Dyffryn Gardens 2021

Last weekend I finally paid my annual visit to Dyffryn Gardens, the National Trust-run stately home and gardens just outside Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan. For one reason or another, I hadn’t had chance to visit earlier in the year and was beginning to worry I wouldn’t make it before the end of summer. So after taking an impromptu Friday off, I headed to the gardens to see how they were looking in 2021…

Now that the Covid-19 restrictions have eased here in Wales, there was no need to pre-book our visit and it made quite a change to be able to show up somewhere without having planned it to the nth degree.

Dyffryn House

Almost as soon as we entered the gardens, the heavens opened in fairly spectacular fashion, so we quickly made our way past the house (above) – which is still closed to visitors – to seek shelter and cake in the adjoining café.

The café was unsurprisingly busy given the downpour and there was a long, slow queue. But we were eventually served by the friendly staff and by the time we’d finished our tea and cake the rain had thankfully stopped.

Blue thistles at Dyffryn Gardens

Venturing back outside, we wandered up to the stone terraces, which were home to some striking bushes of blue and white thistles (above). As we snaked our way around the paths, we found quite a few parts of the garden roped off to visitors for various reasons, including one empty patch that had been filled with sweetpeas last year.

Onions growing at Dyffryn Gardens

We made our way up to the walled garden, which is home to the gardens’ fruit and vegetable patches and a large greenhouse. The lower walled garden was closed to visitors, but we were able to walk around the main walled garden, which boasted whopping great onions (above), eye-catching courgettes and delicate sweetpeas.

After walking around the garden, we headed inside the greenhouse, which spans the top wall. The greenhouse is home to all manner of succulents and cactii, and I always enjoy seeing the more unusual flora that can be found here (above).

At the far end of the greenhouse, there was a series of very well kept tomato plants featuring fruit of all shapes, sizes and colours. I was very impressed by how neat and well-trained the tomato plants were – they’re a complete contrast to the out-of-control bushes at the end of my garden.

Sweetpeas and daisies in the Italian gardens

From the walled garden, we followed the path around the far side of the gardens and eventually found ourselves in my favourite part – the Italian gardens.

The plants in the middle Italian garden (above) change every year and this year, I was surprised by how understated they were with their white and green colour palette. The garden had a slightly wild feel to it, too, and was filled with sweetpeas and daisies.

Fountain in the Italian garden

The elegant garden to the right of the middle garden was closed, but I was able to get a glimpse of it and its striking fountain over the cordon (above).

Pond in the Italian gardens at Dyffryn Gardens

We then headed to the garden to the left of the middle garden, which is home to a rectangular lily pond (above). As we entered the garden, a small boy was excitedly shouting to his grandfather that he’d spotted a newt in the pond.

Lily pond in the Italian gardens

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find said newt (I’ve made a mental note to take a small child with me next time for their superior newt-spotting skills) and had to make do with spotting dragonflies and water snails instead.

Stone fountain at Dyffryn Gardens

Having seen all there was to see in the Italian gardens (bar the elusive newt), we ambled along the paths to the small stone fountain in the lower reaches of Dyffryn Gardens (above) and followed the path past the heart garden.

Wildflowers and grasses in the heart garden

There was a small board near the heart garden explaining that it was currently home to “a mix of native meadow grasses and flowers” (above), but that it would be planted with bulbs in the autumn ready for next spring and summer.

Wild meadow at Dyffryn Gardens

We ended our visit with a stroll to the very end of the garden, which has a much wilder feel to it compared to the other parts of the garden (above and below), and then made our way back towards the entrance via the 22-acre arborteum.

A row of plants at Dyffryn Gardens

I enjoyed our visit to Dyffryn Gardens and was relieved we’d finally made it before all traces of the flowers disappeared.

Despite a few bold pops of colour (above), the gardens had a more subdued feel to them this year, with lots of wildflowers and plants in muted shades, and they were noticeably different to some of the bright, sculpted displays they’ve had in previous years. Given the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising the gardens feel less showy, it’s as though they’re reflecting what a difficult 18 months it’s been.


Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan CF5 6SU

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