Members of the Natural Dye Garden Group had been invited to visit Cowbridge Physic Garden and arrangements made to meet Mary Parsons (contact volunteer) at the garden on Thursday 27thJune at 11am. It was a beautiful day and we were not disappointed. A very warm welcome awaited the five of us and we were impressed with not only the garden but the enthusiasm and dedication of the other volunteers we met, Gillian Griffiths and Val Thomas.
Mary initially talked about the background of the site and its development into what we saw that day. She explained the layout and content of the garden. They incorporate the formal, functional and aesthetic aspects typical of such a garden in the 18thCentury (all species grown were available in Britain before 1800). It was difficult to imagine that the ½ acre site had been an overgrown wilderness 14 years ago. It had been transformed into a splendid and tranquil walled garden with a spectacular display of colour, fragrance and texture. In addition the paths are flat and pedestrian access easy.
Each of the twelve central medicinal beds contained plants specific to a part of the body or a medical condition. Details of the plants had been carefully researched and catalogued. The care of each bed was well organised with each of the volunteers having a specific bed to nurture throughout the year.
In one of the areas around the perimeter of the garden, the west side, was a dye bed. Several trees including a walnut grew here and Val and Gillian discussed some of the other plants such as dandelion, evening primrose and safflower that had been introduced. We shared information and were given cuttings of Dyer’s Greenwood for our Natural Dye Bed Garden which they are very keen to visit.
It soon became apparent that Gillian was in the process of capturing the beauty and fine details of each of the species grown at Cowbridge in watercolour. Her botanical illustrations are exquisite and it is not surprising that she has received a Gold medal at a RHS show.
Although there are no facilities at the garden the town’s High Street is only a short stroll away with plenty of choice of refreshments etc. The day was very enjoyable and relaxing and we can fully recommend a visit.