Garden blogs

Growing the Future Newsletter – October 17


Welcome to Growing the Future‘s latest newsletter, if you’d like to receive it directly to your inbox, sign-up here.

See the full newsletter here.

Apple Weekend

The National Botanic Garden of Wales again plays host to the largest apple display in Wales this year, on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of October.

Visitors to Apple Weekend can expect to see a stunning range of apple varieties and have the chance to taste some very special apples.  If you’ve ever wondered what kind of apple is in your garden, bring along one of your apples.  You’ll then have the chance of having it identified by our Apple Weekend experts, who this year are joined by Linda Roberts, the former Head Gardener of Snowshill Manor in the Cotswolds.  Paul Davis of Dolau Hirion Nurseries will also be giving advice about the varieties to grow in your garden, as well as selling a selection of Welsh apple tree varieties.

We’re also delighted to be promoting Carwyn Graves’ brand-new book “Apples of Wales”.  This dual-language delight highlights an almost forgotten history of Welsh orchards, cider and Welsh apple varieties.

Carwyn says “Wales has a unique heritage when it comes to apples.  The earliest direct mention of apples comes in our myths (Mabinogion) and in the laws of Hywel Dda, where an apple tree is declared to have the same value as 60 lambs or 15 pigs!  And from the seventeenth century onwards a native cider tradition blossomed in the south-east, to the point where an early twentieth-century preacher could still decry Breconshire as the ‘cider-besotten county’!

Apples, orchards, cider – these were a part of Welsh culture for centuries on end.  Present in our myths, stories, landscapes and in daily life for countless generations.  And to top this, tens of uniquely Welsh varieties of apple were developed, each with their own names, such as ‘Gwell na mil’, ‘Marged Niclas’ and ‘Baker’s Delicious’.”

Carwyn will be giving a talk about the history of apples in Wales on the first day of the Apple Weekend, Saturday 20th October at 2pm.  He’ll also be on hand to sign copies of his book which will be on sale in the Garden’s gift shop.

Visitors will also get the chance to have a go at pressing apples with the Growing the Future Project’s own apple press and join in with fun traditional games such as apple bobbing, apple bird feeders and apple peeling as part of our Activities for All – activities for adults, children and families.  They’ll also get to try and buy locally-produced cider from Afal y Graig Cider, and talk to the Garden’s volunteer beekeepers who value the role bees have in pollinating the Garden’s developing Welsh Heritage Orchard.

Apple Weekend is part of the Growing the Future project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.  This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The Garden is open from 10am to 6pm with last entry at 5pm. Admission to the Garden is £14.50 (including Gift Aid) for adults and this includes entry to the new British Birds of Prey attraction. Under 5s are free and parking is free for all.


Garden Plants of Distinction: Perennials Course – SPACES AVAILABLE

On Saturday, October 20th, join the Botanic Garden’s Curator, Will Ritchie, for a Garden Plants of Distinction Course.

Garden centres and nurseries contain a wealth of plants of every hue and form.  Finding the best plants for your garden can be a daunting task.  This course aims to celebrate the diversity of perennials available on the market and highlight some of the Curator’s top picks.

A simple guide to finding the best perennials for your border or planter will also be included and the course will conclude with a visit to the Garden’s nurseries..

Booking is essential.  10am-2pm.  £40 (£36 Concessions & Garden Members) – for more information, including how to book, please call 01558 667150 or email


Bee Garden Cosmetics and Candle Making Courses

If you’d like to learn how to create your own beautiful handmade gifts this Christmas we have a wonderful range of Bee Garden Cosmetics, Introduction to Candle Making and Introduction to Candle Dipping courses.

From homemade lip balms and body butters to handmade dipped beeswax candles, you’ll really impress your loved ones this year with help from Growing the Future’s Ecosystems Trainer, Lynda Christie!

Please visit the Growing the Future page on the Botanic Garden’s website for more information on dates.


Plantable Pencils!

Our plantable pencils have finally started sprouting!

These fab sprouting pencils are available to buy in Garden’s Gift Shop and are available in 9 different varieties, which include: Basil, Coriander, Sage, Chia, Thyme, Tomato, Carnation, Forget Me Not and Sunflower!  £2.50 each.

Simply write, draw and doodle until only the stub is left, then plant upside down and watch it spring to life!