A Hidden Gem in South Pembrokeshire.
Even regular visitors to the county, and perhaps locals too, may not have discovered the delights of the gardens of Upton Castle. Tucked away from the westerly winds in the valley beyond the pretty village of Cosheton near Pembroke, Upton’s 35 acres of garden and woodland is well worth a visit. Once occupied by Owain Glyndwr and having a chapel dating back to 1150 in its latest form, the castle has very rarely changed ownership. The gardens were developed from 1927 by the owner Stanley Neale, a shipowner and the castle is now in the ownership of Stephen and Prue Barlow, who become the custodians of this beautiful place in 2007. The castle itself is not open to the public, but weddings can be held there and the gardens are open every year from April to October. With an arboretum, rose garden, walled garden and extensive woodlands there is plenty to explore. Dogs are welcome on leads and there are picnic benches and toilets.
With Cwtch Collie on her lead, I spent a sunny afternoon being shown around the gardens by Jim Saul, our Gardening Correspondent, who described the gardens as even more delightful than he remembered, not having been to Upton for some years!
From the late 1920s, stone terraces were installed and an extensive planting programme of shrubs and plants began. Jim explained that the acid soil meant that conditions are ideal for rhodendrons, camellias and magnolias and Upton has some spectacular examples of all these. Many unusual trees are also thriving here and Jim particularly noted the fagus heterphyllia (cut-leaf), davidia involverata (handkerchief tree) and ginko biloba.
Herbaceous plants and roses are a speciality of Upton and the very welcoming volunteer told us about these when we started our tour.
The woodlands are extensive and have been made more accessible due to the work of the Upton Woodland Scheme – a joint initiative with Green Links, a Pembroke project supporting socially excluded groups, and funded in part by the European Regional Development Agency. There are good paths right through to the river, plenty of information boards and areas for children to learn and play about the woodland and wildlife.
Whether or not you are a knowledgeable gardener, or just enjoy wandering around beautiful peaceful gardens, then I would recommend a visit to Upton Castle Gardens. Follow the brown signs from the main road to SA72 4SE. Adults £6 and children £1.50. Season tickets available.