We have just come back from a lovely break in Wales where we visited so many amazing different places but my favourite from the week had to be The National Botanic Garden Of Wales. Set in the beautiful countryside of Carmarthenshire these gardens are almost like a scaled down version of The Eden Project. With stunning gardens of varying styles, a butterfly house, play areas, wooded walks, a waterfall to discover and the world’s largest single-span glasshouse there is something here for everyone.
On arrival, we were greeted by a friendly member of staff and paid our entrance fee which was £10.50 for an adult with under 5’s being free. We were given a map and purchased some feed for the ducks. I was so surprised at the sheer size of the gardens when I studied the map and we decided to plan our stops in order to get the most out of the day.
Feeding the ducks came first, of course, but then I very excitedly dragged the boys off to the butterfly house. The number of butterflies inside was astounding. I was only expecting a handful of varieties yet flying all around us were not only native butterflies but also foreign ones that are imported in as caterpillars or cocoons. We were lucky enough to be shown around by the member of staff… because we had a cute child with us! and we were shown where some of the caterpillars were hiding, where the native cocoons were attached and then to the cabinet with the imported ones. We were then fortunate to see a butterfly who was ready to be released from the cabinet having just transformed.
We also learnt that the name for butterfly in welsh is Pilipala- just a fun fact there for you. The plants inside were also magnificent due to the humid temperature that is needed for the butterflies.
From out of the butterfly house, we wandered around the vegetable gardens and out towards the play area to make a certain little person happy. This is located near to the restaurant and toilets which is very handy when you have children. The restaurant offered a variety of hot and cold food and lunch boxes for kids. They even accommodated this fussy pregnant lady by meeting my needs for hot lemon as tea is completely off the menu now.
The large glasshouse is a focal point of the gardens and we were eager to find out what it had in store.
Inside is a warm Mediterranean atmosphere where you can view plants from around the world, admire the water feature and fish and enjoy traditional cuisine from the cafe. If you have visited the Biomes at the Eden Project it is very similar to this. On walking out of here you can either walk ahead and take in the aromatic boulder garden or visit the traditional garden outside the hall.
We then decided to be a little ambitious and wanted to find the waterfall that was hidden inside the woods. We took the route next to the water and through a field… but got lost! We found the map a little tricky to read and there were no signs so we took a slight detour which involved some scrambling across the land but we somehow made it back on track. After a wander through the woods where the path was clearly marked by orange paint, we finally found the waterfall which we never thought we would!
After our trek, we found our way back via the stunning meadow and then through the fairy woods. There is just so much to see here and it seemed as though every time we made another turn there was another feature.
Jake is pretty obsessed with water and he had already spotted the amazing stream of water that runs down the main path of the gardens. So, once back and after a quick afternoon drink we went to admire this fabulous water works which curve down the path and lead to different small ponds but then the channels allow the water to move out and to another pond and so on until it circles around into this fountain at the bottom.
Once back down this end we decided to finish our day with a quick look at the Japanese garden, another visit to the butterfly house and we finished by letting Jake burn off some energy in the straw bales maze… oh and the bigger kid too!
Back inside the butterfly house, I couldn’t believe it when a butterfly with transparent wings flew past me and took a rest on the food table.
There was so much we didn’t quite get time to see and I would love to return to be able to see the rest of what the botanic gardens have to offer. It isn’t just a place for adults either, Jake had a fantastic time looking at the plants, telling us what vegetables were growing, learning about the butterflies and going on a mini-adventure to find the waterfall. This is definitely a great day out for the whole family.
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