Aberglasney National Botanic Gardens

Introduction

Welcome to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the first national botanic garden to be created in the new millennium.This year (2007)is our seventh birthday. In such a short time, we have developed into one of the most fascinating gardens in the UK. Already we have the most visited garden in Wales, we were voted number 1 wonder of Wales by the Western Mail and are helping to conserve some of the rarest plants in the world.

Vision & Mission
The National Botanic Garden of Wales exists to develop a viable world-class national botanic garden dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable utilisation, to lifelong learning and to the enjoyment of the visitor.

Funding
We are a registered charity which exists without regular funding from any governmental organisation.
Most of our revenue comes from gate receipts, sales, facilities hire and our vibrant Garden membership scheme. We gratefully accept donations from individuals and organisations and are constantly on the look out for grants and sponsorship. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported us so far - they have really helped us operate, plant and develop the Garden.

Plant conservation & Research
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is currently involved in 3 plant conservation projects.
Working with the National Museum of Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales, the Garden is collecting the seeds of, and propagating, some of Wales's rarest plants. These include Britain's rarest and most critically-endangered trees, the Ley's Whitebeam (Sorbus leyana) and a hawkweed that only grows naturally on rocks around a single waterfall in the Brecon Beacons.

The Garden's estate is managed as a low intensity organic farm. Its flocks of sheep and herds of Black Welsh cattle are controlled to conserve and increase the range of many rare and nationally declining native wild plants and fungi. These include the greater butterfly orchid, whorled caraway and waxcap fungi.

The Great Glasshouse, the Garden's iconic visitor attraction which houses plants from the Earth's Mediterranean climatic regions, doubles up as a refuge for some of the world's rarest plants. An example of this is McCutcheon's Grevillea (Grevillea maccutcheonii). Five years ago, there were only 10 of these small Western Australian shrubs left in the wild, all growing together in one small patch.
One of these plants was micropropagated at King's park Botanic Garden in Perth, Western Australia and sent to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in 1999. Visitors to the Great Glasshouse saw its lovely red and yellow flowers for the first time in 2003.

Education
We want every visitor to leave the Garden with a sense that they've learnt a little bit more about the world and how to live a little more sustainably on it. Our visitors might discover that plants are more interesting than first thought, that Welsh plants have an important role to play in medicine or that organic gardening might be worth a try. Youngsters may realise that some plants smell funny, carrots grow in the soil , raspberries can be yellow or that recycled CDs make a great Christmas tree decoration. We welcome hundreds of schools here every year. They have a wide choice of courses to select from, based around the National Curriculum and Curriculum Cymraeg, from Tedwen's Adventure for early years to Everyday Choices at secondary school level. We provide what we term "essential environmental education experiences" for all pupils who visit us, in either English or in Welsh. The Garden has a team of professionals and volunteers to help teachers, both here and at school, make the most of the Garden's enormous potential.

There is also plenty of structured learning for older students. Since 2004, Coleg Sir Gar provides on site training for horticulture students and, for several years, the Garden has worked with the University of Wales. This has opened up many undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities to study subjects from biological sciences to art, design and architecture.

Adults not in formal education will find a choice of short-term /leisure courses here, from basic computer training to willow weaving, herbal medicine and woodturning. During school holidays, families have the chance to learn together on a variety of seasonal family fun activities.

To keep up to date with our courses, you can join our Mailing List, ring us on 01554 667150 or visit our Courses page on our website.

The Garden exists to inspire visitors to care a little bit more about plants and the natural world. We hope we've helped to inspire you.

History
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is situated on land whose history as an estate stretches back over 400 years.
The estate derives its name from the Middleton family, from Chirk Castle near Oswestry, who built a mansion here in the early 1600s. Three generations later the estate passed, via marriage, to the Gwyn family of Gwempa who were eventually forced to sell Middleton Hall in 1776 to pay off debts.

Thirteen years later William Paxton bought the Middleton estate for £40,000 and began its great transformation into a water park. Although born in Scotland to a modest family in 1744, Paxton had made a fortune by the age of forty-two while working as Master of the Mint in Bengal and acting as an Agent. He used his great wealth to employ some of the finest creative minds of his day, including the eminent architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell, who he commissioned to design and build a new Middleton Hall after turning the original one into a farm. This new Middleton Hall became ‘one of the most splendid mansions in South Wales’ which ‘far eclipsed the proudest of the Cambrian mansions in Asiatic pomp and splendour’. The original Double Walled Garden, its glass Peach House, and the Ice House and Stable Block were also built during Paxton’s time.


With the help of surveyor Samuel Lapidge and engineer James Grier, Paxton created an ingenious water park. Water flowed around the estate via an elaborate ‘necklace’ system of interconnecting lakes, ponds and streams linked by a network of dams, sluices, bridges and cascades. Paxton was delighted to discover mineral-rich chalybeate springs on his land, and immediately built bathhouses, complete with furnace rooms to heat water for hot baths. Spring water was stored in uphill reservoirs that fed into a lead cistern on the mansion’s roof, allowing Paxton’s residence to enjoy piped running water and the very latest luxury, water closets.

Paxton also left his mark beyond his estate. He established public baths in Tenby, a water supply for Carmarthen and built Paxton’s Tower, the tall folly overlooking the Tywi Valley, in tribute to his friend Admiral Lord Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Knighted in 1803, Paxton died in 1824, aged eighty.


Middleton Estate, which was described in a 19th century sale catalogue as ‘richly ornamented by nature, and greatly improved by art’ was maintained for decades after Paxton’s death, largely by the Adams family, but it fell into severe decline in the early 20th century. The mansion, empty and silent, burnt down in 1931. The untended grounds melted back into the natural landscape and water drained from the lakes. Carmarthen County Council bought the land and divided it into seven farming plots. In 1978, a scheme was set up to restore parts of the park for public access, and in the 1980s, parts of the ornamental watercourses in the woods of Pont Felin Gat were repaired.


The idea for a National Botanic Garden of Wales originated from the Welsh artist, William Wilkins, whose aunt had described to him the ruins of an elaborate water features she had discovered while walking in the woods of Pont Felin Gat.

The Royal Botanic Garden of Kew, Dyfed County Council, the Welsh Development Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales and Welsh Tourist Board all gave their support. Under the guidance of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, an application was made to the Millennium Commission to fund Britain’s first national botanic garden for 200 years. The Garden opened its doors to the public for the first time on 24 May 2000, and on 21 July celebrated its ‘official’ opening when HRH The Prince of Wales unveiled a slate plaque.

Opening times 2007-2008
We are open every day, apart from Christmas Day 02 March 2007 – 28 October 2007 10.00am – 6.00pm
29 October 2007 – 29 February 2008 10.00am – 4.30pm

SUMMER Admission Prices (until OCTOBER 29)
Adults £8.00
OAPS £6.00
Children (5-16) £3.00
Under 5s Free!!
Family (2 Adults & 4 children) £17



WINTER Admission Prices (until FEBRUARY 29)
Adults £5.00
OAPS £3.00
Children (5-16) free
Under 5s Free!!
Family (2 Adults & 4 children)

The Art Gallery
School of rock
Microscopic wonders of nature will be revealed in a new exhibition at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

‘Formations: images from rocks’ features striking details of minerals and stone captured using the latest digital technologies by Richard Weston, professor of architecture at Cardiff University.

The exhibition runs from 22 August in the Garden’s Courtyard Gallery.

Ranging in scale from wall-sized panels to small framed pictures, and printed on a variety of media including fine silk, paper and ceramic tiles, the images range from beguiling abstract compositions to seemingly naturalistic land- and seascapes.

Professor Weston has had a lifelong interest in patterns in nature and the still recalls the first project he undertook at architecture school – a visual analysis of a leaf.
He said: “Nature works at the molecular scale, and the images that emerge when we scan at high magnification are incredible. Many look like works of art, but have remained hidden for millennia.”

As well as making limited-edition prints, Professor Weston is exploring how these patterns can be used in high-quality bespoke products. Fashion students at the University of Wales, Newport have already produced experimental dresses, dubbed ‘frocks from rocks’.

Other possibilities include upholstery or hangings; architectural materials, such as tiles and glass; carpets and rugs, as well as pictures on paper and canvas.

He added: “As an architect I am used to the idea of working for individual clients, not designing for mass production, and I am sure this individuality will again become more and more accessible in all areas of design as digital production becomes widespread.”

Digital technology will make exclusive products more affordable, with design costs reduced by the use of natural ‘designs’, and the customer able to exercise their own creativity in determining which image – or part of an image – will be used. By making to order, the process also eliminates waste.

A high quality coffee-table book, Formations: Images from Rocks, by Richard Weston, reproduces 130 of the most stunning patterns and will be available from the Garden’s bookshop.

A well known architectural writer, Richard Weston began his academic career in Cardiff in 1982 and returned there in 1999. He edits Architectural Research Quarterly and his books include a Sir Banister Fletcher prize-winning monograph on Alvar Aalto and the only authorised account of the work of the architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon. More recently he published the critically acclaimed Materials, Form and Architecture.

Richard Weston is also known as a practising designer and has exhibited on several occasions in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – most recently, the designs for a large sundial, made for a client in Cardiff. Radiant House, designed for the FutureWorld exhibition at Milton Keynes, has been described as “one of the most striking and innovative houses built in Britain in the last twenty years.”

He added: “After many years concentrating on writing I am delighted to be making things again and hope to integrate the images into future architectural projects – clients, or ideally patrons, permitting!”

Alongside his academic and professional work, Richard serves as a trustee of Public Art Wales and for several years was a member of the Garden’s Arts Committee. He has made many appearances on national and local radio and is in regular demand as a speaker at a wide variety of events.

The Garden – and the Gallery - is open every day between 10am and 6pm

Richard Weston’s images can be viewed online at Naturally exclusive.com




Ongoing exhibitions
Nikki Cass
‘Colour has always been an important element in my work, creating an intuitive evocative rhythm’.
Nikki Cass’ glass work is based on the exploration of natural and urban landscape. Bold abstract colours, expressive paint-marks and related forms are built up like layers of time. Nikki’s work incorporates painting, casting and fusing techniques.
Nikki’s work can be found in the restaurant and is for sale.

To find out more about Nikki's work, go to Nikkicass.com
Her telephone number is 01792 290502




 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015