Thursday, 19 April 2012

Gwyr - Diwrnod Pump

So, Welsh for 'five' is 'pump'. It must be one of those quirky twists of Fate, just in case I was trying to forget about the tanker drivers' threatened strike action.

This particular Day 5 was a very cold Wednesday. We decided to forego the option of staying indoors and, instead, visited the re-discovered gardens at Aberglasney. Driving northwards from the Gower, we reached the valley of the River Tywi and were soon stood in the freezing cold listening to the spiel from the lady in the ticket office (who must have had neat anti-freeze coursing through her veins, poor lamb). It was a very nice introduction, but as I'd immediately been handed a map of the gardens, I wasn't listening. I was frantically searching the legend for the numbered circle that coincided with the word 'Cafe'. Priorities!

Bypassing the house, art exhibition and gardens, we settled down with a pot of tea and a slice of cake, and took the opportunity to read the guide book. Having been neglected for many years, by the mid 1990s the house was in a state of collapse and the garden was overgrown. A charitable trust was set up and, with the help of donations, restoration has been possible. The central section of the house was too far gone to save, but an imaginatively-designed atrium was built to house warm temperate and sub-tropical plants in a Ninfarium. It's funny how some words leap from the page... warm... sub-tropical.

Suitably refreshed, we explored the garden, despite a bitter wind and the occasional shower of rain. In the Stream Garden, there were the most extraordinary daffodils I have ever seen. As it turns out they were a species of Narcissus, (bulbocodium obesus) or Hoop-petticoat daffodil (sadly, I failed to take a photo, but try this link to a picture on the Alpine Garden Society's webpage). They were spread over a grassy bank in the company of some fritillaries and looked amazing.

View of the house from the Upper Walled Garden
Following a lap of the various garden 'rooms', we opted to thaw out by going sub-tropical in the Ninfarium. Whilst there were some colourful flowers in bloom, I was particularly impressed by the leaves of this fern thing (possibly?) which seemed to be having a team huddle before getting on with the whole business of growing and photosynthesising and other planty stuff.

See that bloke with the camera? He knows jack about horticulture.
I was also intrigued by the aviary. Well, actually, I was worried at first, on account of not being comfortable with caged things of any description. But if you consider that the basic principle of an aviary is to build a mesh structure to contain the birds but allow the spectator to see said birds, then turn that thought on its head, you get...

A great place to grow fruit where birds can't get in. Genius!
Obviously, weatherwise, we didn't pick a great day to visit, but I'm sure we'll return at another time of year.

That evening, we made our one and only trip of the week to the city of Swansea and enjoyed a meal at a Turkish restaurant in Mumbles, where we met up with an acquaintance from the University. The talk was mainly natural history, heavy on dragons, with a side order of botany. A flower was mentioned that I'd not heard of before. In fact, I even thought I'd mis-heard the colloquial name, Town Hall Clock, though later, after failing to find it in my ID book, I had to resort to the internet to solve the mystery. Live and learn.

6 comments:

Sarah Walker said...

I clicked the link for the strange daffodils. Wow!! I like, may have to try to grow them next year at Thornaby Towers!! :)

Imperfect and tense said...

There were umpteen varieties of daffodil on display ( it is Wales, after all), but these were my favourites.

Martin said...

You went to the Mediterranea? Om nom nom!! Hallumi? the yoghurt dip starter?

Yes, Fern. Ferns grow from one base with all the leaves coming from one point, Bracken looks similar unrolling but has stem with leaves growing off the Stem. Try Harts-tongue fern - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_scolopendrium. The leaves start smooth and go wiggly at the edges with time. I used to have one in a pot at home until it was a victim of the various moves and basal-rot.

Imperfect and tense said...

Yeah, named after Ninfa, I believe.

Thanks for the plant ID. It's something I need to improve (as well as much else!).

Spadger said...

Loving catching up with your blogs. The dafs look amazing. Like the alternative use of the aviary - ever considered putting one around Tense Towers to keep the kids out:0)!!

Imperfect and tense said...

... or us kids in!