Tag Archives: Gardens

March daffodils

 

The daffodils are emerging.  Here at Bodnant Garden in North Wales they put on a spectacular display in the Old Park Meadow…

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

Later in the summer the meadow looks like this…

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

The National Trust own this fabulous garden and are managing a lot of it for wild flowers, pollinating insects, birds and mammals, which is great because 98% of these old hay meadows have been lost from the Welsh countryside in the last 50 years because of agricultural intensification…

Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe

 

 

Summer Day Dreams

Photo: Mike Alexander - scapeimages.com
Photo: Mike Alexander – scapeimages.com

I’m just finishing off a job I had last summer writing conservation management plans for several National Trust castle and mansion gardens, and this photo has briefly transported me back from the cold and the rain to more serene days of glorious summer…

Missing summer…

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

Nice Day In The Gardens of Erddig

Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander
Photo: Mike Alexander

This week we are management planning for the National Trust at the wonderful landscape and gardens of Erddig in North Wales….here are some nice photos courtesy of the other Mike.

 

Flower Tunnels and Giant Trees

So this week I’ve been in North Wales doing some more work on my grasslands project for the National Trust, and I visited Bodnant Gardens which apparently are world famous, although I hadn’t heard of them and you probably haven’t either, which is a shame because they are absolutely magnificent!  Because I wasn’t being a tourist (I was working!), I didn’t take lots of photos of all the lovely herbaceous borders and lawns and the mansion house, so I can’t show you those.  I did, however, have to take photos of the amazing laburnum tunnel and the magnificent old trees that dominate and seem to exist in a different dimension and time to you and I.  Anyway have a look first at the delightful laburnum tunnel, hand crafted by the very gifted National Trust gardeners who were all really nice to me and showed me around…..

Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe

And now feast your eyes on these humungous trees…..

Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe

Here’s an idea of the house and lawns (which I secretly love and would like to play tennis on given half a chance!)…

Photo: Mike Howe
Photo: Mike Howe
Bodnant house 1
Photo: Mike Howe

I can also report that the cream teas served were absolutely divine.  It was a tough job but someone had to do it 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mock Castle Built on the Backs of Slaves and Welsh Quarrymen

Penryhn CastleI’ve been away this week helping the National Trust out with some of their management issues at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales.  My first impression of this place, because of its incredibly grand appearance on a truly large scale, was that this mock castle must have been built either by somebody with a great sense of humour, or someone with a whopping ego.  I’m reliably informed it was the latter.

Penryhn Castle 1The castle is another reminder of the ubiquity of Britain’s links with slavery.  It belonged to the Pennant family, famous for their slate quarries in North Wales, but whose major fortunes came from the exploitation of the slave trade in the Caribbean in the 17th century.

The family acquired plantations in Jamaica and held high office on that island, before a new generation returned to Britain and started trading from Liverpool.  With the money the family made from these varied slavery-based enterprises, the Pennants acquired substantial holdings in Wales and also developed slate quarries.

Penryhn Castle 2Penrhyn Castle was developed on the site of an ancient property, but it is a 19th-century version of a Norman castle.  Alongside Harewood House, it provides an example of the levels of material wealth that was accumulated by those engaged in the slave trade, which was then invested into British property and land.

The family apparently were not liked by the indigenous Welsh population.  Apparently they didn’t treat the quarry workers at all well.

These days the castle is owned and managed by the National Trust, and the gardens are lovely.

Rhody pathIt was a real pleasure to have a look round and to help out with management issues.

Walled gardenThe castle itself was closed on the day I was there, but the rather lovely railway museum was open, so I had a little wander around some beautiful machines from yesteryear…..

Fire engineI’ll be visiting many more interesting castles and mansions as part of this particular job, so I’ll keep you posted….