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Powis Castle

Listed under Gardens in Wales, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
  • Photo of Powis Castle
Photo of Powis Castle
Photo by flickr user mayrace
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This romantic garden is different from other English gardens and is rich in planting and history. Built by the Medieval Princes of Upper Powys on a rocky outcrop, this blush-pink castle has been the ancestral home of the Herbert family since 1587. Powis Castle has been beautified by successive generations of Herberts and then Clives (descendants of Clive of India).

The gardens were originally laid out in the 1680s based on designs by William Wynde, inspired by those of the palace at St Germain-en-Laye near Paris where the first Marquis of Powis joined James II in exile in 1689. The hanging terraces which rise to 450 feet, dictated by the massive rock from which they were blasted around 1700, are the greatest surviving example of the Baroque garden in Britain.

To the cry of peacocks, you enter the garden at the western end of the top and descend a series of long narrow terraces which are abundantly planted with many flowering shrubs. Beneath dumplings of deep green yew, tall niches in the walls hold terracotta urns that overflow with pelargoniums, fuchsias, helichrysum and a variety of other colourful flowers in summer. A statue of Hercules and the Hydra by the famous 18th century garden sculptor John van Nost stands against a spectacular backdrop of ancient clipped Powis yew planted around 1720. Outside the Aviary, lead figures of shepherds and shepherdesses dancing on a balustrade are by Andries Carpentière who worked for van Nost. Below this balustrade is an orangery which houses cool conservatory plants. From the east end of the Orangery Terrace a zigzag path leads down the Box Walk and to the Formal Garden, transformed in 1911 from the Kitchen Garden. In the shelter of the walls and hedges unusual and tender plants and climbers now thrive. From here you can walk through the Croquet Lawn and the Fountain Garden. Crossing the Yew Walk with the castle high on your right, you reach the Great Lawn, which was once a spectacular water garden. On the other side of the Great Lawn, facing the castle, rises the Wilderness Ridge, a woodland garden with acid loving shrubs flowering in spring. Beyond the Woodland garden are a small lake and an ice house where ice from the lake, with layers of insulating straw served as refrigeration before electricity was discovered.

The castle contains the fascinating Clive Museum besides a wealth of fine furniture and paintings.

Written by  Tony Sissons.

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