Open Day for National Gardens Scheme. Notes for Visitors

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Introduction and review of the year to date

It is difficult to believe that it is exactly a year ago that we had our last Open Day in the middle of a very wet spell of weather and had to endure a torrential downpour with over 200 people in the garden. From the weather of the last few days it appears that history may be repeating itself but we are keeping our fingers crossed for fine weather on Sunday 25 July from 1 - 5 pm.

It has certainly been a very challenging weather year from the coldest winter in the 34 years we have been at Cilgwyn Lodge with the lowest recorded temperature of -16C in January, a cold and very dry spring, late frosts in mid May, warm sunshine and drought like conditions in June to monsoons in July!!

In spite of all this most plants are doing what they do best - getting on with the business of growing, flowering and producing seed to secure future generations. The old border stalwarts like geraniums, delphiniums, phlox, campanulas, shasta daisies, hostas and hemerocallis have not been affected by the challenging growing conditions and seem to be flowering more profusely than for some years. Many of them will still be looking good for the Open Day and with some deadheading and cutting back will continue for some time.

We are pleased that in spite of a few losses, many of the shrubs we feared we had lost are slowly coming back, and amazingly many dahlias, salvias, dieramas, lobelias, impatiens especially tinctoria and arguta, have survived in the ground and are starting to put on a later show than usual.

What to look for in July

We have our main Open Day in July because there is collectively more to see now than at any other time of the year. Most of the principal borders, especially those in the Paddock Garden, are at their best and fullest and the vegetable garden is bursting with veg and fruit (there are currently 16 varieties of vegetable available for harvest and the peas are particularly productive at the moment). The vegetable garden with the current trend for home grown produce, now attracts much more interest than was the case when we first opened in 2000. It is no wonder that sales of vegetable seeds in the UK in the last couple of years have exceeded those of flowers.

The annuals we sow every year in modules under protection in February and March are real stalwarts and include poppies of many sorts, cornflowers, nicotianas including "Lime Green", langsdorfii, affinis, suaveolens, and silvestris, orlaya grandiflora, nasturtium "Milkmaid", usrsinia speciosa and this year two fabulous blue annuals new to us, nolana and convolvulus "Blue Ensign" are putting on a good show. We are also pleased with a candytuft, iberis giant hyacinth flowered that is more upright in habit than most candytufts. It has drawn many glowing comments from visitors to the Gardens.

The clematis are getting into their stride and we grow many more later flowering varieties than earlies. Vitcella "Prince Charles" is looking very good with no mildew at present and lots of lovely bluish flowers, but the current queen is a delightful viticella/crispa cross "Betty Corning" with pendant scented bells in a delicate shade of pale blue. We have already sold out of all the plants of this we had for sale. The viorna group from the USA  is a large group of clematis characterised by tulip shaped flowers in shades particularly of red and purple. We have an expanding collection of these, including a very fine species form of clematis texensis given to us by Keith Treadaway, a National Collection holder, with exquisite if small flowers in a striking shade of red. The texensis group have provided one of the parents for all the red clematis currently in cultivation.

The complementary herbaceous borders in the Paddock Garden are the main centre of attention with too many plants to name individually but the overall effect of these two double borders in a traditional style 40 yards long and up to 8 metres wide creates a real "wow" factor as visitors enter the Paddock Garden.

The red border has attracted some very glowing testimonials and has been favourably compared by visitors to some of the best red borders in gardens far larger than our own. It is particularly gratifying and humbling because it has not been easy to find red flowered plants and shrubs that sit comfortably with each other. Trial and error has been the only way that we have achieved this. One of the latest additions has been an asiatic lily"Black Pearl" in a wonderful shade of the deepest magenta and exceptionally large flowers. It is amazing how hardy many lilies are in the open ground and each year we plant more and more.

One final area of the garden which is looking good is the Paddock Pond. The water lilies have been fantastic, there is hardly any duckweed thanks to a family of mallards in the spring, and a vigorous regime of blanket weed removal has ensured clearer and warmer water which has benifitted the waterlilies. There are many tadpoles hatching into frogs and toads and on sunny days the air has been  thick with dragonflies. The seats around the pond are a great place to have a well earned cup of tea and delicious cake before continuing your tour of the garden and the obligatory visit to the Nursery

The Nursery

There is a wide selection of well grown plants from the garden at very reasonable prices for sale. Cultural and other advice is freely available either from Keith, or our friends, fellow nurserymen and plant nuts, Tony Marden of and Richard Bramley of Farmyard Nurseries whom we hope to have selling plants for us on Sunday. Incidentally Tony will be bringing some of his shade plants for sale including his amazing range of arisaemas and amorphophallus. Visit for further information.


Once again our teas will be served by the ladies of Myddafi WI Regular visitors testify to the excellence of the cakes and the range available. All are home made in keeping with the finest traditions of the WI movement. There are two serveries in the Gardens; one in the summerhouse in the Paddock Garden, the other under the pergola adjoining the house. There are plenty of seats in the garden to enjoy your teas. Why not see if you can have a piece of cake in each of the main 5 seating areas (other visitors have been known to try it during the course of a fine afternoon!!!)

A round up of other visits in July

We have had 9 group visits since the Gardens opened in early June, as well as many private individual visits throughout the period. In July we have had visits from Wales Historic Gardens Trust, Talybont-on Usk and Ferryside Garden Clubs and last Sunday The British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society. All were a great success in mostly fine weather. Sadly last Sundays visit was held in rain but it did not spoil the enjoyment of the visitors who came  from all over the UK from as far apart as Aberdeen and London including 2 from Sweden. There were some well known and extremely knowledgeable plants people and it was a privilege to have them visit us. They held a good fun plant auction to raise money for Society funds and there were some very rare hostas on offer, of which of course we bought some!

We also had a visit from the garden photographer Charles Hawes of Veddw House in Monmouthshire who co-produced the recent book "Discovering Welsh Gardens", and his garden writer wife Anne Wareham. It was pleasure to show them around the Gardens and take tea with them.

We continue welcome visitors to the Gardens in August and September. Just give us a call to make sure that we will be around before setting out to visit us (please see garden leaflet or the website for contact details). We will not be available from 26 July until 4 August.