The Ceredigion Branch organises one public lecture per year, which is given at the Annual General Meeting in early spring. There are also at least three field excursions to local gardens during the summer months. These may be private gardens not open to the public or private visits to better-known gardens. In every case the visit has a scholarly character, with a talk on the garden history and condition from the owner, where possible, and additional archival research by members of the Branch. Our members include experts in many relevant fields including geology, botany and landscape so we usually all learn a great deal from each other.
Saturday 30 March, 2.30pm AGM and Public lecture at Waun Fawr Community Hall
The Reverend Thomas Birch Freeman, Victorian Botanist and Plantsman
by Advolly Richmond
Thomas Birch Freeman (1809 - 1890), was a celebrated Wesleyan Methodist missionary of Anglo-African descent, who was the first Christian missionary to be admitted into the Ashanti Kingdom in 1839, and who founded churches and schools in Nigeria and the Gold Coast.
His contribution to botany and horticulture has been overshadowed by his religious legacy. He had trained as a botanist and at the age of 28 was head gardener at Orwell Park near Ipswich, Suffolk, before embarking on missionary work. Advolly’s ongoing research explores how he became part of the international network of correspondents and plant collectors relied upon by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Wednesday 8 May Visit to Strata Florida, 2.00pm £5 per person
This is a significant moment in the story of this ancient and numinous place. In their joint project to
revitalise this centre of Welsh culture and landscape, the Prince’s Foundation and the Strata Florida
Trust have commissioned a Conservation Management Plan and Options Appraisal for the area
acquired by the Trust, including the Abbey Farmhouse and adjacent farmyard. Surveys have been
carried out on all the buildings and refurbishment of one is in hand.
We meet at 2.00pm in the carpark (SN745657 SY25 6ES). Professor David Austin, Trust Chairman
will update us on the research and plans for the site, before leading a tour of the
immediate environs. Historic garden interest is focused on two key horticultural phases here – the
monastic gardens of the Cistercians, and the putative Tudor/Stuart gardens of the post-Dissolution era
when the Stedman family owned the estate.
Booking form Here.
Tuesday 4 June Visit to Gelli Aur, Carmarthenshire at 11.30am £15 per person to include lunch.
Gelli Aur (Golden Grove) is one of the county’s great estates. Wyatville’s c.1830 house (in what
H.M. Vaughan called a ‘florid Gothic style’) is set in stunning parkland. It became an agricultural
institute in 1952 and is now privately owned. The Country Park to the west of the mansion has
recently reopened with an excellent café (and a carpark). We meet here to visit the Arboretum,
begun in the 1860s, with many veteran and champion trees. Ivor Stokes will be our guide.
Lunch is provided in the café (see overleaf for menu). In the afternoon we have the rare
privilege of a visit to the walled kitchen garden near the site of the original house with its
champion Liriodendron tulipifera.
Directions: In Golden Grove village S of B4300 take L-hand turn to Country Park. SN596198 SA32 8LR.