Much of what's special in the gardens arises from their setting, geology and climate. The rainfall and shelter allow extraordinary plants to flourish; the Strait-side siting of the mansion - with its views to Snowdonia - provides a one-of-a-kind locale and the underlying topography lends the various gardens much of their idiosyncratic qualities.
There are gardens next to the mansion like the Menai Courtyard, whose massive stone walls make an ideal micro-climate for tender exotics and provide a snug spot for an al fresco sandwich from the coffee shop.
To the west of the mansion is the sun room terrace, which includes a swathe of alpines and dwarf shrubs such as ceanothus
, sempervirens, sedum
, dianthus and phlox
- many of which grow directly from the limestone retaining wall, giving the impression of a flower-encrusted cliff.
To the north of the mansion is the Italianate Terrace, where hot borders are a virtual furnace of reds and oranges, including canna, ligularia, rudbeckia and dahlia, and contrasting cool borders contain agapanthus and ceratostigma
Elsewhere are abundant Mediterranean plants and an array of lichen-encrusted statuary and urns. Below here is the Rill Garden, with its charming cascade splashing through boulders and cobbles, and frothing with spring flowers such as saxifrage, trillium, lamium, tiarella and heuchera.
In the atmospheric Australasian arboretum, the dark canopy of Chilean beeches contrasts with the airy and aromatic eucalypts - both shelter many plants from the southern hemisphere. Nearby is the so-called ‘West Indies’, an expanse of lawn, majestic specimen trees and an enchanting tree house.
At the south end of the park, mingled with mature Scots pine, is the Rhododendron Garden, one of the finest collections in Wales which includes several stately magnolia.