The setting for the newest botanical garden in Europe is stunning.  The National Botanic Garden of Wales is set across 568 acres of the eighteenth-century Middleton Hall in the Carmarthenshire countryside.

As we walked through the entrance we were told about the special events occurring for Mother’s Day including a food and craft fayre where the winner of The Apprentice 2016, Alana Spencer, would be showcasing products from her brand-new business.


As you walk from the Gatehouse along the 220m long avenue which divides the Garden known as the Broadwalk you catch your first glimpse of the great glasshouse nestling in the hillside on the horizon.



The meandering colourful pathway took us past several fascinating water features, which the girls loved jumping over. As we made the climb up the hill toward the glasshouse we explored the Rock of Ages, which was a geological display spanning 300 million years of Welsh history, it was really interesting to see rocks that were so old.


As you enter the glasshouse you appreciate just how big and beautiful it is. The Great Glasshouse was designed by Norman Foster and is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world containing the largest collection of Mediterranean plants in the Northern Hemisphere.


You could feel the instant temperature change as we explored the beautiful plants on display from six areas of the world : California, Australia, the Canary Islands, Chile, South Africa, and the Mediterranean.

The girls thought they were in a tropical jungle with birds flying over us and they loved exploring and learning about the plants we encountered as we crossed bridges, looked at the waterfalls and watched the fish from the boardwalk and the pebble beach.

During our visit was a craft and food fayre around the perimeter of the glasshouse, and the girls in particular had great fun exploring the stalls and buying organic bath bombs and soaps and local Narberth fudge.


We came across , Ridiculously Rich by Alana, the winner of the BBC Apprentice 2016 show and her chocolate brownies were just delicious, I can see why Lord Sugar chose her business as the winner of the programme.

Within the exhibition space at the Glasshouse what caught our eye was the large lit up signage called ‘Amazing Fungi’. As we entered we found a forest of super-sized toadstools, glow in the dark mushrooms and more.

Although it didn’t sound that exciting, we found this touring exhibition from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh really interesting and incredibly well put together. There were interactive activities for the girls to take part in and learn how essential fungi are for the survival of life on earth.




Leaving the Great Glasshouse we made our way to the impressive Ghost Forest which has come from the tropical rain forests of Ghana. These tree roots have made their way to the gardens via Trafalgar Square, to the Earth Summit in Copenhagen and Oxford University from UK based artist Angela Palmer. It was so much fun exploring and climbing the giant tree roots, we couldn’t get over the size of each tree roots on display.

What was so great about the Botanical Gardens was the amount of open space for the girls to run around, explore and have fun. During our visit in Spring the Daffodil trail was in full bloom with over 30,000 daffodils and 50 daffodil varieties in the gardens.


We made our way down to the Millennium square area via the Boulder Gardens which was full of Mediterranean plants which led to the new play park area.


The play area was a big hit with girls, featuring everything that would keep a child happy including swings, zip wire, trampoline a roundabout and more. There was also an area for toddlers to play.

Another fantastic area for children was Fairy Wood. As you walk amongst the trees you come across signs of the fairy residents of the wood, along with a toadstool village and fairy tea party.

On the day we visited Pembrokeshire Falconry has an exhibition on at Millennium Square, which was really exciting. The girls had the chance to hold an owl, and seeing the look on my youngest daughter’s face as it was perched on her little arm was priceless.

The Butterfly House or Plas Pilipala(Welsh for Butterfly House) was another fantastic area that the girls really enjoyed. As we walked into the hot and steamy glasshouse it was so much fun to spot so many colourful butterflies from across the tropical world flying around you or landing on you.

Just outside of the walled gardens was the serene Japanese Garden. This miniature world with mountains, forests, lakes and oceans was just beautiful to stop and relax. It also contains the national flowers of Japan and Wales – the cherry tree and daffodil.


There was a good choice of family friendly places to eat at the Botanical Gardens from Seasons Restaurant, located in the Stable Block, the Mediterranean Café in the Great Glasshouse and Y Pot Blodyn Garden Centre serving locally made and sourced food and drinks.

As we made our way toward the exit my daughter thought she spotted a monster cave on the hillside, but the small stone arch was in fact an ice house which was built at the end of the 18th century to service Middleton Hall.


Overall

I highly recommend a visit to the National Botanical Gardens Wales, you won’t be disappointed

It’s been a few years since we last visited the Botanical Gardens of Wales, and there are now many more attractions such as the butterfly house, new play park, fairy wood and the ghost forest that make it a great place for a family day out.

With plenty of open space for children to run and explore, there was also lots of fun things to learn about and enjoy in stunning surroundings and scenery.

Location and Pricing

The Garden is situated 10 minutes from the M4 and 2 minutes from the A48 in Carmarthenshire, mid-way between Cross Hands and Carmarthen.

Admission to the National Botanical Gardens Wales is £9.75 for an adult, £8.00 for a concession, children aged 5-16 are £4.50, under 5’s and carers enter for free

For more information visit the National Botanical Gardens Wales website at
https://botanicgarden.wales

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