Davida involucrata

Exploring Nature's Wonders: A Botanical Journey

The 35 acres of listed historic gardens surrounds the early 13th century castle (not open to the public as it is a family home).

They contain an amazing collection of rare trees and shrubs as well as a formal rose garden, herbaceous borders and an early 19th century traditional walled vegetable garden.

The medieval chapel, featured on Time Team, contains ancient effigies and predates the castle itself. The woodland walks will lead you through stunning ancient trees, past the remains of medieval fish ponds and finally to the tidal estuary of the River Cleddau.

Upton Castle Gardens as they are today were first laid out in 1927 when the gardens were created from what was then woodland and meadows.

We are lucky to have an impressive 18 ‘Champion’ trees, the term for the largest examples of that species in Wales.

The National Tree Register has listed 15 trees as county champions or country champions, including Magnolia Campbellii, Magnolia Delavayi, Magnolia Obovata, Podocarpus, Liriodendron (tulip tree), Davidiii (handkerchief tree), and Drymus Winteraceae.

The walled kitchen garden built circa 1790 contains a large area of vegetables, a fragrant herb garden bordered by a beech hedge, greenhouses (somewhat derelict), and a variety of productive fruit trees.

At the lower end of the walled garden is a new mixed border on the warm West facing wall.

This has been planted with flowers and shrubs such as Echium and Buddleja which are attractive to bees and butterflies.

The limited region of Celtic Rainforest near the estuary is a captivating ecosystem renowned for its lush vegetation, and one of the key factors contributing to its remarkable biodiversity is the presence of fertile soils. Nestled amongst the intertidal estuary region, the gardens benefit from a unique combination of factors that create ideal conditions for plant growth. The estuaries, where rivers meet the sea, bring nutrient-rich sediments that gradually accumulate over time, forming nutrient-dense soils.

Nearer the early 13th-century castle (not open to the public), is an area containing the spectacular rose garden, traditional herbaceous borders, and the newly planted hydrangea beds.

Mostly planted by Stanley Neale in the 1920s or his daughter Joyce Skelton in the 1970s, the rhododendrons make a good show from January onwards peaking in April/May but with some still flowering in August.

The Magnolias which were planted in Stanley Neale’s time have now grown to huge proportions. Several of them have been classified by the National Tree Register as Champion Trees notably, Magnolia campbelli, Magnolia delavayi, Magnolia Obovata. Others have been planted during our time at Upton.

UptonSide
UptonSide

Those planted early on were rare varieties of species rhododendrons but they have been supplemented over the years with hybrids.

This year more species are being planted as some of the older ones need to be replaced.

Many of the Camellias are now very large and give a terrific show when in flower but like all camellias are prone to water damage so not always helped by the Pembrokeshire climate.

UptonSide

The Chapel has been a site of Christian worship since the mid 12th century, which predates the 13th century Castle itself. It contains a number of interesting stone effigies including the ornate 14th century tomb of Sir Walter Maliphant.

Our Victorian chapel has recently has been in use in our weekly service.

Fertile soils support a wide variety of plant species, each adapted to the specific microenvironments within the gardens. From towering ancient trees to delicate ferns and vibrant wildflowers, the Celtic Rainforest is a tapestry of diverse flora. The availability of different moisture levels, sunlight exposure, and soil types across the rainforest creates niches for an array of plant species to thrive. This rich plant diversity, in turn, provides habitats and food sources for a myriad of animal species, making the rainforest a haven for wildlife.

Regular rain brings essential moisture that nourishes the plants and replenishes the water sources, ensuring the continued vitality of the rainforest. The combination of fertile soils, estuary influence, and varied rainfall patterns creates a dynamic environment that supports a remarkable array of species, making the Celtic Rainforest a true ecological treasure.

Unfortunately, recent irregular rainfall caused by climate change is jeopardizing this unique habitat.

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Enjoy a coffee from our cafe (open 11:00am-4:30pm everyday) under the yew tree or overlooking the Castle.