Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Duffryn Gardens (and house)

Actually I wanted to go to the beach. It was Piglet who asked if we could go to Duffryn Gardens

When we first started going, about ten years ago, the house and gardens were just at the start of a major restoration programme. It's been great fun to see how they slowly blossom (ho ho!) with the work that's being done to bring them back to their former glories. 

I'm minded to make our trip the subject of a blogpost because the gardens are so family friendly. 

A host of hostas
Even Piglet and her pal, who are 12, found plenty to do on our day out there. There are often educational events: today's was Fascination of Plants with bioscientists from Cardiff University. Ignoring Piglet's frequently squealed expectation that it would consist of plastic magnifying glasses and a few leaves, I dragged the two of them along to "just see what it's like". The bioscientists expertly tailored their discussion to the ages of children who came along, there was a proper microscope and Piglet and her pal were soon absorbed in extracting DNA from strawberries. (They may have ingested a few strawberries too. I took the opportunity to nip off and sit on a comfy sofa to do some knitting.) 

We walked through the woods where we were delighted to see that the rhododendrons were still out in full flower. 

Then we fetched our picnic, which we ate by the side of the croquet lawn. (People often eat their picnic sitting on the main lawn or under trees around the gardens. You can also eat at tables by the entrance, where there is an activity play park for kids and a café - you don't have to pay and go in to access these.) There are mallets and balls as well as some other lawn games laid out by the house, and Piglet and her pal were able to have a couple of rounds of croquet. They were particularly delighted to hear about the rule that you can knock your opponent's ball with yours, then knock theirs into the far distance. 

Another big draw was always the narrow pool that runs down the middle of the main lawn, with huge koi carp swimming in it. It was too green with algae for photos today, as Duffryn House's ponds are home to the great crested newt and can't be cleaned in spring or autumn. 

Finally we had a wander through the 'garden rooms'. This delightful set of small hedged gardens to the side of the main lawn are perfect for a ramble. Three of them are being restored to the 1920s look, with the guidance of some paintings done at the time. 

We had a wonderful time. However we will have to go back, as we were enjoying the gardens so much, we forgot to go and look round the house.

(There are many wide paths through the Duffryn gardens, making most of them fully accessible to wheelchairs and buggies. The main lawn is perfect for toddlers to play on; there are haha walls which kids can roll down; the woods provide good rambles for older children - take wellies in winter if intending to go into the woods.)

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