Whether you’re a keen gardener or someone who just appreciates the tranquillity of a beautiful garden, North Wales is the perfect destination for a horticultural break with an abundance of picturesque and award winning gardens.
This year is the Year of the Garden in the UK, and to celebrate North Wales is holding its own Garden Festival from Saturday 28 May to Sunday 5 June. More than 100 events are planned for the Festival including musical concerts, historical re-enactments, gardening lectures, photographic workshops and art and sculpture exhibitions. There will also be behind-the-scenes tours, children’s trails, poetry and prose, plant sales and competitions.
Described as one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, Bodnant Garden is one of the highlights of the Festival. A short drive from The Imperial, this world-famous National Trust garden is noted for its botanical collections from all over the world, as well as magnificent throngs of rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias and its famous Laburnum Arch. The Arch, at 180-ft long and smothered in long, elegant hanging flowers of purest yellow in May, was recently named as the best Laburnum in the Daily Mail’s 100 Glories of Britain, and with the gardens idyllic setting above the River Conwy visitors also get extensive and spectacular views of Snowdonia.
Two other impressive National Trust gardens are Penrhyn Castle at Bangor which boasts a Walter Speed Walled Garden, fuschia walkways, woodland walks and ongoing restoration of Lady Sybil’s Water Garden; and Plas Newydd on Anglesey which sits majestically on the shores of the Menai Strait. Plas Newydd’s gardens include an Australasian arboretum, an Italianate terraced garden and extensive woodland walks plus an adventure playground, treehouse and Frisbee golf to keep the little visitors entertained! Anglesey is also home to Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens which is a restored two acre formal Walled Garden with pool, Valley Gardens and woodland with an abundance of red squirrels.
If you prefer your gardens on the wild side then the Welsh Mountain Zoo with tigers, monkeys, ostriches, penguins, chimps and sea lions is well worth a visit. Set on the site of the historic Flagstaff Gardens estate, you can wander around the gardens which now house an array of animals as well as stunning woodland and beautiful gardens with flowers and plants from across the globe.
A short drive from the Zoo takes you to Britain’s largest maze in the Conwy Valley. The Conwy Valley Maze covers over two acres and while appealing to all ages, for garden lovers its uniqueness lies in the individual secret gardens waiting to be discovered within the maze.
Closer to home and only a short walk from The Imperial, guests can visit two CADW listed gardens on the Great Orme. With spectacular views down over the Pier and across Llandudno Bay, Happy Valley Gardens offers meandering paths crossing through small pools, shrubs, flowers and trees, while Haulfre Gardens allows you to walk through the remains of terraced gardens designed by the founder of Bodnant Garden.
While the Festival only runs for 10 days these gardens are open all year round, which are complemented by an array of stunning private gardens that open their gates to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme. As spectacular as many of the official gardens, these open at various times of the year – search for gardens in North East Wales and Gwynedd/Anglesey on the Scheme’s county map for a full listing.
It’s not only the wonderful and at times breathtaking landscapes that distinguishes these gardens from others in the UK but also North Wales’ unique climate that enables you to see many plants you won’t see anywhere else in Britain, and with our Special Breaks you are guaranteed a truly magical horticulture holiday.