Location, location, location: Picton Castle

Returning from a whistlestop visit to relatives in the UK we were lucky that we missed the storms that caused cancelled ferries and only had a small delay. This meant that we had longer than originally planned to get to the ferry leaving from Pembroke so we made a slightly longer than planned stop at Picton Castle. Nuzzled neatly near Haverfordwest and almost equally distant to both Pembroke and Fishguard, you could not imagine a better placed attraction for ferry-goers.

We did not have time to explore the house so I won’t pretend to know anything of the history except to say that the castle is originally Flemish and dates to the 13th century. As if that is not reason enough to visit, there is a lot to see.

The garden is largely woodland and at this time of the year hydrangeas reign supreme. But there are other things to see apart from pleasant strolls among ancient trees and colourful pink and blue blobs.

The East garden is a neat ‘prairie’ style planting. Although not cutting edge and with a rather small range of plants, it is colourful, attractive, neatly maintained and planted and offers a beautiful foreground to the surrounding landscape. A first rate example.

The biggest draw is probably the walled garden. In a state of disrepair, the structure is being restored and they are raising money for the cause. But a few wobbly bricks and rusty iron doesn’t stop a good gardener from making a show. And the planting here is traditionally full and satisfying. There is an extensive educational display of herbs too but the carefully considered planting and good husbandry was more than enough to keep me very happy.

Nearby is the West garden, a dreamy collection of all the plants that make my legs go weak. Cannas, salvias and alocasias mixed with palms and the developing buds of hedychiums beside and around old fallen branches gave a (presumably) prehistoric atmosphere.

Of course no self-respecting garden is complete without a good clump of gunnera, which here forms the basis for a kids’ boardwalk, and a maze.

Picton Castle was a delightful surprise. There is a small shop, a delightful cafe, Maria’s and a good range of great and reasonably priced plants. I assume Maria is Spanish and the savoury food on offer had a Hispanic theme – very nice indeed.

I was very glad that the ferry was delayed if only to give me time to squeeze a few more plants into the car!

Admission is £9 and you could easily spend a good half day here.



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