Discovering Welsh Gardens
Finalist in Book Photographer of the Year, Garden Media Guild Awards 2009
Explore the gardens and discover their themes in the company of garden writer Stephen Anderton and photographer Charles Hawes. This book discusses the history of gardening in Wales, how the gardens fit into their surrounding landscapes, garden successes and failures. A stimulating and provocative tour of twenty handpicked gardens.
About the Book
Fresh, exciting, lively, this is writing about gardens as you’ve never experienced it before. Gone are the bland descriptions, the clichéd praise, the tedious tour. Instead, opinionated, brave and intelligent pieces raise issues about the gardens concerned and thereby about all gardens of merit, Welsh or not. You don’t need to be planning a trip to Wales to find this book about gardens in Wales an essential read.This book will wake the garden world up.
About the Author
Stephen Anderton is an award-winning journalist, author, broadcaster and lecturer both here and abroad. He writes weekly in The Times and for many magazines and is a founder member of thinkinGardens. Stephen has written a number of books including Rejuvenating a Garden (1998), Urban Sanctuaries (2001) and was a presenter on television for Britain’s Best Back Gardens 2003 and 2004 (ITV). He is currently writing the authorised biography of Christopher Lloyd.
About the Photographer
Charles regularly illustrates articles in Country Life, The English Garden magazine and features for gardening and lifestyle magazines in the UK, Germany, Italy and South Africa. He has won prizes in the Royal Horticultural Society’s photographic competition in 2002, 2003 and 2005. His own garden – Veddw House Garden – is open regularly to the public and has featured in many magazine and newspaper articles. Discovering Welsh Gardens is the first book exclusively using his photographs.
Of Plas Brondanw
Like Hafod, Plas Brondanw needs the chainsaws, scrupulously managed, to let it breathe, and what stands in the way is not just insufficient funding but inappropriate woodland management. What matters here – one of Wales’ most important gardens of any period, or trees which in this part of the world are weeds? It is shameful that this formal garden just about survives and the landscape garden just sits and rots.
Wire stock fencing surrounds a convocation of young topiary pieces, set out in a more or less symmetrical fashion. The soil between them is bare but immaculately hoed. It is a school for topiary pieces, fenced in to stop them running off like piglets. It’s bizarre, fascinating, and delightfully, ruthlessly masculine, just like the rest of the garden.
Of Plas Newydd
There is a freshness and unexpectedness about all of Plas Newydd. The house, when you reach it, has its back to you, eyes on the water. But then, like a sitting hen, it will flap one wing an there to one side is an arboretum; flap the other and there, with all too little relation to the house, are the terraces. Flap a bit harder and you get a rhododendron garden. Each piece of this garden is an island unto itself.
Below these terraces of full-tilt gardening Powis runs into trouble again.. What was once the last three narrow terraces is now a rough grass bank….. It is difficult to mow and it makes a scruffy, inadequate plinth to the grand picture of the castle above it (imagine a Christmas cake sitting in a plate of stew and you get the picture.)
Reviews of Discovering Welsh Gardens
It’s glorious to have a writer who doesn’t hesitate to criticise: ‘The roses themselves, all white, are a disaster,’ of Bodysgallen, and part of Powis Castle is like ‘a Christmas cake sitting in a plate of stew’. If he says something is ‘slightly clumsy to my eye’ he means it’s ghastly.
Sir Roy Strong, Country Life, March 18th 2009
….a superb production with an opinionated and provocative text (I love his idea of turning the giant lawn at Powis Castle into a grass parterre, evoking the baroque water garden that once stood there) and arresting photography by Charles Hawes, whose own garden, Veddw House, is one of the best contemporary gardens in Wales.
Stephen Lacey in the Telegraph 7th March