National Botanic Garden of Wales. 16.02.13

The National Botanic Garden of Wales has a strange magnetism, drawing us west from Bristol. Gloria had been a little indisposed over breakfast and we were late setting out. Around Port Talbot we stopped for a little rest while some gas was released (from the refinery, I should add). We determined to spend the afternoon in the Great Glasshouse rather than rush around like mad old bees trying to do everything.

The Great Greenhouse is a magnificent dome at the top of the hill. It houses an extensive collection of plants from mediterranean climates and it is lovely to meet some old friends again. I was once given a similar object as a wedding gift. A rather cheap cut crystal bowl that made a magnificent jelly mould until I struck it too enthusiastically with a wooden spoon while trying to dislodge a champagne jelly desert.

Mediterranean bulbs are dear to my heart and this lemon yellow form of Narcissus cordubensis charmed us both. It would not prosper outside and even under cover it is better in a raised bed. I can't get down as easily as I once did. As a girl I was made entirely of knees and elbows but in later life I am just the bits between. Gloria stooped for the picture before she had quite recovered from the drive and was quite out of sorts for a moment.

A deep valley has been cut through the greenhouse and at the lowest point is this pool, surrounded by cliffs. Plants in the surrounding beds had become too large in recent years and through the winter they have been cut back or removed to considerable advantage.

A fascinating selection of shrubby Sonchus grows at the top of the cliffs. This is S.palmensis from the Canary Isles in full flower.

Looking down on the pond it is clear that the goldfish are growing larger and fatter with every year. I wouldn't have them in my own garden, I wouldn't want the reponsibility, but I always enjoy seeing them in other peoples ponds. Gloria isn't good with living things.

There are a great many Protea from South Africa represented in the collection. Rather more plants than identifying labels at present which is a pity, but this is P.aurea. I don't recall seeing it in flower anywhere before.

There are some lovely small Australians. This is an orange flowered form of Correa pulchella that was new to me. I know the pink form that dangles from the bush like a pixies willy-warmer but Gloria says I mustn't mention it again. I just thought it was rather jolly.

The greenhouse is a shinimg bubble of delight, a nosegay of summer in a crystal corset. We had a lovely afternoon and stopped for some supper on the way back. I only had a single glass of wine but it has had its way with me and I apologise.

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