We celebrated the official onset of Summer with our first visit to Clyne Gardens, close to the sea and between Swansea and The Mumbles. 12 members along with two guests from the Friends of Dyffryn Gardens enjoyed the company of Tony Titchen as we skirmished with some of the magnificent trees in this scenic park.
Clyne Gardens was purchased in 1860 by William Graham Vivian with much of the work in the gardens continued by his nephew Algernon, 'The Admiral', who had a major influence on it between 1921 and 1952.
We hardly scratched the surface, as in four hours we probably covered just a quarter of the site. Scope for another visit in the future? The estate is famous internationally for its collection of Pieris, Enkianthus and Rhododendrons (they were blooming and there's a photo of one below), yet we did not get round to looking at many of these - nor the bog garden, bluebell wood, Japanese Bridge, heather beds, Italian bridge, Joy Cottage and the wildflower meadows!
So what did we see? First stop was a Persian Ironwood, Parrotia persica, originating in the forests south of the Caspian Sea and related to the Witch Hazels (photo below). There are two forms, one arborescent, the other shaped like a tree. The wood is very hard, hence the name, and a number of us proved the point by banging our heads on the low-lying branches as we weaved our way around the trunk.
Next a cedar and a less common variety than the Atlas, Deodar or Cedar of Lebanon normally encountered in parks. This was the Cyprus Cedar, Cedrus brevifolia, with its Latin name indicating its short needles (below). There are three geographical sub-species and Tony commented that this was the best specimen he had come across.
Next a substantial oak, a Red Oak, Quercus rubra. If you examined the big leaves it was noticeable how the veins continued to a point on the leaf, a 'bristlepoint'. Tony indicated that the wood of Red Oak is tougher than English Oak and in the American War of Independence this provided American warships with an advantage as they were clad in Red Oak which was more successful in repelling cannon-balls than the English ships with their covering of Quercus robur.