A Secret Garden on the Lleyn Peninsula
A trip to a little known garden in Wales where
grows, among other treasures, one of the only mature Butias in the
British Isles. Join Steven Brown on an exotic trip of discovery.
by Steven Brown,135a, Market Street, Edenfield, Bury, Lancashire,
Chamaerops No.37, Winter Edition 2000
Above: Butia capitata and Trachycarpus fortunei
in the back garden.
Below: Chamaerops humilis in the front garden.
Thrusting out into the Irish Sea, like an arm from
the mountainous shoulder of Snowdonia, is the Leyn Peninsula, North
Wales. Bounded by the sea on three sides, with the mountains to
the east, it is a wild landscape. Shrubs and trees are sculptured
by westerly winds. But, as you enter Abersoch, its sheltered position
is apparent. This is especially true at Haulfryn Coach House, situated
to the rear of the town, where its position has allowed sub-tropical
After hearing rumours of a ninety year old Butia Palm,
planted on the Lleyn Peninsula at the turn of the Century, I decided
to investigate the story. So we booked into the Port Tocyn Country
House Hotel, Abersoch. The propriator, Mr. Fletcher-Brewer, informed
us of the probable location of the palm. Having found the property
situated behind the Palm Bistro, we walked down a gravel
drive. On either side of us, Echium piniana had self-seeded to weed
proportions, which I have only before seen on such a scale in the
U.K. at Tresco (Scilly Isles).
Originally the property - a large stone house and
gardens - belonged to the Minobrias family who have been in the
area for a long time. I managed to track them down but they could
not offer me much information other than the fact that the property
now belongs to the Warren family, who, for their part, have turned
it into flats.
As you approach the stone property, not only are Echiums
prevalent but there is also a rare Cordyline banksii Purpurea,
along with Cordyline australis of different ages, and a lovely eight
foot Cordyline australis Albertii. To the left of the
drive is a very fine grove of Trachycarpus fortunei. To the front
of the house is a group of Chamaerops humilis which, at eightteen
to twenty feet, are the biggest Ive seen in Britain. Then,
as we approached the back of the house, we got our first glimpse
of the Butia capitata - standing about thirty feet tall. It has
to be said that it has got quite a poor trunk and is full of holes.
But who cares? Its a fully grown Butia growing on mainland
Britain and there are not many of them around!
Along the stone wall, which goes round the back of
the house, are some plants which are worth mentioning. Acacia verticillata
was in full flower (it was April when we were there). Grevillea
juniperina was dripping with flowers. In the corner of one of the
walls there was the bold, jagged, blue-grey leaves of Melianthus
major. Sophora microphylla was full of its yellow lantern-like flowers.
Nerium oleander were in bud. And, Pelagonium sp. were thriving against
the wall, so they obviously survive the winter in this mild climate.
At the back of the garden there was a Yucca bank with
quite a few good sized Agave americana. Oscularia caulescens was
spilling over the rocks. Osteospermum Nairobi Purple
(syn. Tresco Purple) was in full flower. Carpobrotus
edulis and Carpobrotus acinaciformis had spread itself all over
the bank. The orange flowers of Lampranthus aureas shone in the
spring sunshine and Sedum dendroideum was spreading itself around
We had now reached the lower edges of the garden,
so we made our way along a side path back to the house where there
were several shrubs demanding our attention, such as Euphorbia mellifera
with its honey scented flowers. There was a large, imposing Drimys
winteri with its balls of fragrant creamy white flowers. The red
flowers of Crinodendron hookerianum looked quite magnificent in
its cool, sheltered site. Nearby was an old shrub of Leptospermum
All too soon it was time to head home. The future
of this private garden remains to be seen.
22-01-20 - 12:35GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
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This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...