Aberglasney prepares for the opening of a new woodland garden - with one of the World’s oldest trees
24 Apr 2012
Historic Aberglasney Gardens in Carmarthenshire are a hive of activity this week as head gardener Joseph Atkin and his team complete work on a new woodland garden, one of the most exciting projects in the gardens in recent years.
The ‘Jubilee Woodland Garden’ will be officially opened at 11.00am on Saturday April 28th by The Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, The Honourable Robin Lewis OBE. A number of guests have also been invited to this special occasion, including Bishop of St David’s, Rt Revd Wyn Evans, and new Archdeacon of Carmarthen The Reverend Canon Roger Hughes.
Work on developing the new woodland garden began last year, and at a time when the focus has been very much on making our gardens drought resistant the challenge in this area was rather different. It will display collections of plants suitable for the wetter garden, as it combines both heavy clay and a high water table.
Speaking ahead of the opening Joseph Atkin explained how various drainage systems have been installed including trenches, deep cultivation and root respiration rings for woody plants. He said; “This area now boasts an extensive collections of Iris, Hosta, Ferns and 100 strong drifts of Meconopsis – a striking blue flower related to the poppy. Additionally the area will display a range of mid and late summer flowering woodlanders.” Mr Atkin added that, “late summer is a notoriously tricky time of the year for woodland interest – but I enjoy a challenge!”
The ‘star’ of the ‘Jubilee Woodland Garden’ however, is a tree that’s been dubbed “a living fossil”. Wollemia nobilis (Wollemi pine) represents the only remaining member of an ancient genus dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, over 65 million years ago. This fascinating tree was only discovered in 1994, causing great excitement in the botanical and horticultural worlds.
The species is today threatened by the small size and limited range of its population, which is intrinsically at risk from any chance event that may occur, such as fire or the spread of disease. The Wollemi pine is protected in Australia and the population is located within the Wollemi Pine National Park, where this fragile population is managed to ensure the species remains viable in the long-term. Such a fascinating tree may have much to reveal about ancient species that were previously known only from fossils. Its planting in Carmarthenshire is a great example of the vital role that historic gardens like Aberglasney have to play in the preservation of biodiversity.
The sense of occasion will be added to with a Spring Gardening Fair taking place across the whole weekend (Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th from 10.00am – 6.00pm) - with Aberglasney’s famous cloister garden filled with a superb range of gardening related stalls. You can also expect plenty of musical entertainment! Normal admission prices will apply.