A couple of days ago my mam asked me on her day off work, seeing as the afternoon was meant to be dry, what if we went to the National Botanic Garden of Wales? We’d been talking about it as something that I wanted to do if we had a nice day, as I’d actually never visited. I could’ve sworn it had opened when I was away at university, but it turned out that it had opened in July 2000 – when I was 14!
It’s a short journey from my hometown of Carmarthen, down the double carriageway, in the grounds of an old mansion which burned down in 1931 – Middleton Hall. Some of the other buildings are still standing, such as the staff’s quarters; and the stables which now house a restaurant, gift shop and gallery.
The most striking attraction at the Garden is the Great Glasshouse – the largest of its kind in the world! It houses plants from different parts of the world, including Australia, South Africa, California; and much to my delight, the Mediterranean Basin. And with the tropical temperature inside the dome it was like being back in the Italian summer!
There are also areas of the Garden which reflect the history of of the mansion – such as the kitchen garden, and the apothecary garden. The kitchen garden is part of the pretty Double Walled Garden, which was originally built 200 years ago.
One of my favourite areas was the Japanese Garden. With its running water and green leafy plants and trees, it felt very peaceful.
Their latest attraction is a butterfly house – or Plas Pilipala in Welsh! (No, really, ‘pilipala’ is butterfly. Honest.). It only opened this month and was proving to be popular when we visited, especially with families. They’ve transported a part of a tropical jungle to west Wales, and amongst the trees and flowers colourful butterflies have found a home. I love butterflies, and it was beautiful to see them flying around, and to observe all their different colours.
Luckily the weather stayed dry, and it was nice enough for us to enjoy an ice cream! It’s great that there’s such a wonderful attraction on my doorstep!