After only three days in N. Wales, I can already see why visitors go ga-ga about gardens in the UK.
A temperate climate, abundant rain, and a long-standing passion for exotic plants have resulted in gardens of jaw-dropping splendor. It seems like just about every type of plant is willing to be friendly neighbors: agaves in the same container as geraniums, yuccas surrounded by pansies. And all of them looking perky and pleased.
I already feel like I may become hoarse from the “oohs,” “aahs,” and, “look at this” that are almost constantly emerging from my lips as The Sweetie and I stroll through gardens in this fetching part of the world.
Yesterday we drove over what looked like a miniature Brooklyn Bridge to arrive on the island of Anglesey. After about 15 more minutes (with The Sweetie gently but persistently reminding me to move more to the center of the road–I’ve already wrecked the left view mirror), we arrived at Plas Newydd.
Walking from the car park along the magnificent stand of Monterrey cypresses pictured above (planted during the 1950s, we later learned, and yes, that’s Monterrey, CA with a temperate climate similar to that of N. Wales), I got the impression that this garden was probably going to be more about trees than about flowers. Actually, it turned out that more than anything, Plas Newydd is about landscape–and what a grand landscape it is!
The house dates back to the 18th century and many of the trees seem to be almost as old. Lord and Lady Anglesey, whose ancestry dates back to the time of Napoleon, still live on the top floors (he’s 88!), but the extraordinary house and property are now maintained by The National Trust.
Here’s the scene that comes into view when you pass the last cypress and turn to the left:
A visitor can wander around on the vast lawns surrounding the house. I normally hate lawns, but in this case I was totally smitten by the palate of lush green punctuated only by occasional trees, shrubs, and clumps of hydrangeas.
Today I am reflecting back on why Plas Newydd has left such a lasting impression. Perhaps it is the seeming infinity of the views. Perhaps it is the emphasis on height: the tall ancestral home, the towering trees, the terraced beds, the leggy flowers.
Here’s a close-up of one of the beds. Look up! Look up again! There is always something taller to see.