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Visiting the garden at Colby Woodland

Bluebells under the trees , Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
Bluebells, Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire. | © National Trust Images/Sue Jones

With an industrial past and set in a tranquil secret valley, Colby Woodland Garden is full of surprises. Enjoy shady woodland walks, the wildflower meadow and colourful walled garden. Explore the meadow with its stream, stepping-stones and log bridge and build dens in the woods or take part in one of the seasonal trails. There’s lots to discover when you visit Colby.

Early Spring highlights

There’s plenty to see in early Spring at Colby Woodland Garden as the landscape starts to come alive for Spring. There are little green shoots bursting into snowdrops in the beds on Cwms lane, and soon the Camelias will show-off their blousy blooms along the foot of the west wood. Look out for the bluebell glades when the upper parts of the woodland are carpeted in blue, and their delicate scent is in the air.

It’s also a good time to explore the ‘Sky glade’ at the top of the wood where you can lean on a tree trunk and gaze at the clouds moving across the sky.

The walled garden at Colby

From humble beginnings as a kitchen garden, the walled garden was semi-derelict by the 1970s. It was transformed into a formal setting by Mr and Mrs Scourfield-Lewis, who took on Colby Lodge (the on-site house) and the walled garden in the 1980s. The walled garden returned into our care in 2010.

Things to see in the walled garden

  • Magnolia A riot of colour in spring and summer, the magnolia tree sits above the entrance to the garden.
  • Trompe l'oeil painting In the gazebo you’ll find an optical illusion, known as trompe l’oeil or ‘trick of the eye’. Peter Chance (who gave us the estate) commissioned American artist Lincoln Taber to paint it.
  • Water feature Punctuated by plants and paths, follow the flow of water as it works its way through the garden.
  • Sculptures You’ll find quirky sculptures dotted all over the garden; see how many you can spot.

The walled garden is closed during the autumn and winter months, until the 16th March when it will reopen from 10am -4pm daily.

A woodland path meanders beside beds of wildflowers and a stone building with a black door at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire. The path leads towards a statue of a person beside a wooden footbridge.
A path meandering through Colby Woodland Garden | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The woodland garden at Colby

The site played an active part in the Pembrokeshire coal industry during the 1790s, when landowner John Colby acquired it.

The garden only really came into its own in the 1870s when a pharmacist named Samuel Kay bought the land and house, Colby Lodge. He began the planting and his descendants continued the legacy in the 1920s by incorporating ponds and additional horticultural features.

Things to see in the woodland garden

  • Rhododendrons Colby’s speciality which thrive in the garden’s acidic soil; look out for the large-leaved rhododendrons by the newt pond and old oak corner.
  • Wildlife Binoculars at the ready, the valley is teeming with all kinds of creatures; from birds to bugs and the occasional otter.
  • Japanese redwood Reaching towering heights of 134 feet, Colby has one of the tallest Japanese redwood trees in the UK; you’ll find it adjacent to the newt pond.
  • Industrial reminders The garden is full of heritage hotspots including mine entrances and an old mine track that leads to the beach.
  • Sea views Follow the path through the west wood, which on a clear day boasts views across Carmarthen Bay with Worm’s Head in the distance.
A young boy is smiling and swinging on a tree rope swing at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire as two other children watch him.
Children playing on a tree rope swing at Colby Woodland Garden | © National Trust Images/ Chris Lacey

Family fun in a natural playground at Colby

Making the most of the outdoors is easy at Colby Woodland Garden, just think of it as one big adventure playground. Clamber across stepping-stones scattered in the streams and delve into a water world of pond dipping, dam building and wildlife watching.

Seasonal highlights at Colby Woodland Garden

Colby is colourful all year round, with each season welcoming a new palette of charming colours.

Spring brings carpets of bluebells, crocuses and daffodils followed by swathes of camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, the garden’s speciality.

Summer sees hydrangeas and wild flowers blossom, and the formal walled garden is a real delight at this time of the year.

Autumn and winter are just as eye-catching with the marvellous tones of acers, dogwoods and sweet-gum.

A view of the Walled Garden at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire. It has a path running through it, alongside which are densely planted borders and a large mature tree with dark red leaves.

Discover more at Colby Woodland Garden

Find out when Colby Woodland Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Eating and shopping at Colby Woodland Garden 

A favourite with locals and visitors alike, the Bothy Tea-room serves delicious lunches and mouth-watering cakes and the Loft Gallery sells hand crafted local products. Our Visitor Centre has a second hand bookshop and souvenirs for the garden.

A large wheel lies on the woodland floor at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire. Plants have grown in each section of the wheel.

History of Colby Woodland Garden 

Long before it became a garden, the Colby estate played an active part in Pembrokeshire’s coal industry. Discover more about the garden and the lives of its occupants.

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Wildlife at Colby Woodland Garden 

Colby’s wooded valley is teeming with creatures great and small. Look out for birds, bugs, very rare bats and even the occasional otter.