Chirk, Clwyd, LL14 5AF.
This can be a very windy place according to one of its owners Lady Margaret Myddleton and this is why the parkland has fairly dense trees to provide a windbreak. The formal gardens are now so mature that I’m sure that even on the windiest of days the topiary can be enjoyed in a light breeze but no matter anytime of the year would be a good time to visit.
Yes it’s a castle and a very fine one too. Built at the time when the English Kings wanted to keep the Welsh out of England and showed their power by building state of the art edifices. Unlike many a medieval castle in Wales however, this one is not a ruin and has been lived in continuously up to the present day. I know I say this about all the houses but go inside if you can. I particularly liked the long gallery but you might like the plaster work or the paneling, anyway this is a grand home by anybodies standards.
But its the topiary you’ve come to see of course. Some are said to look like Welsh ladies hats. I’ll leave you to decide.
The main specimens are big anyway and take a team of gardeners from mid August until October to clip them.
Gardening in earnest began at Chirk in 1653 when Sir Thomas Myddleton, a general who had done rather well out of the Civil War thank you very much, laid out a formal pleasure garden for the amusement of himself and his friends. This included a bowling green surrounded by several banqueting houses.In 1708 Sir Richard started the topiary craze by establishing a sunken parterre in the shape of a fleur -de-lis near to the castle.
All photographs by Anthony Blagg