Gardens Illustrated

A richly planted garden

Published: October 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

A six-acre patch of wilderness in the Pembrokeshire countryside is now a stylised yet naturalistic garden with a strong connection to the ancient landscape in which it sits.

In brief
Name Dyffryn Fernant Garden
What Private country garden, open to the public
Where Pembrokeshire, west Wales
Size Six acres in all, of which three are gardened
Climate Atlantic - mild but blowy, although sheltered from prevailing winds
Hardiness rating USDA 9a


Being on the west coast of Wales, the garden at Dyffryn Fernant could feel bleakly open to the elements, but it is enclosed by small, hedge-parcelled fields typical of this area, plus winters are mild. Christina Shand and David Allum arrived here 24 years ago – to an abandoned garden, totally choked with weeds. Today, the garden is intensely cultivated and stylised up by the house – there are vibrant and bold agapanthus, dahlias and salvias – and every possible little niche seems to have something growing in it. Looking the other way, outwards towards the open landscape, the garden grows more naturalistic and there are big masses of rather wild-looking perennials, grasses and what are clearly wildflowers seeping in from the surroundings.

Silver balls of clipped Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Irene Paterson' help lead the eye through the Rickyard area, which is dominated by tulips in spring and Verbena bonariensis in summer.

The gardens by the house are full of colourful dahlias, tender salvia species and later-flowering perennials such as Persicaria amplexicaulis.

The Rickyard garden, where pink tufts of Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum Group 'Riesenschirm' dominate the mid-ground and spires of Chamaenerion angustifolium 'Album' add a splash of white beyond.

Wildflowers are welcomed into the garden. This blurs the boundaries between landscape and garden, connecting local plant communities

In this area close to the house, a sculpture by Jon Cleal is framed by a crimson glory vine, Vitis coignetiae, scrambling over a holiday cottage. The exuberant orange-bronze Dahlia 'David Howard' to the right adds to the colour.

The Courtyard garden, with swords of Miscanthus sinenesis 'Gracillimus' in the foreground, looks out towards the rocky outcrop of Garn Fawr in the Preseli Hills. Exotic foliage includes Eriobotrya japonica just visible on the left and Melianthus major centre right.

The only management we do on the outer edges is control problem species and mow paths. A few exotic plants remind us this is still a garden

The Magic Garden is sited above the house. From here you can glimpse the coast in one direction. Wildflower-rich meadow grass is dissected by mown paths.

Useful information
Address Dyffryn Fernant Garden, Llanychaer, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire SA65 9SP, Wales
Tel 01348 811282
Open Every day, April to October, 12-6pm


Words: Noel Kingsbury
Photography: Claire Takacs


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