Garden Portrait: Powis Castle

Castle with its terraces

The castle and garden is in Welshpool, Powys. The gardens are spread out over several Baroque terraces leading down through shrubs and giant cloud-shaped yew hedges to a large lawned area and a former kitchen garden and a woodland walk. All backed by a patchwork of fields, villages and hills of the Welsh border countryside.

Lower formal garden and lines of pyramidal apple trees

The terraces include an Orangery and an Aviary with the sheltering walls angled towards the south-west providing a mild climate in which a number of shrubs and climbers can be found. In spring pretty blue ceanothus spreads like a cloud and pale yellow roses pick up the tones of the red sandstone walls.

There are a number of lead statues in the gardens, most found on the grand terraces and from the workshop of the Flemish sculptor John van Nost. The lead used most likely came from the Powis family’s own lead mines at Llangynog, Montgomeryshire.

The Yew trees are magnificent. The fourteen specimen ‘tumps’ that sit on the upper terrace along with lead urns as well as the bulging hedge at the northern end were probably planted in the 1720s. Other evergreens include darker Irish yews and towering walls of boxwood.

Each terrace has its own theme. Drier conditions on the narrow Aviary Terrace allow for sun-loving Mediterranean, Californian and Southern Hemisphere planting including cistus, carpenteria, broom, lavender and iris and silver artemesia. The roof is draped in wisteria and troughs of creeping figs. Fuchsias are a speciality and often grown in the old basketweave pots.

Lead figure of Hercules on a stone plinth. Hercules is depicted wearing a lion-skin and slaying the hydra (carved in stone), using a club which is made of wood. Behind is the spectacular yew hedge.

Herbaceous borders on the third terrace leading to the lower garden

On the third terrace you find the Orangery and long, box-edged borders.

The bottom of the garden is now lawned (Great Lawn) and used for playing croquet. It used to be the kitchen garden, but now all that remains are the rare, old varieties of apple trees.

Ground cover, bedding plants, including hardy geraniums, roses and delphiniums stretch out from the half-timbered gardener’s bothy.

Here you can wander out of the formal garden and into a wilder woodland landscape, with a path curving towards the western ridge. This area is formed of acid sandstone in contrast to the limestone of the castle ridge and allows the planting of azaleas and rhododendrons.

The path leads to an ice-house and a Ladies’ Bath, both dating from the 19th century and you have views out towards the Long Mountain and Breidden Hills and across to the daffodil strewn paddock to the castle and terraces.

Returning to the western side of the castle we’ll have a peep into the courtyard and entrance to the castle (though I have yet to go inside as I always seem to spend my time in the gardens).

And a final look at the flowers in the woodland area, in springtime.

Size: 25 acres (10 hectares)

  • Street:        Powis Castle and Garden
  • Postcode:   SY21 8RF
  • City:            Welshpool
  • County:      Powys
  • Country:    United Kingdom

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.

29 Comments Add yours

  1. Shezz says:

    This castle is gorgeous! It could be the best place to relax, escape the busy world and just read…

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes. There are some nice benches on the terraces from which to take in the views.

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Another favourite place, and you’ve done it proud here.

    1. Heyjude says:

      We went a few times, but not often in good weather, or on our own. I’d like to see it in summer.

  3. Pat says:

    What a delightful walk. Thanks so much for this post.

  4. Sue says:

    As an adult, I would find this place most interesting- as a small child I most emphatically did not!

  5. Jude, you find the most spectacular gardens to share with us. This one is glorious and I’m not surprised you haven’t made it inside.

    1. Heyjude says:

      As you are well aware, my interests lie with the planting and not the buildings. Except for externally.

  6. Robyn Haynes says:

    Magnificent gardens, Jude. I can see it would take more than one visit to appreciate all it has to offer. I think those yew trees are amazing – both in shape and in age. Thanks for allowing me to take a virtual tour.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think we hit it just right on this visit, sun shining and late May so plenty of flowers. I’m more interested in the gardens than the buildings in these places and sometimes the gardens fall short.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I think this place ticked both boxes and your photos did it justice.

  7. BeckyB says:

    Magnificent. I’d happily borrow the aviary terrace, am sure it wouldn’t take me long and they wouldn’t notice!

    1. Heyjude says:

      OK. So long as I can have the Orangery.

      1. BeckyB says:

        Of course . . . . . . shall we do both at the same time?

  8. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Remarkable craftsmanship when built and wonderful gardening now. At first glance I thought it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it’s fabulous. The Hercules statue using three different materials is unusual, I’ve never seen anything like it. Great post Jude, happy Saturday!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not one of my favourite places either Gilly, until this visit when there was much more in flower. And when the sun shines on those terraces you could think yourself to be in the Med.

  9. I love this castle and gardens, Jude, especially the yew shrubs! So pretty! What time of year was this?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Must have been late spring, end of May possibly. First time I have been down to the woodland area. The yew hedge is massive!

  10. susurrus says:

    Thanks for the springtime tour. You’ve brought back lots of happy memories. I love the way you included the centre picture in the last gallery. You’ve captured the almost bewildering but wonderful excess to the senses of a mass of flowers with the sun on them. I always wonder what it must be to hover with a bee’s senses in the midst of all that.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Glad you enjoyed the tour Susan.

  11. Joanne Sisco says:

    Your response to Nomad answered my question. I thought these were recent photos and I was totally in awe of your spring in early March!!

    I had to look up yews because I couldn’t picture them at all. Wow! If we had those, I would remember it! However, what struck me the most was the statue of Hercules and especially the close-up of Hydra. I’m always so impressed with the level of detail – in this case the toes on Hercules’ foot and the teeth of the Hydra. There is some real craftsmanship in this work!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah, yes. If only it were like this in March!

  12. restlessjo says:

    Bless your cotton socks- I missed this! 😦 😦 Sorry, it’s been a full on weekend and I haven’t had time to nip into the Reader till I put my walk up this morning. You shall have pride of place next week, I promise. Good thing you don’t need my readership to follow you, Jude. Your work is always beautiful. 🙂 I wanted to get to Powis when we were in Church Stretton last year but it was a stretch too far. You’ve done it proud. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks for the compliments Jo 😀
      Powis is not my favourite place, but it certainly is impressive and the views are great.

  13. pommepal says:

    What an impressive place Jude and the gardens are superb. I could easily spend all day wandering around with the camera and sketch book…

    1. Heyjude says:

      Sketching must be a wonderful way of slowing you down and taking in what is around you. Photography can be so quick that you stop noticing what you are actually looking at. I try to be much more mindful these days.

      1. pommepal says:

        That is a very valid comment Jude. I do remember the places I’ve sat and sketched, it puts me into the zone…

  14. Gorgeous – love your presentation! Thank you

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