A plantsman’s paradise

This month SO’s gardening guru Tim Sykes of Gardenproud pays a visit to an inspirational garden which reignites his passion for planting…


A recent trip to Aberglasney Gardens in Wales revealed just how extraordinary and varied planting can be.

Aberglasney is situated on the edge of the beautiful and dramatic scenery of the Brecon Beacons. There are many wonderful places to stay nearby, but we fortunately found Llandeilo, a picture-perfect town nestled in the Welsh hills, which is a short distance from Carmarthen.

Aberglasney was made famous by the BBC television series ‘A Garden Lost in Time’ which followed its restoration.

It was opened to the public in 1999, while the garden’s transformation was underway.

It’s a plantsman’s paradise, with over 10 acres of magnificent gardens. Every one of them is a sight to behold. Our visit in June was an excellent time to witness the garden in full bloom.

The star of the show for my wife was the Upper Walled Garden, with its strong oval geometry, created by the pathways, softened by the vivid display of colour of the perennials and the structure of the topiary. It was reminiscent of the dramatic displays at Great Dixter.

One amazing discovery for box blight casualties is the Rhododendron ‘Bloombux’ a clippable dwarf rhododendron that likes moist, well-drained soil and displays lovely pink flowers in May and June. (See the RHS website for more details.)

Below this area is situated the Kitchen Garden (Lower Walled Garden). For me, the structure of the Kitchen Garden, created by the planting into quartiles was most impressive. Each quartile is framed by a dwarf apple tree border hedge created from an espaliered ‘Step-Over’ apple trees, planted among a low thyme border. (See more about these trees at Frank P Matthews.)

From the Kitchen Garden we walked into the Pool Garden, past a perfectly formed ‘Wedding Cake Tree’ and on into the Sunken Garden. Here a water feature designed by William Pye lies at its centre. William, who is renowned for his imaginative water sculptures has created an asymmetric design, using a square and circle theme, with a stainless steel hemisphere focal point. It looks stunning among the perennials surrounding it.

From here a short walk takes you into the Jubilee Woodland Garden. This is a planting triumph. It is so spectacular. Here special care was required in selecting plants as the area is very boggy. After much work to the drainage the garden now flourishes with gunnera, various varieties of primula, poppies, iris, rodgersia, ferns and hostas.

There is so much to enjoy at Aberglasney you really need to devote a whole day to touring around it. To help you enjoy the experience there is an excellent cafe overlooking the Pool Garden, and a well-stocked nursery and shop.


For further information visit: www.aberglasney.org

For further information and help with your garden design contact Tim Sykes, at Gardenproud on 07725 173820

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