Aberglasney House and gardens are set in the rolling countryside of the Towy valley west of Llandeilo. The present house and gardens date back to the ownership of Bishop Rudd, Bishop of St David's who acquired the estate around 1600. Over the years, the house changed hands and seemed to cause a massive drain on the finances of its owners, with house and gardens falling into disrepair. The son of Robert Dyer, a Carmarthen lawyer who purchased Aberglasney in 1710 was John Dyer (1699-1757) an artist and poet of some note. Among his poems is The Country Walk where he describes Aberglasney Gardens:
See below the
pleasant Dome, The Poet’s Pride, the Poet’s Home,
Which the Sun-Beams shine upon,
To the Even, from the Dawn.
See her Woods and Echo talks,
Her Gardens trim, her Terrace Walks,
Her Wildernesses, fragrant Brakes,
Her gloomy bowers, and shining Lakes.
Keep, ye Gods, this humble seat
For ever pleasant, private, neat.
This poem was written on Grongar Hill, West of Aberglasney, which was the title of his most famous poem. Wordsworth wrote the following sonnet in 1838:
TO THE POET,
Bard of the Fleece, whose skilful genius made
That Work a living landscape fair and bright ;
Nor hallowed less with musical delight
Than those soft scenes through which thy childhood strayed,
Those southern tracts of Cambria, 'deep embayed,'
With green hills fenced, with ocean's murmur lulled;
Though hasty Fame hath many a chaplet culled
For worthless brows, while in the pensive shade
Of cold neglect she leaves thy head ungraced,
Yet pure and powerful minds, hearts meek and still,
A grateful few, shall love thy modest Lay,
Long as the shepherd's bleating flock shall stray
O'er naked Snowdon's wide aerial waste ;
Long as the thrush shall pipe on Grongar Hill !
Major restoration work was carried out on the house and gardens around the millennium and continues with new features being added such as the Ninfarium (the name is derived from the gardens of Ninfa south of Rome) or indoor garden, opened in 2005, contained within the walls of the house and courtyard and covered with a glass atrium. The Ninfarium contains a selection of warm temperate and sub tropical plants such as the orchid at the base of the page.
The Pond would have been used for stocking fish. The house was purchased around 1900 by the Mayhew family who were teetotallers and local stories tell of Aberglasney's well stocked wine cellar being emptied into the Pond.
The gardens have won a number of awards and there is an excellent restaurant overlooking the pool garden as well as accommodation in two cottages in the grounds. Further information including details of opening hours is available on the Aberglasney Gardens web site.
The Cloister Garden is possibly unique today as it is a survivor of the Elizabethan style of formal raised terraces that have elsewhere been destroyed by the 18th century landscapers who dictated a more open parkland view.
The Upper Walled Garden would have been used for growing fruit and vegetables but has now been designed using an old practice of concentric ovals in an oblong garden. The designer was Penelope Hobhouse.
An Orchid in the Ninfarium
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