A beautiful new book written during the pandemic is out now and is packed with some of our most spectacular gardens, both large and small. Places which have suffered greatly during months of lockdown, and without our support, will perhaps fall into decline.

THE GREAT GARDENS OF WALES is an unadulterated celebration of Welsh gardens, and its author hopes it will raise the profile both of Wales and its gardens and encourage people from across the UK and beyond to visit them.

Written during the Covid19 lock-down by garden writer and broadcaster Tony Russell (who lives and gardens on the slopes of the Moelwyn Mountains in Snowdonia) and containing a personal foreword by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Great Gardens of Wales features 50 of the finest gardens in Wales and uses evocative text and stunning photography to portray each one.

Tony told us……….

“I began to write the book pretty much as soon as the Covid 19 restrictions came into force and gardens across Wales were forced to close just at the start of their busy spring season.

I realised this was going to be devastating for many gardens, because they rely on income from visitors to enable them to maintain and look after the gardens. As the lockdown continued, news started to emerge that gardens were really struggling and there was a danger some would never fully recover.”

The problem is you cannot simply mothball a garden, like you can a gallery or museum, and wait for the time when visitors return. A garden is a living, dynamic thing and needs constant work to stop it from being overrun by weeds, as well as constant watering in times of drought (as we had this year throughout the spring) to stop plants from dying.”

Gardens included in the book range from national icons such as Bodnant, Powis Castle and the National Botanic Garden of Wales, to lesser known gems including Dyffryn Fernant, Plas Cadnant and Plas Brondanw.

We spoke to Tony recently, on the phone because of social distancing, and he talked about the urgent need for us all to continue visiting and using our historic gardens. He is also is a great supporter of gardening for our well-being, both mental and otherwise. We started by chatting about his ‘lockdown writing’ and how something positive has come from that difficult period.

Enjoy our interview and some of our fantastic gardens……

The 50 gardens are spread throughout Wales from Anglesey in the north to Pembrokeshire and the South Wales valleys and every garden featured is open to visitors at some point during each year.

Most importantly, Tony hopes the book will encourage us to begin visiting gardens once again.

“I feel any support we can offer at this moment is vitally important, as it would be heart-breaking to see some of Wales’ wonderful gardens and historic landscapes falling into decline and forced to close permanently. Not only that, it has long been recognised that visiting gardens is good for us too, it provides us with many health and well-being benefits and is proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels – something we could all do with a little help with during the current pandemic.”

I’m sure Tony won’t mind us saying that he has been around a long while now. He has a lot of fantastic books to his name and is a renowned speaker. Each year BBC garden writer and broadcaster, former Head Forester of Westonbirt Arboretum and editor of the annual publication ‘Gardens to Visit’, undertakes a series of entertaining talks and lectures to garden clubs, horticultural societies and other groups around the country. If you’d like to download the leaflet to find out more, you can do that here. TONY

Tony’s new book, THE GREAT GARDENS OF WALES is out now and is a terrific read. It’ll be really nice for some inspiration of places to visit, once the world gets back to some semblance of normality. You can order your copy by clicking the cover below.

Here are a few inks to some of the gardens mentioned by Tony, they are all unique in their own way, and are in real need of your support.

Finally, if you want to find out more about the benefits of gardening and our own well-being, the RHS have a really good feature in which scientist, Professor Alistair Griffiths, explains how ever-more evidence shows how important gardens and plants are for our physical, mental, and social wellbeing. You can read that HERE

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