Wales’ Hidden Gardens
There are many tales of people finding forgotten gardens, from Heligan in Cornwall, rediscovered in 1990, down to small suburban gardens full of rarities. But at Dewstow House in South Wales the forgotten garden is underground, and it's huge.
The 7-acre Dewstow Gardens were created around the turn of the century by "James Pulham & Sons" landscapers, Rock Builders and Garden Designers who used to specialise in picturesque rock gardens, constructed from both natural and artificial rock.
Underground and entirely from scratch they made a series of tunnels, caverns and tufa grottoes, some with Italianate fountains, formal pools and balustrades, others dripping with ferns and artificial stalactites. Water flowed from one cavern to the other, often turning the paths between into a series of stepping stones. Some areas were almost pitch black, and others lit by skylights above. One cavern even had a great glass dome sticking up above ground.
In addition to gardens labyrinth of underground grottoes, tunnels and sunken ferneries, above ground has a series of six large pools, a ravine and stumpery - an area created with tree stumps.
Dewstow Gardens are near the village of Caerwent, where the remains of a 44 acre Roman City site can be seen. Known to the Romans as Venta Silurum, the city became the tribal capital of the Silures. Caerwent developed on the main route to the legionary fortress of Caerleon which was originally built to subdue the powerful Silures. Visitors can walk along long stretches of the wall which still rises to 5 metres high in places. The remains of shops, a courtyard house, Romano-Celtic Temple and the Forum Basilica can be explored. Much of the 'modern' village is built from 'robbed' Roman stone.
It is a delightful place to visit and there are information panels at the key sites.