“Go and see it” – Monty Don
There can be few more decisive reviews of a garden than this one from the star of BBC Gardeners’ World, so Pembrokeshire Life Online’s gardening correspondent, Jim Saul did just that.
On a glorious sunny May afternoon we were fortunate to be welcomed and shown around this enchanting place just below Waun Fach, east of Fishguard, by the creator, Christina Shand and her husband David. When she moved into Dyffryn Fernant in 1996, there was a run-down farmhouse and overgrown garden so Christina set about transforming it all, bit by bit.
The six acres of many different, natural, stylised and exotic gardens include a quarry area as you enter, then the front garden and kitchen garden – which were the first areas to be tackled -A plant nursery, rickyard, orchard, fernery, bog and woodland areas. From the gloriously pink house there are far-reaching views across the gardens to fields and the Preselis. Within the garden, a Cwm, a pond and the area referred to as ‘Beyond’ – where visitors are welcome to picnic. From the magic garden the views are wonderful.
The well stocked library offers an inviting place to sit and rest, where you will find tea and coffee are provided. And, there are seats throughout the garden if you prefer to take a book outside.
With no prescribed route, you are free to meander in any direction and experience the sounds, sights and smells of the gardens while you browse and relax.
Self-taught and with a notable eye for shape and colour, Christina has created a magical place here, nestling under the Preselis and, as Jim said within five minutes of our arrival, “This is the best garden I have seen in years…” High praise indeed from a professional with 30 years experience!
Christina told us how she developed the garden, progressing gradually, outwards from the house and incorporating the natural features – ancient blue stones, the farm sheepfold and meeting the myriad challenges of bog, rock, clay and little top soil.
She regularly gives a talk about her creation, entitled, ‘Between a Bog and a Hard Place’. Group visits are welcome and National Garden Scheme (NGS) Open Days are held, too. There are two remaining NGS days this year – on Sunday 6th August & Sunday 3rd September. Teas and lunches can be pre-arranged for groups, who will be shown around by Christina, herself.
I could have stayed there for days – especially to read some good books in the garden.
Jim will be going back to see how the garden changes over the summer – if you would like to spend more time at Dyffryn Fernant, there are opportunities for volunteers – Contact Christina via her website, here.
There is a holiday cottage in the grounds – your well-behaved dogs are welcome, but only guide dogs are allowed in the gardens.
Entry to Dyffryn Fernant Garden – FREE for children; Adults pay £6 – Season tickets are available and gift vouchers, too.
This garden has several sculptures to discover and there are exhibitions held in the library.
To coincide with 2017 Year of Legends, why not take part in the Dyffryn Fernant short story competition – for adults and children – A booklet and the website has details of mythical plants to inspire the writer, click here or the image below.
Pembrokeshire Life Online’s own creative writing group members may well be tempted to enter.
Dig – Plant – Nurture – is Christina Shand’s motto and her garden at Dyffryn Fernant certainly gives inspiration to any gardener, experienced or just beginning.
Interview by Jim Saul – Pembrokeshire Gardens
Send us a picture from your garden and we’ll feature it in a Readers Gardens Gallery
We’ll also add your name to a monthly draw for a gardening prize!