Friday, 2 November 2012

Powis, and the terraces Capability Brown said should be dynamited



Today I met with what we call the Directors of Large Gardens at Prowis Castle, near Welshpool, in Wales. These 'directors' are the head of horticulture at places like the National Trust (of Scotland, and of the bits of the UK not in Scotland), Royal Horticultural Society, English Heritage, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Eden Project, and good old Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

So that's who we we were. Where we are is even more interesting. In a land of fantastic hedges and yet more bloody autumn colours. Of course I like the autumn colours but they become achingly familiar. Hedges are my favourite today.


Castell a Gardd Powis, as we call it in these parts, is worth a visit if you are in these parts. The castle dates back to the 12th century and the yew hedges to the 17th. Since 1680 horticulturists have tried to tame the hedges, but they have persistently ballooned out into the evocative shapes you can see here.


Between the hedges are lovely perennial borders and plenty of autumnal trees. Then there is the orchard, of apple trees a mere century old but already covered in lichen and merging into this striking landscape.


Apparently Capability Brown was offended by the highly ordered terraces and suggested, when asked, that they be dynamited and replaced with one of his artificially created natural landscapes of clumped trees separated by grazing sheep. All very nice but not everywhere, and not here.

But back to the hedges. Imagine how these were clipped before the days of automated cherry pickers and electric shears. Well, you don't have to. Take at look at this picture held by David Swanton, Curator of Prowis. The ladders are 'secured' by a couple of bricks at the base and lean onto the Yew hedge at the top.


Enjoy these  pictures of a truly original and fun garden.


2 comments:

Kirk Dale said...

Dear Tim,
I enjoyed this post.
A particularly nice place to have a conference I should think!
My people come from this part of England and although I have been in the area many times, I have never visited Powis. I shall in Shropshire during the Christmas Hols and having seen your post I think we might be go there too!
I love autumn and the colours that accompany it however I do know what you mean: You can become somewhat blasé about it all when you are seeing them all the time and the element of delighted surprise is somewhat muted after a while; although having said that, once in a while you see something that knocks your socks off!
Kirk

Tim Entwisle said...

I agree. While I was feeling a little overdosed on autumn colour that day, something always sneaks up on you to remind you how beautiful they really are. I'm continuing my travels in Wales now and further south most of the trees are bare. Although now I miss the colour...the skeletal trees have their own wintery beauty.
Tim