The Hidden Gardens of Anglesey

On the island of Anglesey is a little slice of heaven – the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens. As we drove up the winding drive (having to be careful of the many sheep wandering about!) it became apparent we were visiting a secret hideaway off the beaten track.

After purchasing our tickets at the information cabin, we entered Plas Cadnant and I was instantly swept away in the natural beauty of these gardens. The first section reminded me of Versailles, with it’s uniformed hedges, and the musician playing the cello at the entrance encouraged the relaxed atmosphere. As we walked through, taking an inordinate number of photographs as we did so, we saw some truly beautiful views.

After leaving the initial structured walled garden, the paths become more winding and the flora became wilder. There were little waterfalls and pools, with one path leading down towards the river which was just magical. With the sun shining it really was some much needed shinrin-yoku, forest bathing.

Plas Cadnant as we know it today might never have been without the efforts of its current custodian Anthony Tavernor, who took on the painstaking job of restoring these gardens after falling in love with the site. In his own words “I was immediately spellbound by the romantic charm of its dereliction. As I began to explore the overgrown gardens in which nature had had a free hand for over 70 years; and therefore completely engulfed the place, I quicky realized that the gardens were something special”. 

The origins of the garden go back to 1800, where John Price the Sheriff of Anglesey built his residence Plas Cadnant. Over the years the garden developed with his son (also called John Price) laying the groundwork as he created the paths in the lower woodland and planted a “mixture of native and exotic trees, shrubs and other plants to provide colour and interest”.

It was likely both of them were inspired by the nearby Plas Newydd, whose gardens had been re-designed by Humphry Repton. After the death of John Price, the younger, the estate was inherited by his eldest grandson who did not initially spend much time at Plas Cadnant. In later years he lived there with his family, with the last remaining family member Catherine passing away in 1928. With no one left to inherit, the estate was sold off at auction, which is where the Fanning-Evans family come in.

Major Thomas Fanning-Evans and his wife Maud took on the site and modernised the property. They were a military family and were eventually posted away, meaning Plas Cadnant and its garden were no longer top of the agenda and the site was left to renters. Thomas’ son Claude, also a Major, inherited the property on his father’s death in 1944 and lived there with his wife Elizabeth. She loved gardening and with their limited resources focused on a patch of the walled garden with some of her plants still visible today. The rest of the garden declined over the decades until the current owner Anthony took on the challenging site.

With investment, time and love Anthony and his team have spent years restoring the garden and it’s now an oasis for visitors to enjoy. If you’re ever in Anglesey I cannot recommend the historic Hidden Gardens highly enough, it was one of the highlights of our trip to Wales and I hope to visit again one day.

Have you visited before? Do you plan too after reading this? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Sources

Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens Guidebook

Plas Cadnant Website: https://plascadnant.co.uk/

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