The visit had been arranged by Mair and Iola; there was a short introduction and the meeting was put in the hands of Twm Elias, of Plas Tan y Bwlch, who gave us the history of Plas Tan y Bwlch and some interesting stories going back over the generations. He explained about the original building, how the area was landscaped to tie in with this property and how the river in the valley was moved to give better landscaping across the valley. He mentioned the slate quarries that funded the lavish lifestyle of a couple of the owners and that the current property was built on this site and was the location for some very lavish parties with £10,000 being spent a year on flowers for the parties.
After many amusing anecdotes he brought us to modern times and the fact that this is now the Snowdonia National Park Centre (there is a similar one at Loosehill in the Peak District). It was purchased with some land and the site is now used for training courses with Local Authorities, the Park, Forestry Commission, Fire Service, Voluntary bodies, Ecologists, Consultants and many more organisations including schools.
Twm then gave us a guided tour of the gardens. These are managed organically and the Plas is very proud of its successes. It helped start the Snowdonia Wildlife Gardening competition which has now spread to Gwynedd and Conwy. There are requests to start a similar competition in NE Wales. Twm told us about the protection they have given the trees, removal of the Ponticum to favour the other Rhododendrons and Azaleas. He mentioned how they have managed a large pond for wildlife and how they have created a series of wildflower meadows.
The tour finished with cake and as much tea and coffee as we could drink (bearing in mind the trip home!) all for the inclusive cost of £5. Yet another good FCA visit. The Chairman thanked all those involved in helping the afternoon run so smoothly.
click on thumbnails for a larger view:
© Les Starling