Breath-Taking

Thursday 30th July 2020

As you know I suffer some chronic not-enjoying-things syndrome brought on by chronic worry-and-strain scenario plus always worrying and easily bored as well as worn out. But when I came round the corner and beheld Powis Castle gardens I was knocked out by their glory. These gardens I have always heard of and many plants are named after them but nothing was as foreseen. The experience was equal to my first exposure to the Grand Canal at Venice which is the only other time that a spectacle was beyond expectation. Usually upon first encountering some world-famous site there is a dip as one adjusts from advance imagination. Maybe peeling paint or grubby marks have to be accommodated. One gets used to it.

But Powis Castle gardens were a violent assault of immediate perfection. You round a corner and there before you the whole vista is laid out. It is a hanging garden with a large newer addition, as if grown as an arm from the older garden above, sitting in the valley below. Never was a garden more ruthlessly exposed to its natural surroundings. You see for miles along the valley. Yet the contrivance of clipped yew hedges, giant man-made terraces, borders and lawns is the perfect highly-wrought compliment to the unaltered setting. Ravishing how it fits in.

The history is enchanting. Originally an actual castle on a rock, in the 17th century somebody thought: Let’s build terraces all the way up the sheer rock-face and make a garden. It’s easily 50m in height if not more. All the soil imported. Can you imagine? Yews were planted to be precise pyramids. Now, after more than 300 years they are huge, carefully clipped clouds spilling over the edge. At the side of the terrace is a massive hedge, also yew, also now wavy, which must be one of the wonders of the world in terms of yew. Yew and bricks and stone are the drama really. Nothing else. So bold and simple. The borders are a moveable display that provide more intimate interludes.

The glory of this garden is its age and how it has evolved of its own accord over 300 years and come to rest as the ideal design in the landscape. One of my favourite parts was the great blank rectangle of grass below the terraces. What a masterstroke, I thought, to have a space of nothing below all the concentration above. But it turned out it was just a happy accident. In the 17th century there had been a knot-garden there which had been cleared away by later generations who didn’t like knot gardens.

Powis Castle Garden: Graphs do Not do it Justice. You see the Great Blank below and the Newer Garden Extending

Powis Castle Garden: Graphs do Not do it Justice. You see the Great Blank below and the Newer Garden Extending

The Drama of Yew: Powis Castle

The Drama of Yew: Powis Castle

A Quieter Border Moment

A Quieter Border Moment

The Great Yew Hedge

The Great Yew Hedge

 

 

Posted Thursday, July 30, 2020 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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