Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Garden Visit, Hamamelis and the Robin

I was attempting to photograph a flowering Witch Hazel when a friendly Robin decided to steal the show.  This photograph was taken last weekend at the National Botanic Garden of Wales which is offering free admission throughout January. 

I had only visited the garden once before, around eight years ago to be precise, when the garden was in its infancy.  I was sixteen or seventeen at the time and distinctly remember being unimpressed with the garden.  New planting, underdeveloped areas and the over bearing "under construction" feel that the garden oozed all contributed.  On the second visit it was a relief that the garden has matured somewhat and although there is not a great amount to see at this time of year it is possible to imagine how the garden would look in leaf.  

When I originally visited the garden one of my favourite features in the garden was the natural art installation which depicted a living room arrangement of furniture under an old Oak tree which, left to the elements, was slowly going back to nature with plants and animals moving in.  This included Ivy which was slowly winding its way up an old wodden floor lamp.  This outdoor space has since been removed unlike other more permanent attractions.  

The Great Glasshouse, which dominates the garden, was the main draw when the garden opened as not only was it a great piece of architecture but it offered the public an opportunity to view plants from temperate regions of the world.  Aside from some beautiful plants I strongly remember hating a large algae covered wall which is part of the main water feature within the dome.  To this day the same feature irritates me and although surrounding plants now help to distract the eye it has been made worse with the addition of goldfish to the shallow pool below. 

The garden continues to develop and improve with age.   The double walled garden is complete and a tropical house added, which were not there eight years ago.  Both look very promising although I did not have the time to explore them fully.  I intend to visit again in the Summer to spend more time in the garden and see it in its full blazing glory.

Have you visited the garden?  What was your experience like?


  1. Interesting follow up visit. But you still sound underwhelmed!
    I have never been and really must do so and maybe review for thinkingardens.
    Great photo with Robin-looks like you have mastered the new camera!
    Best Wishes

  2. Dear Ryan, I have read this account of your visit to The National Botanic Garden of Wales with interest. For reasons unknown, a visit to it has never appealed to me and even now, after your balanced comment, I feel somewhat the same. Architecturally, the large glasshouse has a rival, to my mind, in the Underground station at Canary Wharf [on the Jubilee Line] designed by Norman Foster.

    The robin is enchanting.

  3. I love your robin picture, so clear, and the glasshouse is amazing. No I haven't visited, but I would love to do so.

  4. Hi Ryan, thanks for sharing your visit. The robin is indeed worthy to be included in the witch hazel shot, they complement each other well. That algae would bug me too.

  5. Hi Ryan,

    Brilliant photo!

    The garden doesn't sound too great, maybe you will be more enthused after a summer visit and a bit more of a nose around?

  6. Lovely robin pic. I also love the lichen on the hamamelis.

    Your Welsh robins are so cute, different from our huge N. American ones. I had really wanted to see this garden when I was in Wales in 2008. Missed it unfortunately. The glass house is very intriguing.

  7. Thanks for your comments they are very kind.

    I must add that this most recent visit was a bit of a rushed job as I had another engagement to attend. I think that at this time of year there is nothing really that stands out as a conversation piece that isn't evident in other gardens or hasn't been discussed before. I was a little underwhelmed plant-wise as there was little else other than snowdrops and witch hazel to see. Progress wise, eight years on, it had improved but there are still a few areas that need work.

    I would like to do a full review in the Summer when the garden is in its full glory and do it justice.


  8. Great picture, Ryan! Just beautiful in every way.

  9. I always forget that your robins in the UK are different from ours, but we definitely share a fondness for hamamelis. My Arnold Promise is just beginning to show colour in its buds, while Diane says thanks, but she's still sleepy. Excellent photo of both subjects!

  10. Dear Ryan,

    I visit the Botanic Garden of Wales every time I'm in Wales to visit family, this is roughly once a year. In the same day I also visit Aberglasney. Both these gardens have grown in interest over the last 10 years and have served to remind me the importance of the passage of time and patience in making a garden. I'm trying desperately to come up with a word that could be added to Edith's 5D's of Great Gardens in this regard, and have come up with nothing- Decade? Destiny? Well perhaps just a T.

  11. A great photo Ryan! You must be having fun with your new camera.


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