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Steps Back In Time: The National Botanical Gardens Of Wales.
Another Beautiful Sunday.
I bet you're all thinking 'gosh how come every Sunday in Wales is nice??! Just remember that I do have a very good imagination!
My partner's sister and her husband were staying with us. They love it here after the hustle and bustle of life in the city of Newcastle.
There was the usual; eating breakfast, showering: Etc.
Don't tell anyone but my sister in law reminds me of Mrs Bouquet with a little bell.
Last night it was "Eddy it's nine o'clock time for my Horlicks!!"
This is when hiding my true feelings comes in very handy ha ha ha!!!
Here I go again waffling as usual. Oh dear me!!! Question: Will I ever overcome my talent for waffling??
Now then to get along with the day........................................
We had already decided that we were going to The National Botanic Gardens Of Wales not too far away in Llanarthne in Carmarthenshire.
"Excuse me are we by any chance ready????" Dai getting impatient.
Sarcasm at its best I think ha ha ha!! Simply water off a ducks back to me!!!
To make matters worse Pat says "it will have closed by the time we get there. “Ah ha ha!!"
"Oh yes hahaha how amusing you all can be!!" I add.
Do you get times when you try your best to be in a good mood but the words just grind out!!!! Ouch!!!
Our journey there !!!!
We were zooming through the welsh countryside. I know I usually say flow, but I'm a little fed up of flowing therefore today we are zooming.
"This car is ever so comfortable to travel in." Pat said. “Isn’t it dear?" she prompts ever patient hubby Terry.
"Yes dear!" he replied.
I then remembered that they hadn't been in our Mondeo before. When they were down last we'd still had the Subaru.
I thought I would have missed our Subaru but I have to say that we don't. I think it was a car that Dai had been hankering after and just had to have one. He'd now worked it out of his system.
I know nothing about cars but I do know that The Mondeo is so much cheaper to run and there are also a few more benefits.
Now then no more waffling and I sat back to enjoy the scenery while pointing out different landmarks to Pat.
We are here!!!!
We soon arrive and after the usual finding loos etc. we go and purchase our tickets and of course our guide book. I have so many different ones at home I could begin my own library, and let's put a stop to this waffling or I'll just go on and on and on.....................................
Now then a quick read before we began our day of new discoveries:
The National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW) was situated near Llanarthne in the Towy Valley, Carmarthenshire, Wales. The garden was both a visitor’s attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation, and featured the world's largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110 m (360 ft.) long by 60 m (200 ft.) wide. National Botanic Gardens of Wales.
The history of the site and garden.
The Middleton family from Oswestry built a mansion here in the early 17th century. In 1789 William Paxton bought the estate for £40,000 to create a water park. He used his great wealth to employ some of the finest creative minds of his day, including the eminent architect Samuel Pepys Cockerel, whom he commissioned to design and build a new Middleton Hall, turning the original one into a farm. The new Middleton Hall became ‘one of the most splendid mansions in South Wales’ which ‘far eclipsed the proudest of the Cambrian mansions in Asiatic pomp and splendour’. Paxton created an ingenious water park. Water flowed around the estate via a system of interconnecting lakes, ponds and streams linked by a network of dams, water sluices, bridges and cascades. Spring water was stored in elevated reservoirs that fed into a lead cistern on the mansion’s roof, allowing Paxton’s residence to enjoy piped running water and the very latest luxury, water closets. Middleton Estate was described in a 19th century sale catalogue as ‘richly ornamented by nature, and greatly improved by art’ but fell into decline in the early 20th century. The house burnt down in 1931.
Some of the beautiful flowers in the garden.
History of the garden
The idea for a National Botanic Garden of Wales originated from the Welsh artist, William Wilkins, whose aunt had described to him the ruins of an elaborate water features she had discovered while walking in the local woods at Pont Felin Gat under the guidance of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, an application was made to the Millennium Commission to fund Britain’s first national botanic garden for 200 years. The Garden was opened to the public for the first time on 24 May 2000, and was officially opened on 21 July by the Prince of Wales In 2003, the garden ran into serious financial difficulties and in 2004 it accepted a financial package from the Welsh Assembly Government, Carmarthenshire County Council and the Millennium Commission to secure its future. The site extends to 568 acres and among the garden's rare and threatened plants is the White beam Sorbus leyana 21st Century approaches to recycling and conservation have been used in the design of the centre: biomass recycling is used to provide heating for some of the facilities such as the visitor centre and glasshouses.
Source: National Botanic Gardens of Wales. Wikipedia.
First to catch our eyes was The Great Glass house. This spectacular dome is the single span glasshouse in the world and was designed by Norman Foster & Partners. It lies in the Welsh countryside like a giant dew drop.
For the first time ever under the same roof , there are plants from five Mediterranean climate regions of California, western and South Australia, Central Chile, the western cape of South Africa and the Mediterranean basin itself (in which we include the canaries and other neighbouring islands off the western Atlantic coast.) are grown in separate geographical zones.
Oh my goodness me what a wondrous place, what magical beauty. Have you ever witnessed such beauty that you have stood rooted to the spot and it seems that time has stood still.
I will never forget this beautiful moment, ever!!!
I took a quick look in my guide book:
Designed by Kathryn Gustafson (who also built the Princess Diana memorial fountain in Kensington Park), this landscape covers 3,500 square metres, with rocky terraces white sandstone cliffs and gravelled scree slopes, intended to conjure up an image of the natural landscape of these regions.
"Shall we sit down for a while?" Pat said, while the men turned to her with a look that said 'wimp!'
"Yes what a brilliant idea," I agreed with her. We found a bench and picnic table a little further on, and the men who had scorned Pat's suggestion a little earlier sat down very quickly with a resounding sigh.
"Hmmm not tired men??!!!!!!" I had my two minutes of childish victory, nothing better. Ha ha!!!
I dived into our picnic bag and we had a couple of sandwiches and a much needed cup of tea.
Terry had a cigar and myself and Dai sat there just like two goody two shoes: Oh yes we had given up , and hadn't had a single cigarette since December 2nd 2009.
They say that there no one worse than a reformed smoker. Well I can't begin to think where people get that idea from???!!!!!
Hmmm strange isn't it what conclusions some people come to!!!!!
"Oh let's go over there to the Ice House!!" Pat says and we all look over to where she is pointing to.
"Oh my gosh!!" I gasp, thinking that I had already seen so much beauty but this was something else!!!
It was quite warm now so I tied my fleece round my waist and arm in arm with Dai walked up to the Ice House.
Apparently after another quick glance into my guide book, this Ice House was used by William Oaxton's servants as a fridge. They stored ice here there from the lakes to keep vegetables cropped from the Double Walled Gardens cool.
All of a sudden I felt the surrounding air a little muggy and Pat and Terry were beginning to find it all a bit much so it was decided to find a nice shady café.
"There's one just over there” Pat pointed to one nearby.
"I think I could do with a nice cool drink in the shade too." Dai gladly agreed.
However I didn't feel the need to sit in a shady café and felt an inclination to walk and explore the doubled walled garden nearby.
"Would you mind terribly if I didn't join you?" I asked not wanting to offend anyone. "I would like to take a walk through the gardens over there."
"Of course not!!” They all agreed. "Come over to the café after.” Dai said with a hug.
As they walked away I made my way over to the gardens.
I suddenly felt weary and sat on a hand carved wooden bench by the entrance.
All of a sudden a great sweet scented pink mist seemed to appear from nowhere and enveloped me almost tenderly, then even before I had time to sigh it was instantly gone and I brushed mud and grass away from my work breeches
"Sorry to be so rude, I must introduce myself: we are in the year of 1824 and I am William Paxton present owner of this grand establishment.
There's nothing I like better than to potter around in the garden when I have a few minutes to spare."
"Let me tell you a little more about myself, and how I came to be the present owner."
"Over yonder is Middleton Hall and it was built by Henry Middleton in the early 1600s."
"He was the High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in the year of 1644."
"Excuse me I must wipe my brow!!"
"Now then where was I?" "Oh yes I was telling you about Henry Middleton and his family. His son Christopher and his grandson Richard were High Sheriffs of the county in 1668 and 1701 respectively."
"However Richard's son Henry died childless and thus his sister Elizabeth inherited the grand estate."
"She was married to Thomas Gwyn of Gwempa and they had one son Richard Gwyn who in turn inherited the estate in in the 1750s"
"Sadly he fell into debt and the estate was passed on to his son Francis Edward Gwyn. Francis lived beyond his means and in 1766 Middleton Hall was sold to pay off debts."
"Now then it is at this point that I come into it because in 1789 I bought it for £40,00 and I have turned it into a home farm!"
"Between 1793 and 1795 I had a new mansion designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell."
"Follow me; watch the steps wouldn't want you to injure yourself!!"
"Do you see the new mansion is of a neo-classical design?" “The whole estate is so grand and I would not have achieved this without the expertise of architect Samuel Lapidge and engineer James Greer.”
"It has been so nice talking to you all but I am afraid that I am not in the best of health these days and I must retire for a short while." "God bless you all and please enjoy your walk around taking time to see the beautiful flowers and shrubs!"
The pink mist enveloped me once again bringing to me a strange but tender feeling.
Again as instantly as it appeared it also disappeared.
The day suddenly became a little fresher and the mist lifted. Now then I'd had enough of exploring so I'd better be on my way to find the others.
However they were walking towards me......................................
"Goodness me you were a long time!" Pat said. "We were getting quite concerned about you!"
"Sorry if I worried you but I had an interesting time exploring the gardens!"
As I looked over to the front door of Middleton Hall I am sure that William Paxton stood there waving with a look on his face that said 'our secret.'
After a lovely day so much enjoyed by all we made for home, I was dozing as I usually did after our 'journeys' and from the side of me there was a rumbling loud snore!!!
Oh yes Pat was out for the count as well.
The Next Morning.
It was about 10.30 when I sat by my faithful friend and went about finding out what I could about William Paxton and guess what yes everything added up exactly as he had narrated yesterday.
In 1824 Paxton died so he could not have lived for very long after my 'visit'. Oh that's a little sad.
I hope that you have all enjoyed yourselves on our journey and that you will also join me next time.
I end with a few more images of the beautiful gems which thrive in these enchanting gardens.
Take care and lots of love from my little corner of Wales.