From 1893 Henry Oakley created these labyrinthine paths which twist around above and below ground. James Pulham & Son constructed the man-made dark mysterious grottoes, interspersed with caverns into which natural light filters allowing water lilies, fuchsias and begonias to flourish. After WW11 the gardens were neglected, to the extent that the grottoes were earthed up. More recently they have been re-discovered and renovated.
There are ponds, a fountain, a bog garden with an Indian bean tree and giant rhubarb. Magnificent pine trees are dotted about, formal flower beds and fairy signs for children to seek out.
They sell a small selection of plants next to the friendly cafe where our sandwiches were made for us. A lovely day out in an extraordinary setting.
It's a brilliant free outdoor museum 10 minutes west of the centre showing how Welsh people lived, worked and spent their spare time through the ages. Set in 100 acres of beautiful parkland in the grounds of St Fagans castle, a 16th-century manor house, over 30 buildings have been painstakingly moved from various parts of Wales and reassembled brick by brick. Native farm animals roam the fields and farmyards, and there’s a working flour mill and blacksmith. There are also some great old-fashioned shops including a baker’s and a sweet shop. The village of St Fagans itself is worth a look, with pretty thatched-roof cottages, a picturesque cricket ground and decent pub.
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