Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ynys Mon

While we stopped to get gas in downtown Bala, Else and I went roaming a side street with our cameras. I won't bother you with all the photos I took of one wall, but here's one. Given how many I took, it certainly explains how I came home with 7500 photos.

Wall in downtown Bala

We were headed to Anglesey (the modern British name) or Ynys Mon, the island that forms the northwest corner of Wales. It was the seat of the Druids and the last part of Wales to fall to the Romans (in AD 61). 

On the way to Ynys Mon

The Romans actually pretty much eradicated the Druids and almost everything we know about them is represented through a negative Roman and later Christian lens. Ynys Mon was the center of Celtic religion, ritual, education, and healing. 

Menai Bridge upper right and old cemetery lower left

It is separated from mainland Wales by the narrow Menai Strait. We only visited the eastern end of the island and still managed to see quite a variety of things.

English border

We went to a manor house (now a B&B) with a huge garden that is being restored. We showed up to find it wasn't open, but the gardener (one guy does almost all the work on this place) let us in anyway and gave us some history.

Allium (onion family)

He and I had a conversation about planning perennial borders. He was obviously moving some plants around that day, so I said that when I first was designing gardens I had been so relieved to find out that many a famous English designer moved plants around. There is no assumption that you plant something and then walk away.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

It's difficult to know exactly where a plant will be happy and sometimes you have to experiment - no matter how much you know. He pointed to some pink flowers (can't remember what they were) and asked my opinion. 

I didn't take a photo of the offending pink flowers

I said the color didn't go well with the rest of the border. He said that he was thinking that and that he was going to move them elsewhere that afternoon. But try to convince an American client that you might have to experiment! Not a chance!

Sea Holly - "Miss Wilmott's Ghost"

Miss Wilmott is said to have gone into other people's gardens and spread seeds of Sea Holly. It is said that once it establishes, it will haunt your garden forever.

A bit of the garden junk pile

This garden had been neglected to the point of disappearing and, through records, they were bringing it back to life. 

Formal garden

When I was studying landscape architecture I thought that I might be interested in historic garden restoration. Most of it happens in the east or in Europe.

Terry and Maureen eating lunch by the Gunnera

There was a large "wilder" hilly wooded section with a stream. Most large gardens had room for different styles. 

Dwarf apples

It also had an informal orchard and a kitchen garden. The garden was just above the town of Beaumaris, which had, of course, a castle.

Beaumaris Castle

This was cool because it was the only one we saw with a moat. And they'd put another playground right next to it. Lucky kids.

What fun!

This all looked out on the northern end of the strait and back the way we'd come on the mainland.

We got here driving along the base of those mountains

I love that sailboat

Then we went to the Bryn Celli Ddu neolithic burial chamber. We were supposed to write there, but by now it was raining and there wasn't room inside for a group write.

Terry looking out the "back" door

This is sitting out in a field - surrounded by sheep, of course - and you can go inside. Terry and Phyllis both did some writing in there.

Burial chamber entrance

Phyllis writing in the burial chamber

I just liked standing in it with my eyes closed. I thought it might feel claustrophobic - under rock and soil and quite small - but it didn't. The name means "mound in the dark grove" and it was plundered in 1699. There's no dark grove there now. There was also a stone henge but there's only one stone now.

One standing stone left

But there was this sheep standing vigil in the rain

We found a pub and did some writing.

Preparing to write


We headed back through that valley bordered by mountains as seen in a previous photo. Beautiful, but desolate and I don't think this stone cottage was inhabited.

Remote cottage

And we had dinner in Betys y Coed again and the restaurant had this great piano with these wonderful candle holders for light.

Piano candleholder

And, of course, no day is complete without heading to the pub or the garden hot spot for wifi - even in the rain.

Phyllis and Jerry trying to contact their daughters


Next post - Druids!

No comments:

Post a Comment