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The Botanic Garden of Wales in the Rain – part two.

Welcome back to South Wales where we were enjoying a very wet visit to the Botanic Gardens. In part one we looked at the magnificent glasshouse before taking a break. In part two we carry on in the heavy rain. Winding paths provided us with interesting routeways through the newly planted gravel and rock borders full of interesting foliage all glistening with rain droplets.

The black seed heads of an Eryngium looked in sharp contrast to the pale blue-grey foliage of the Euphorbia close behind.  A beautiful oak bench of the simplest design was far too wet to enjoy sitting on. Wet rocks looked full of colour – in the dry they would have been almost monochrome. Grasses always look so good with rock!

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Grass borders with every blade moving in waves like a rough sea are here edged with the neatest of low Box hedging. A bench of modern design looked so good against the Box and grasses. Trees in near silhouette looked good against biscuit coloured grasses.

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We got soaked through on our walk towards the walled garden but I was still tempted to stop to take a few shots of grasses and my favourite Betulas and some more simple oak block seating.

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Jude, aka Mrs Greenbench aka The Undergardener, thought she looked good in this throne! It was a pity her feet didn’t reach the ground – it spoiled the illusion somewhat! It was hard to get her off it! The throne sat under an oak framed arbor with a slate floor, both local materials. Drawings of dragons were etched into some of the slate.

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Once in the walled garden, a unique double-walled garden in fact, we enjoyed seeing what the local school children had been up to on their plots. A beautiful bug hotel, a greenhouse made from recycled drinks bottles and an ingenious method comfrey feed all held our interest in spite of the rain.

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Once inside the tropical glasshouse we certainly warmed up but my glasses and camera lens both misted up. It took a while for us and the camera to acclimatise. When we did, we were enthralled by foliage of all shapes and sizes, many patterned and textured. Just enjoy the photos.

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The few blooms present were bright and gaudy!

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When we last visited this garden these old Victorian range of glasshouses were covered in scaffolding so it was great to see they had been renovated and planted up. While the modern curved glasshouse houses temperate plants we were pleased to have discovered the contrast with these old ones housing their tropical plants. It was hot and very humid! The variety of planting was impressive!

The only trouble with the comfort we felt inside the glasshouse was that when we left we had to return to the reality of the wet, cold Welsh weather.

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The Botanic Garden of Wales in the Rain – part one

We have come to love visiting gardens in the rain. We put up the brollies and huddle together for protection and just defy the downpours. But on a November day at The Botanic Gardens of Wales the rain was so heavy it beat even us! It was horrendous! This beautiful piece of sculpture managed to glow out in the gloom. It looked like the bark of a tree or the structure of ivy climbing a wall or …….. whatever you wish.

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We did though enjoy a little time in the rain but soon escaped by making for the magnificent glasshouse. The glasshouse emerges from the gently sloping landscape like an armadillo. On this visit it was barely visible against the low deep grey clouds.

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Once inside, the curving lines spanning overhead immediately drew our eyes upward. When architects get greenhouses right they can be dramatic and powerful but still gentle and full of beautiful curves. This is one of the best we have ever visited if not the best of all. It looks so good from both inside and out. From the outside it emerges from the countryside as if it is meant to be there, enhancing the undulation it sits on. From inside it cocoons the visitor in an atmosphere of warmth and greenery.

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The plant life housed there sits happily in micro-climates made for them. Greenhouse often seem to contain big blousie blooms with too much colour and all full of drama but here things had a subtle beauty. Very stylish. Often the colours were very delicate.

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Bright colours weren’t altogether absent though with plenty of fiery oranges and gaudy pinks. We were taken aback by the size of this Leonotis as it soared to over head height alongside the path. At home in our garden we get it to grow to about two feet tall.

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Blue flowers are often not a pure blue but these definitely were as blue as could possibly be.

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We enjoyed studying the foliage here as much as the flowers, with so much variation in size, colour, texture and shape.

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This Robin was enjoying reading the info on this sign but we were more impressed by those signs which relied on simple symbols demarcating each zone.

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We were amused when we came across this warning triangle, not the usual red unfriendly type found on roadsides but a green edged warning that gardeners were at work. The gardeners were very friendly ones too!

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After wandering around the giant glasshouse absorbed in the beauty of plants from around the temperate world we deserved our lunch break. We shared our break with our red-breasted friend who seemed to have followed us from the glasshouse.

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Some original and colourful craftwork graced the foyer. This piece was created using broken pottery shards. Join us in part two when we braved the heavy rain for as long as we could.

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