the next twelve months plans were drawn up, sources of funding explored, negotiations opened to secure the site, and individual Branch committee members charged with specific responsibilities. In 2004 the Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust was formed, drawing in members of the wider community but with the continuing heavy involvement of the WHGT Branch.
In 2003 the site of the garden was a neglected wilderness of rows of spindly trees and an impenetrable undergrowth of brambles and litter. Clearance of the site began early in 2005, landscaping and construction work started later that year and was completed by the following summer when planting began.
The garden was opened to the public while planting was still in progress, and over the next two years the garden came to life thanks to the dedication of volunteers. In June 2008 the Cowbridge Physic Garden was officially opened by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and in 2009 she agreed to become the Patron of the garden.
The National Botanic Garden at Middleton Hall
Artist William Wilkins was the founder of the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Middleton Hall. Enthusiasm, persistence and the support of the Millennium Commission led to the Botanic garden being established. Wilkins was also the founder chairman of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and a former director of the Aberglasney Restoration Trust.
See here for further information.
Hafod Estate, Ceredigion
Hafod, is the remarkable Picturesque designed landscape creation of Thomas Johnes, cousin of Richard Payne Knight, saved thanks to a private benefactor through the WHGT in partnership with the Forestry Commission. Hafod is now managed by Ymddiriedolaeth yr Hafod - The Hafod Trust. This late Eighteenth century landscape was one of the finest examples of ‘the Picturesque’ influenced by William Mason’s poem ‘the English Garden’(1772-82) and William Gilpin. Hafod is also an exploration of the sublime aesthetic, famous for its ‘Devil’s Bridge’ and was visited by many of the romantic writers and philosophers of the day. Between 1795 and 1801 Johnes planted over two million trees and ‘improved ‘the natural rugged surroundings such as around the ‘Cavern Cascade’ for the sake of the view.