The National Botanic Garden of Wales - a glasshouse wonder
The National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, is a relatively recent addition to the horticultural scene. It only opened in May 2000, and is now the most visited garden in Wales with an amazing collection of over 8000 different plant varieties.
The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation. The garden, to be found near Carmarthen, just beyond the western end of the Brecon Beacons National Park, is spread across 560 acres of countryside, and features the world's largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110 m (360 ft) long by 60 m (200 ft) wide, as well as a bird of prey centre.
The idea for a National Botanic Garden of Wales originated from the Welsh artist, William Wilkins. His aunt had described to him the ruins of elaborate water features she had discovered while walking in the area - the remnants of gardens initiated in 1789 by businessman Sir William Paxton around his property Middleton Hall. Paxton was involved with the East India Company, and became a wealthy landowner as well as the Member of Parliament for Carmarthen.
Under the guidance of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, a successful application was made to the Millennium Commission to fund Britain’s first new national botanic garden for 200 years on the site of Paxton's original 18th century gardens.
As well as the glasshouse and the revived water gardens, new delights continue to be added by the ambitious horticultural team. In 2007, a new tropical glasshouse was opened, and in 2015 a large collection of Welsh apple varieties was planted.
The Waun Las national nature reserve is accessed from the garden and comprises some 370 acres of wildflower meadows and pastures.
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