Thursday, 22 June 2017
North Wales - Part 1: Plas Brondanw Gardens
B had one of those landmark birthdays last year and, for his main present, D, E and I bought him a voucher for a night's stay for two at The Portmeirion Hotel. B has been a fan of The Prisoner for years and we have visited Portmeirion and attended Prisoner Conventions many times but this was the first time we had stayed there. Even if you do not particularly like the Prisoner tv series the village itself is an architectural marvel and so picturesque.
As usual we left home later than planned! and had a short break when we reached Corwen for tea and cake and to stretch our legs.
Statue of Owain Glyndwr who in 1400 led a national revolt against English rule in Wales. He was proclaimed Prince of Wales by a Welsh Parliament and won many battles and gained castles over most of the country. He summoned several parliaments and made alliances with France, Scotland and Ireland and set up an independent Welsh church and founded 2 universities. He gave the Welsh hope for many years and his legend lived on even though he died in obscurity having refused to take the pardon offered to him. He is known as the Father of modern Wales.
For some unknown reason the satnav decided to send us across country via a winding narrow "B" road in the direction of Ffestioniog. It was a very picturesque route but
my goodness it took a long time!
It was only early afternoon so we decided to visit Plas Brondanw - a Grade 1 listed garden and one of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis's most important projects. He designed the gardens to fit into the landscape and there are wonderful views of Snowdonia. He was helped by his daughter Susan Williams-Ellis and her daughter Menna advises today on plants and garden management. The sloping site contains a series of garden rooms and terraces and his message "Cherish the past, adorn the present, construct for the future" can be felt throughout the garden.
The house was originally built in 1550 by Sir Clough's ancestor John ap Hywell. Clough was given Plas Brondanw by his father and it became his main interest away from his work as an architect. In 1915 he married Amabel Strachey and they had three children - Susan, Charlotte and a son Christopher who lost his life during World War 2.
Clough's work at Plas Brondwyn gave him the confidence to tackle the much larger scale project at Portmeirion. He died on 8th April 1978. He is best known for his work at Portmeirion (which was built between 1925 and 1978) where he showed how sympathetic development can enhance a landscape. He was a founder member of the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and he supported the development of National Parks. Other works nearby by Clough include Capel Moriah, Llangoed Estate, War Memorial in Garreg, David Lloyd George's grave, Nantclywd Hall, Conwy restaurant etc.
Many thanks to Rosie from "Corners of my Mind" blog who told me about these delightful gardens.
There are lovely views as you walk along the drive to the house.
We had a slice of barabrith and a cup of tea overlooking this lily pond
and then explored the gardens.
I loved the idea of this brightly coloured climber over the yew.
The topiary is composed of Irish and English Yew.
The Holm or Evergreen Oak is the oldest tree in the garden (about 200 years old) with a trunk circumference of 4.59 metres.
Clough and his wife Amabel called it the "bong tree".
In the distance you can see the Mermaid Gates erected in memory of the sea (now departed) which, before an embankment was erected, came within 100 yards of this part of the garden.
Beyond the roses is the area known as "The Full Stop".
"Plants in Walls"
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and his wife Amabel.
We continued our journey to Portmeirion.........