The National Botanic Garden of Wales. 14.07.13

The wonderful summer weather has continued for our jaunt into Wales. Gloria hates it and the motor car is festooned with sun shades of various descriptions. She does not wear sun creams because she refuses to smell like a coconut following an incident when she was young, but in extreme circumstances she will coat any exposed skin with river minerals imported from the Gambia.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is becoming more mature with every visit we make. These large rocks looked like builders rubble when they were first put in place but they are blending in to the new planting admirably.

There are a number of plants that stood out in the gardens on this visit. Dianthus barbatus 'Sooty' has marvellous dark red flowers and purple foliage that add depth to almost any planting. It is not uncommon, and easily grown but it was delightful used repeatedly through the gardens.

I was pleased to find that Gloria had taken a picture of the lovely Swiss Chard growing in the walled garden. It always looks so good that it can only be a disappointment to eat.

The original buildings of the estate sit at the top of the hill. This one has now become a gallery, shop and cafe.

Perhaps this is the year for annual meadows. For many years the sowing of annual meadows was a rather feeble affair but last year I saw a couple of really good ones, and this year every garden worth the name has produced one.

It would be impossible to visit the gardens without spending time in the great glasshouse. It was the first major project to be undertaken when the gardens were founded and it has set an iconic style for the whole place. It is difficult to imagine what the gardens would have become without it.

This great heap of forms of Campanula lactiflora shows the plant at its very best. Where it is suited it is quite wonderful and though the white and pink forms are fascinating, it is the deepest blues that left us both speechless.

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