Any garden billed as a hidden gem gets my attention, especially ones whose names I cannot pronounce: Dyffryn, Erdigg, Plast Newydd, and Llanerchaeron. There are well-known Welsh gardens: Powis Castle (which we all know from the plant named after the castle) and Bodnant.
Pamela Smith did her best to open our minds to gardens that go as far back as the 14th century.
“Wales is slightly damp. You don’t get good gardens without the rain.” Pamela Smith
Peppered with the history of each house, the peculiarities of its owners and the evolution of its gardens, Pamela Smith gave a workman-like presentation. For example, Penrhyn Castle, 600 ft. long, contains a one-ton bed made of slate built for a visit by Queen Victoria, as well as a garden full of fuchsias; Erddig Hall, owned by the same family for generations, composed poems about all their servants; Llanerchaeron (pictured above) where the Head Gardener, a “tidy person” has trouble balancing the self-seeding meadow that surrounds the house with the English tendency to create order.
I want to go to Wales, but not for the gardens. It’s the unspoiled landscape: the hidden lanes, the remnants of the Celts/Vikings and the challenge of pronouncing Welsh names.
Bryn Cader Faner
Pamela Smith is the National Trust’s Garden and Parks Consultant to Wales and the Midlands. She works with gardens across Wales, including the gardens at Powis Castle, Erddig and Bodnant, and those in the Midlands region.
Smith advises on restoration, new acquisitions, and design and innovation within the historic landscapes. She is particularly interested in the historic significance of the plant collections within National Trust Gardens
Ms. Smith trained in horticulture in York and before joining the NT worked in public parks, historic landscapes and botanic gardens. For eight years she was the Director of the University of Birmingham Botanic Garden. She is Vice Chair of PlantNetwork, the national network promoting botanical collections in Britain and Ireland as a national resource for research, conservation and education.
In 2009, Ms. Smith was awarded a CABE Space scholarship and visited the United States and Canada to research community gardens.
National Trust Consultant to Wales and the Midlands
SEEDS OF THOUGHT
The Glory of Welsh Gardens
Royal Oak Foundation
April 23, 2013 / The Colony Club