The pleasure gardens of Moor Park
PUBLISHED: 10:46 12 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:07 20 February 2013
Moor Park is breathtaking in its beauty but this is a place for laughter and fun, rather than show, says Sharon Chilcott
A riot of autumn colour, the gardens at Moor Park take full advantage of a picture-perfect setting in the Vale of Grwyney in Powys.
The Grade II* listed property is the home of Leolin Price Q.C., who enjoys sharing his breathtaking surroundings with family and friends as well as visitors and is an enthusiastic participant in the National Gardens Scheme, opening the grounds annually for charity.
His daughter Sophie who lives at the house with her young family, said: It isnt a precious garden with carefully weeded borders with specimens to admire, it is a garden that is enjoyed and one to have fun in. The boys play cricket, football and rugby on the lawns, the pony club runs a mini camp here in the summer and the local school come to look at the wildlife, flowers and kitchen garden.
The gardens were created by Leolin Price and his wife Lindy in the early 1980s when they acquired the house. Sophie said: It was a rather long, slow process as the drainage and the lakes had been silted up over the years and much of the ground was very wet or bog.
The garden and park are shared with an array of animals, including a pair of black swans, a breed which originates from Australia, where Leolin is Queens Counsel. Continuing the colour scheme, he also has a flock of Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. Sophie added: We keep pigs in the wood, and have a mixture of horses and ponies that we hunt, event and play polocrosse on. We have two dogs an elderly Dalmatian and her son who is crossed with a Labrador and a number of cats and chickens.
There are also peacocks, which Sophie admits provide a challenge in the spring and summer for their part-time kitchen gardener, Pam Clewett. Once the peahen nests, we provide a run with the chickens. I was once told by a famous gardener that you cannot have a show garden if you have children or peacocks!
The garden is laid out with a water garden and lakes, which attract nesting ducks, moorhens, geese and herons in the spring. There is a lovely woodland walk and a romantic walled garden, dating from 1760. This is a magical place with organic vegetables and fruit trees, including plums, figs, apricots, greengages, apples and pears. It provides produce and cut flowers for the house and includes recently-introduced beehives.
Leolin added the Lindy Theatre and the Lindyhouse (treehouse) after his wife died in 1999 and, said Sophie: They provide gorgeous places for contemplation, reading and fun for the children.
Specimen trees provide a majestic feature of the gardens and include an oriental plane planted at the same time as the house built in 1760. There are magnificent oaks in the park as well as two tulip trees and (planted 30 years ago) a gingko, and a monkey puzzle.
There are also two tree peonies and a collection of peonies in the south border which were started by my grandmother, Lady Brecon and came from her garden in Cross Oak, Talybont. My mothers collection of dahlias provides colour before the roses come and a mix of aquilegia, some more unique than others, multiply each year, said Sophie.
Moor Park is a garden for all seasons. Not only is it a sight to behold with its changing autumn colours but, added Sophie: The sculptured, snowy shapes last winter were quite magical. In spring, the park and wood are filled with carpets of snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and bluebells and then wild orchids and snakeshead fritillaries raise their shy heads in the long grass. And the summer, with the sheer enjoyment of visiting children, family and friends, sees the garden full of laughter and activity.
Moor Park gardens are open annually for the NGS. Next year they open on May 27. The gardens can also be seen by appointment, with a donation to the NGS, and the family intend to make them available as a wedding venue, inspired by the wonderful wedding there earlier this year of their groundsman and shepherd, Andrew Jones. For details phone: 01873 810443.
Pictures by Michael Fieldsend