A day of Clough

Much earlier this year I was sitting reading The Garden and there was a small piece about the opening this year for the National Garden Scheme of a rare (very rare) garden designed by Clough Williams Ellis just over the border in Wales.  A couple of text messages later and my daughter and younger brother were signed up for a road trip to go and visit.  Months passed and finally the day came.  As it was a long journey I thought we needed a further stopping point to add in.  A bit of research later and the day was planned.  May 30th finally arrived and we set off.

We got a fair distance before we were stopped, almost literally in our tracks, by a church.  People who know us will realise the amusement in this,
We had not seen a timber-clad church tower like this before so we had to investigate.  This is the church of St Mary Magdalene at Stretton Sugwas, Herefordshire.  It is an interesting church as its origins are very old but it had to be relocated and rebuild in the late nineteenth century due to subsidence. The new church is a mix of re-used materials and Victorian gothic.  Sadly we could not get inside as it was locked, but apparently there are some very interesting features inside as well.  It was a fascinating pause in our journey.

We commenced west-wards and finally arrived at our lunch destination, Llangoed Hall, in Brecon, Powys.  Llangoed Hall was Clough's first commission back in 1913.
You look at it and your can see his signature all over.
Reminders of Portmeirion and Plas Brondanw are at every turn.
It also shouts of the Arts and Crafts movement,
we loved these steps with their obligatory Erigeron karvinskianus seeding around everywhere.
To the rear and side of the hotel are the formal gardens.
They are lined with fruit trees and include formal parterres of vegetables, herbs, and what will be a very fine rose garden once it is in flower.  They are having a garden day in August and if I can possibly get back for that I will as I think it will be worth the journey.
Then we found something completely unexpected.  As we were admiring the gardens we were walking along a hedge to one side of us.  I started to follow the hedge around as I wanted to see what was inside it.
Around we went until we realised it was a maze.  A maze!  There might have been squeaks of excitement.
It was, thankfully, not too taxing a maze, and we found the bint at the centre of it.
We then made our way happily out.
The planting at the hotel is worthy of mention.
As was this beautiful Alvis parked outside.  There was a bit of car envy expressed.
There was also clematis envy.  We had a wonderful visit and a very good lunch and set off merrily on our way to our final destination, Broadheath House.

This garden is rare because Clough was not generally a garden designer.  He was an architect who cared deeply about how architecture and landscape should work in harmony.  He worked on Broadheath House in 1925, when he would already have commenced his work creating Portmeirion.
It is a beautiful house and respectfully painted in Portmeirion blue.
The curves and lines of Portmeirion are there and also this very fine wisteria.

The garden itself is Italianate,
  This is the sunken garden, which is wonderfully planted and the hard landscaping makes great lines with the hedges as boundaries.
looking back the other way there is a loggia at the top of the garden with wonderful rows of iris in front.
The barns runs along one side, with a dovecote attached.
I loved the use of topiary and box hedging.
The alliums in particular were making good impact.
Around to the side of the sunken garden is this peach house, complete with peaches growing well inside.  There are the remains of probably the original trees viewable.
This greenhouse has been tidied up and whilst it is sad that the glass has gone, the vine is still alive and makes a good shape winding into it.
The kitchen garden has been beautifully laid out.
and has small touches that raise a smile.
The garden is well planted,
This huge border of geranium looked wonderful.  Yes you could argue that it could be planted up with more variety but I liked the block of single planting and thought it worked very well in the context of that part of the garden.
It is very hard, well I find it hard, to visit a Clough garden and not photograph gates.  They are good gates.
There is a wilderness garden complete with treehouse.
A summer house complete with yew pillars.
Ornamental well-heads and well-clipped topiary-topped hedging.
Signature Clough steps and doorways.
A nuttery lined with amalanchiers and...
horses, pretty horses.

We really enjoyed our visit, we had cake (obviously) and tea and just relaxed on a warmish sunny May afternoon.  We wended our way home agreeing that there were few better ways of spending a sunny Saturday.


  1. What an amazing day out you had, it all sounds wonderful! Not one but two gardens, with lunch and tea as well, sounds a perfect day.

  2. Sounds like s wonderful day for you, and two more beautiful places for my to see list,


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