enquiries@tywigateway.org.uk Parc a Gerddi yr Esgob, Abergwili, Sir Caerfyrddin SA31 2JG

Jenkinson Garden

Greeting visitors to Bishop’s Park is one of the site’s major highlights – the Jenkinson Garden.  This very special place has been designed to pay homage to the formal garden created here during Bishop John Jenkinson’s tenure between 1825 and 1840.  This was the last time in its history the site underwent major landscaping works, and our new entrance garden takes its cues from Jenkinson’s design, clearly marked in the area on the estate map of 1843, shown below.

An entrance fit for a Bishop…

Before the Trust took over the site in 2018 this area was an unloved and largely untended spot, overgrown with rough grass, invasive shrubs and weeds hiding an early C20th tennis court beneath! As the area greeting visitors to the site, being the welcome for both the Trust and Carmarthen Museum, we knew that we had to create something special that would leave a lasting impression. Something also that would reflect our history and our heritage, whilst highlighting our shared priorities for the future – community, conservation and sustainability.

Inspired by history…

In 2019 the Trust set to work, in collaboration with Cardiff-based landscape architects TACP, on a redesign that would wow visitors, drawing them from the historic entrance to the new visitor centre in the old palace outbuildings. Then, in 2021, Afan Landscapes were contracted to bring these plans and drawings to life.

With no records of exactly what Bishop Jenkinson planted in his garden our Head Gardener, Piers Lunt, has drawn inspiration from a variety of historical sources (including John Claudius Laudon’s An Encyclopaedia of Plants of 1843) to design a planting scheme that would be recognisable to Bishop Jenkinson and his gardeners.

© Caryl Thomas (also photo top of page)
the garden today

The garden today has several distinct features that visitors can enjoy, including a beech hedge placed to provide tempting views into the garden and Park beyond. At the heart of the garden two small herb borders, planted with a mix of culinary and medicinal plants, link the design with the history of sustainable kitchen gardening at the palace, whilst providing visitors with a sensory experience. These borders are also interplanted with various spring bulbs, including crocuses.

In a ring around the herb garden four mixed borders, riots of colourful perennials with heritage roses at their centres, catch the eye.

These plants have all been carefully selected to match, as closely as possible, those that would have been available to Bishop Jenkinson’s gardeners in the 1830s.

Jenkinson garden through the seasons

Spring boasts species tulips and crocuses pushing up their flowers, bringing the garden to life when most other plants are still asleep. By summer day lilies bring splashes of buttery yellow, reflecting the greater levels of sunlight lengthening days bring. Mid-summer and the roses are in full swing, passionate reds and deep magentas carrying their scents enticingly. Late summer heats up as asters, rudbeckias and heleniums bring fiery tones to the garden, against a backdrop of ornamental grasses and globe artichokes. In winter the beech hedge holds leaves of golden brown, the evergreen box providing deep green therapy through the greyest, coldest and wettest months.

© Suzie Fraser

It’s not only at ground and eye levels, however, that the design is intended to provide year-round interest.

Look up and you’ll see two pergolas cloaked in roses and clematis, and connected to these, espalier posts supporting apple and pear trees chosen for their suitability to our climate, including Welsh heritage varieties.

Wildlife & beauty…

But the garden was never intended as solely a feast for the eyes. One of the unsung benefits of using historic plant varieties is the fact that they are often far better for wildlife than their highly bred, modern counterparts.

And with bees thronging hedge germander and sweet peas, butterflies feeding on verbena, helenium and rudbeckia, and a host of invertebrates cosying up in stems left to stand over winter, the wildlife sharing this area of the garden with us is as much a delight as the plants themselves.

We are increasing our native wildflower populations here too, with the garden ringed by newly created meadows planted with swathes of native spring bulbs. Return again and again to see how they develop, and to see what – and who – you can spot within them throughout the growing season.

© Aled Llywelyn

Take a moment to relax and enjoy…

We hope that you take a moment or three to relax on one of the new oak benches in the Jenkinson Garden. Breathe in the atmosphere of history and horticulture; drink in the scents and beauty of the plants around you; and listen to the gentle hum of borders alive with pollinators, in this lovingly restored garden.

And before heading off on a voyage of discovery into the Park, woodland and Great Meadow, why not pop in to the visitor centre for tea and cake – or perhaps something more – and pick up a Park map to find your way around.

There’s plenty to see and do at Bishop’s Park, whatever the time of year.