Today, we travelled from Portmeirion to the town of Welshpool on the Wales-England border to visit the famous garden of the 13th century, Powis Castle.
Powis is not a castle like others we have seen at Harlech and Criccieth; it is more of a grand country mansion that acted as a medieval fortress and has castle-like walls and turrets. Unlike other Welsh castles, such as Conwy and Caernarfon, Powis was not built by the English, but by Welsh princes.
Unfortunately it was raining all the way to the garden and during our first hour there. But then the rain stopped and the sky brightened up.
We started our visit by walking the upper terraces, built in the Italian and French style, with lyrical lead statues of dancing and frolicking musicians on the balustrade and large, handsomely clipped “tumps” – giant yew mounds – against the pink sandstone castle walls.
At the end of the top terrace, we found the magnificent statue of Hercules slaying the Hydra, strategically and majestically positioned against an equally muscular 300-year-old yew hedge with bulging, rippling bumps and heavy, beefy curves.
Against the orangerie, we found a large wisteria in full bloom as well as a corner smothered by a yellow-flowered Banksia rose.
Inside the orangeries, there were containers with a variety of flowering clivia and in another section masses of fragrant white tender rhododendron flowers. Outside, gardeners were in the process of replenishing soil in pots containing lemon trees.
We slowly strolled down the garden, through towering boxwood hedges, past an Empress tree in full bloom and came to the orchard at the bottom.
Here we were impressed by pillars of honeysuckles placed in squares filled with either black mondo grass or spurge or green and white variegated grasses.
In a large walled garden with a spacious lawn we found beautiful walls full of blue ceanothus and a border immaculately planted with white alliums and peonies. This border also had a lovely row of twig cylinders placed to support sweet peas. Very impressive.
The garden offers spectacular views in all directions – from the top looking down to the compartmentalized gardens below and from the bottom looking back up the hill to the Italianate terraces and the castle itself.
Inside the house, we found a bounty of treasures – famous paintings and tapestries and lovely wood panelled rooms containing various artifacts.
From Powis, we went directly to the Nag’s Head for a splendid pub lunch and a few beers before heading back to our very pleasant lodgings at The Village in Portmeirion.
Tomorrow we visit some more gardens and see a little more of Wales before we leave for Dublin.