Plas yn Rhiw's restored garden
Before the Keating sisters moved into Plas yn Rhiw it was overgrown with brambles, discover how they restored it to the beauty it is today.
The garden is below the house on a wooded hillside facing south-east across Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth), providing a favourable sheltered site for a wide variety of species that thrive in the mild climate.
It’s nearly an acre in size and characterised by a series of spaces or compartments enclosed by box hedging and linked by grassed and gravel paths.
The earliest documentary reference to the garden is a tithe map of 1844 where it was laid out in a Victorian manner in contrast to the informal character of the present garden.
Before the Keating sisters moved in the garden was thoroughly overgrown, with brambles so densely blocking the front door that they had to climb through the front window.
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis described it as “A blossoming jungle of fuchsias, figs and azaleas”.
Unfortunately, the Keating’s kept few notes and no diaries of their work in the garden. Except this one by Honora, found pencilled on some old plant catalogues;
" Magnolia mollicomata, planted by me in 1946, for the first time the tree is covered in perfect blooms, over 150 counted on the 7th April."
This is often the highlight of the garden- even today, both in early spring and in in August/September when it’s covered with crimson fruit.
Behind the house lies the orchard, where we’ve recently planted 145 trees, these being apples, pears, plums and cherry. It contains 35 different varieties of Welsh fruit.
The grass is managed in a way that encourages wild flowers and herbs. The sward is cut once a year, late august to early September when the flowers have set seed. An increase in wildflowers will encourage beneficial insect pollinators.