Posted on 04/04/2018 by David
The arrival of spring and the impending arrival of summer means it will soon be time for exploring the great outdoors.
We may be biased, but we think North Wales’s outdoors is greater than most, with an abundance of rugged mountains, dense forests, sparkling waterways and rolling fields.
But did you know we also boast a collection of spectacular gardens, bursting with colourful flora?
To help you discover this area’s wealth of landscapes we’ve put together a list of some unmissable gardens across North Wales that will be in beautiful bloom this spring (and all summer long).
Famous as the location where cult classic series The Prisoner was filmed, Portmeirion is a true masterpiece that must be seen to be believed.
Architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis developed the village close to Porthmadog to prove that a place of natural majesty could be developed yet still retain its native beauty – and he was certainly right!
At Portmeirion you feel as though you have stepped into another world; as well as pastel-coloured buildings and winding streets of quaint shops and restaurants, you’ll discover a magical collection of sprawling gardens both wild and formal.
The climate on the Portmeirion peninsula is perfect for cultivating an array of plants not normally found thriving in the British countryside, including the colossal Gunnera manicata from Brazil.
Other amazing sights in the gardens include around twenty miles-worth of pathways, sparkling lakes, a Chinese-style pavilion and even a cemetery for dogs!
In the spring time you’ll find the gardens in early bloom, with the tentative sun beaming down onto incredible architecture and shimmering across lakes and pond. You’ll definitely want to keep your camera handy!
Admission (for Portmeirion village): Adult from £11, child from £7.50, concession from £9.50
Plas Brondanw is another creation of Clough Williams-Ellis, and though perhaps not as famous as Portmeirion, this was the Williams-Ellis home, having been in the family for centuries when the architect inherited it in 1908.
Clough almost made it to a century himself – he died aged 94 in 1978 – and throughout his long life he was dedicated to developing the beautiful gardens at Plas Brondanw. His mark is everywhere, including in much of the wrought iron, where his initials are incorporated into intricate designs.
Nestled amongst jaw-dropping Snowdonia scenery, the garden is divided into several sections, or rooms, each with fascinating topiaries, hedges, plants, trees, ponds and sculptures to admire.
Each 'room' is cleverly divided with ‘walls’ of privet hedging and yew trees. Though the Italianite style used so famously across Portmeirion is also present here, the majority of the flora at Plas Brondanw is native to the UK.
Opposite the garden, which was grown in line with Cnicht – also known as the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’ – is a gate to the Pentwr Tower. Pentwr was constructed with funds given as a wedding present from Williams-Ellis’ peers in the Welsh Guards, and still stands proud over the garden to this day.
If time permits, stop by Oriel Brondanw, which displays fascinating exhibitions.
This Grade I listed property is home to some of the world’s most spectacular gardens, in almost every style. A year-round destination, the garden is full of plants and trees from around the world.
Bodnant is spread over 80 picturesque acres in the Conwy Valley, with areas of meadow, lawn, forest, water features and flowering terraces.
The garden was founded in 1874 by Henry Pochin, who set about filling it with the botanical discoveries and treasures discovered by world-famous explorers.
Here you can see the world’s first laburnum arch, the earliest magnolias to arrive in the UK (coming into bloom right now!), and hybrid rhododendron flowers not found anywhere else on the planet.
Springtime at Bodnant means blankets of brightly coloured daffodils, magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias and more.
The garden is also constantly evolving; though the manor house here isn’t open to the public, the gardens have been looked after by the National Trust since 1949, and have seen new areas open as recently as 2012.
Don’t miss the famous Laburnum Arch, which has been an iconic symbol of this garden for over 100 years; it’s generally at its best between late May and early June, and is the perfect sign of spring.
Admission: Adult £13.20, child £6.60. Group tickets are also available.
The Plas Cadnant Hidden Garden is, as its name suggests, one of North Wales’s best kept secrets.
Located in a prime spot next to the beautiful Menai Strait and close to the famous Menai Bridge, the garden and its many wonders are hidden from view.
Current owner Anthony Tavernor purchased the gardens in 1996 and began restoration and rejuvenation work on this historic place.
Tavernor is restoring the gardens based on the early 1800s picturesque style, and there are several different areas to visit here, each with a markedly different character.
The Walled Garden stretches over two acres, and features both distinctive curved walls and a beautiful pool. In the Upper Woodland section there are visible rocky outcrops, an array of flora and the ruins of a 19th century folly nestled in the undergrowth. The spectacular Secret Valley area is a highlight, with a trio of waterfalls and a stretch of babbling river.
Visit during spring and enjoy the blooms of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and a variety of other flowers.
Admission (from April): Adults £7.50, children (6-16 years) £2, children under 5 free. Family and Concession tickets are also available.
Overlooking the Menai Strait, Plas Newydd is one of North Wales’s grandest houses, and is also home to a spectacular garden.
There are 40 acres of garden and a further 129 acres of scenic woodland and beautiful parkland to explore, filled with a range of fascinating plant and wildlife.
The huge stone manor house on Anglesey functions not just as a fascinating piece of living history, but as a sort of greenhouse; its huge walls provide a sheltered climate for exotic plants, while the sun room terrace houses a breath-taking wall covered in naturally-growing flowers.
Don’t miss the Italianite Terrace, adorned in technicolour blossoms and blooms; make sure to wander through the leafy woodlands full of Chilean beeches and eucalyptus trees; and don’t leave without admiring the southern garden packed with rhododendron and magnolia flowers.
But it’s not just flora that makes this a remarkable destination – Plas Newydd is also a wonderland for its fauna, too.
A decade ago six red squirrels made their home here, and the gardens are now the proud home of more than 100! To mark the occasion, Plas Newydd is launching the Red Squirrel Appeal to further develop a natural habitat for the tree-loving rodents.
Admission: Adults £11.60, child £5.80. Family tickets are available.
Have we inspired a spring trip to see North Wales in bloom? Browse our collection to find the perfect place to stay.
Images courtesy: all by Tori Smith, 2018 - Bodnant Garden in springtime.