Sunday, 9 May 2010

National Botanic Garden of Wales (1) - The Glasshouse

Today is my birthday, and I celebrated it with a visit to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, near Carmarthen. The weather was wonderful, and there were fewer visitors there than I expected, which may not have been good for the garden's finances, but which allowed me to have a much nicer visit!

The Botanic Garden is relatively new, and was in such financial difficulties a few years ago that it was almost forced to close. These days, much of the upkeep of the gardens is done by volunteers. The setting of the garden is amongst the gentle rolling rounded hills of Carmarthenshire, and the great Glasshouse, designed by Norman Foster, settles into the landscape beautifully, looking from a distance like a rounded glass hill.

The glasshouse has several entrances, and the birds also have access as they fly in and out through the windows.

Many of the individual panes are over a ton in weight, and could not have been made using traditional methods - this truly is a building for the 21st century. It seems much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.

The interior of the glasshouse has been set quite deep into the hill, and has room for several levels, and includes two waterfall walls and a pond full of fish.

The glasshouse allows the garden to grow and display plants from all around the world which wouldn't survive the cool wet Welsh climate. It is divided into 'zones' - Africa, Australasia, America, and maybe others I didn't notice the signs for. There are some spectacularly large plants inside - I have no idea what this one is!

A 'kangaroo paw' from Australia - there were several varieties of this plant, which is one of my favourites - I'll share some close up images in the next post.

Another mysterious spike of a plant:

I took WAY too many photographs during my visit, I'll spread them over a few posts, to share the gardens with you over the next few days.


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