We feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to live in this very special place, craft a garden, and learn from the land and the natural world that surrounds us, for so many years now. Along with sharing some of this experience freely through the medium of this website and blog posts, it’s been wonderful to welcome small numbers of friends, family and complete strangers to Gelli Uchaf over many years.
We know that many leave with fond memories and sometimes inspiration gleaned from time spent in this place. This is a great reward for us, which we can balance against the sometimes mundane slog involved in keeping the show on the road, and striving to ensure that next year is, weather permitting, even more exciting.
In 2010 we were delighted to be accepted into the National Garden Scheme (NGS), which enables selected private gardens in England and Wales to open occasionally to the public for charity, and we hope to be able to open under the scheme in future years.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE ONLY OPEN BY PRIOR ARRANGEMENT,
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve had to rethink how we can open the garden safely from now on, and following guidelines from the NGS, this is how we’ll do it at least for 2021. And we all now know that variable national travel restrictions can be brought in at very short notice:
Visits will need to be pre-booked with us in advance, and will involve a specific time for your arrival. Either around 10.30 am arrival or 2.30 pm arrival to allow the average of around two and a half hours which many people seem to spend whilst here, looking around and having a socially distanced natter.
Please try to arrive at the house as close as possible to this allocated time. Directions are given further down this page.
Please observe social distancing rules throughout your visit, should there happen to be any other visitors here, which given the very low numbers of visitors we get, is unlikely. There’s also a simple numbered route around the garden to help to maintain a one way flow of people.
You’re very welcome to bring your own refreshments and enjoy a picnic. We have 8 separate seating options around the garden for visitors to enjoy such refreshments. Or you can pre-book tea/coffee and a selection of Fiona’s scrummy home made cakes.
Please accept that we won’t be able to open every day, so we may have to decline a visit on a particular day, or suggest a different timed slot on a particular day.
If you’d like to visit the garden in 2021, anytime up to the end of October, and subject to changing government restrictions, then please contact us, preferably by email as below, giving us at least 24 hour’s notice.
Do also check weather forecasts before booking – sometimes access to the garden is impossible because of strong winds, heavy rain or snow. We’ve recently discovered the following free global weather app, click on ventusky.com, which seems to give the most accurate weather forecasts for the particular and very local micro-climate here. Type in Rhydcymerau to the search location, and check out all the weather detail options on the left of the screen, for a great idea of what you might experience for your visit.
Please also bear in mind that some parts of the garden are steep and in wet or icy weather parts can become slippery, so do wear appropriate foot wear, and if necessary bring walking sticks, umbrellas and warm clothing.
For 2022, we’re likely to also have a few short notice pop up opening days through the year, from February to October, when the garden is looking really good, and the forecast looks benign. The best way to find out about these is to either follow this blog (click the tab on the homepage), or email us, (as below), and ask to go onto our mailing list about such openings. We’ll only ever have a maximum 5 cars allowed per morning/afternoon slot, so you’ll need to be quick off the mark to bag a space. We also hope to have some under cover seating options should the weather merit it.
To book a garden visit timed slot:
Preferably email us: email@example.com
or phone: 01558 685119
PLEASE DON’T JUST TURN UP – We don’t allow visits from anyone who hasn’t booked a timed slot as above, and you’ll probably have wasted a long journey.
The garden now has millions of bulbs in it, but every year we still plant lots more and have more of a story to tell about snowdrops from our ongoing Welsh historic snowdrop hunt, (click here), so if you’d like to visit, why not plan a trip now with some friends?
The Admission of £5 per person visiting, goes to the half a dozen charities which the NGS supports, click here, centred around nursing charities like Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses.
Julian also set up and managed the website for the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group, (click here), for the first 3 years, which may be of interest to readers. Encouraging more flowers and other wildlife into our meadows is an ongoing project here, with the upper dry, and lower wet hay meadows becoming ever more colourful and florally diverse in mid summer. In 2016 and 2017 we were one of about 120 locations across the UK which opened our meadows (and gardens as well) under the 3 year National Meadows Day initiative.
Click here for a separate website page about “The Hut” at the top of our upper hay meadow, which gives a wonderful selection of images of the changing scene in the local landscape throughout the year.
Garden View pages accessed via the drop down boxes at the top of the home page are designed to give an idea of what you might expect to see through the seasons on a visit to the garden, (as well as being a record for us of how the seasons vary year on year, and how the garden is inevitably changing over time).
Directions to the garden (SA19 7PY for Sat Nav users):
We suggest that you print off these directions and our phone number to bring with you, since some visitors do get lost en-route to us, and mobile reception is a little patchy in the landscape around us!
Approaching from Llandovery –
Take the A40 for Llandeilo. In Llanwrda turn right onto the A482. After about 6 miles immediately before a sharp right hand bend, bear left downhill onto a narrow road to Crugybar and Llansawel. Continue straight on for about 2 miles, and then turn left at the T junction, and immediately right for Llansawel. In Llansawel turn right at the T junction, with the Angel Inn on your left, then continue out of the village, bearing right past the chapel, until you reach Rhydcymerau after about 4 miles. In the village take the left turn signed to Llidiad Nenog. (There is a phone box on the corner which you pass). About 200 yards further on turn right up a half mile farm track immediately beyond a new bungalow – there are 2 mail boxes at the end of our track with house names. The track has rain run off channels (like mini reverse sleeping policemen!), so please drive slowly. Bear right up the hill at the first property to reach Gelli Uchaf which is at the end of the track.
Approaching from Llandeilo –
Take the A40 towards Llandovery and then very quickly take the first left onto the B4302 signed to Talley. Continue along this road through Talley. About a mile beyond Talley turn left onto the B 4337 signed to Llansawel and Llanybydder. You cross the river Cothi almost immediately. Continue straight on through Llansawel, bearing right past the chapel, until you reach Rhydcymerau after about 4 miles. In the village take the left turn signed to Llidiad Nenog. (There is a phone box on the corner which you pass). About 200 yards further on turn right up a half mile farm track immediately beyond a new bungalow – there are 2 mail boxes at the end of our track with house names. The track has rain run off channels (like mini reverse sleeping policemen!), so please drive slowly. Bear right up the hill at the first property to reach Gelli Uchaf which is at the end of the track.
Approaching from Llanybydder –
From the A485 in Llanybydder take the B 4337 towards Llansawel. Follow this for about 4 miles into Rhydcymerau. Take the first turn right in the village opposite a row of bungalows and continue for about 200 yards and then turn right up a half mile farm track immediately beyond a new bungalow – there are 2 mail boxes at the end of our track, with house names. The track has rain run off channels (like mini reverse sleeping policemen!), so please drive slowly. Bear right up the hill at the first property to reach Gelli Uchaf which is at the end of the track.
Approaching from Carmarthen :
Take the A485 from Carmarthen. In Llanllwni take the first turn right, (after the B4436 left turn to Llandysul). This takes you up over Mynydd Llanllwni. Follow this road over the mountain, straight on at all junctions heading for Rhydcymerau, and enjoy some of the best views in Wales! Once you have come down the hill, and just before the village sign on the right, turn left up a half mile farm track immediately before a new bungalow – there are 2 mail boxes at the end of our track, with house names. The track has rain run off channels (like mini reverse sleeping policemen!), so please drive slowly. Bear right up the hill at the first property to reach Gelli Uchaf which is at the end of the track.
Our current You Tube channel compilation clips, (as below), give an idea of the more diverse birdsong and insect soundscape, which has developed as the garden and meadows have matured:
The shorter, minute length clip of video below, from about 7 years earlier from our ‘ImpressionistGarden’ site on You Tube, gives an idea of how the garden has changed over time, yet still remains a very peaceful place.
In November 2017 we were thrilled to hear that our garden was one of just 3 in Wales, and 13 in the UK to be featured in international photographer Claire Takacs’ stunning book of 70 gardens from around the globe, titled “Dreamscapes”.
For the most complete discussion of the garden’s creation and development over the years, you could look at the roughly 45 minute review from June 2021, on the Garden Masterclass You Tube channel, below:
Below are a few of the comments made by visitors to the garden, or website, since we have opened it to the public:
‘Well, my first visit to beautiful Gelli Uchaf, but definitely not the last! Am in absolute awe of the delights on offer, and I don’t just mean the cake, but that also has to have its moment in the sun! What you have achieved in a relatively short time, is amazing. The diverse areas, each with its own distinct character yet all combine seamlessly to make one of the most interesting and charming gardens that I have had the pleasure of visiting.
Thank you to you both, Fiona and Julian, for your warm welcome and for sharing your knowledge and your amazing garden.’ CC, Lampeter – August 2021
‘One of the Best Snowdrop Events to Visit in 2018’ Daily Telegraph. Click here.
‘An oasis of calm and beauty’ NW Brechfa
‘Hard work – beautiful results!’ JB Oregon USA
‘Fabulous garden and wonderful welcome! – delightful touches to the garden – paths, steps, and furniture – Many thanks.’ S4C Wedi 3 Film Crew
‘Whatever you are doing on Friday 4th March, don’t miss watching Gardeners’ World on BBC2 at 8:30 p.m. to see Welsh ‘Secret Garden’ Gelli Uchaf in Carmarthenshire. This delightful gem situated at the centre of a working smallholding is 800 feet above sea level and boasts wonderful views over the Carmarthenshire countryside. Gardeners’ World will be providing viewers with a glimpse behind the science of early spring planting in this characterful, rainbow coloured haven.’ NGS news 2016.
“Wondrous garden. Thanks for your hospitality” Carol Klein & BBC Gardener’s World Team Feb 2016. (Click here for more)
‘Beautiful and inspirational – a hidden gem of a garden’ A & M Cilycwm
‘Magic around every corner’ SC Milford Haven
‘Fascinating hillside garden, beautifully done’ GC Cilgerran
‘They have used colour densely and vibrantly as an impressionist painter might. Drifts of small flowers mimic painting techniques such as pointillism – painting with small dots of colour; foliage patterns resemble short, distinct brush strokes while the changing light, shadow and the moving season is a constant feature, making the garden as fresh and original as the ground-breaking French impressionists themselves.’ Naomi Slade – Amateur Gardening Magazine.
‘Even better than the snowdrops’ R&L Egylwswrw.
‘Lovely spending time in your absolutely beautiful garden’. Claire Takacs, (First International Garden Photographer Of The Year, 2008), Melbourne
‘Forget the perfect trophy garden. Today’s finest landscapes are positively wild…Some of the gardens are lower-key but no less naturalistic or reflective of gentle artistry. In the Welsh hills of Carmarthenshire, Julian and Fiona Wormald have spent 24 years creating a densely planted, multilayered garden of bulbs, perennials and shrubs around their 17th-century Welsh longhouse.’ Adrian Higgins. Washington Post. Click here.
‘As soon as you step out onto the terrace in front of the house – a riotous tapestry of low growing ground-cover plants – it becomes immediately apparent that this is no ordinary garden. Delve a little deeper and you find that this is a garden that brings together real technical innovation and creativity in a way that is all too rare’. Noel Kingsbury. Gardens Illustrated magazine June 2017.
‘Inspiring. Truly wonderful. Such toil and commitment’ D,P&P Abergorlech
‘Truly inspiring and informative morning. So much to see and learn. Lovely country garden and meadows’ C&C Esgairdawe
‘Truly wonderful. Gardens within a garden and amazing plants and natural effects’. M.T. Salem W.I. Group visit.
‘A truly magical garden. Thanks for your hospitality’. G.J.&.P. Llandrindod Wells.
“Fascinating hillside garden, beautifully done.” GC Cilgerran
‘Amazing!’ JF. S.Africa
‘Fantastic Achievement. We will be back!’ J.W.A. Cellan
‘Looking forward to a return visit later in the year.’ J. Kidwelly
‘Stunning garden and impressive work’ S.K. Hampshire
‘ Would like to see the garden in every season’. E.R.D. Llanfair Clydogau
‘Thank You. What an amazing garden. Inspiring.’ K&P London
‘Beautiful day, wonderful setting, inspirational garden and photography’. P&C Talsarn
‘Inspirational! A tribute to years of hard physical effort plus sensitive thoughtful design.’ H&S Cardigan
Some of the images Julian has taken over the years in the garden have formed the basis for a unique range of silk scarves which we design and Fiona makes here. Click here for the separate web page which features the scarves.
We have a very few of our favourite and interesting plants available for visitors to purchase at reasonable prices. We only grow plants which we enjoy and which thrive here, and much in the garden has indeed been propagated by us, including many trees from seeds and perennials from cuttings and divisions. We have a small unheated greenhouse, but all of our plants have to survive in our climate without any real cosseting, and are grown mainly in our own soil/leaf-mould based compost to avoid buying in very much in the way of planting materials.
If you’re travelling a distance, why not also think of visiting these other nearby attractions whilst you’re in the area. We can personally recommend all of them as being both beautiful, unique, and value for money experiences, and are where we take visitors. When we have a day off.
- Aberglasney Gardens. Restored over the last 15 years, in a wonderful setting in the Tywi valley, these acclaimed gardens are a mix of centuries of hard landscaping and contemporary planting, with a mature wooded backdrop. Click here for details. 40 minutes from the garden.
- The National Botanic Garden of Wales. Another massive project developed around the millenium and maturing and improving year on year. Difficult to see it all on one visit, but always something of interest at any time of the year, around a very extensive site. We have become life members, to enjoy its ongoing developments on a regular basis. Click here for details. 50 minutes from the garden.
- The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Stretching from Amroth in the South to St. Dogmaels in the North, this stunning path is listed in the top ten of global hikes. Some rank it as number 2. With stunning scenery for most of the route, interesting towns and villages along the way, and excellent public transport links via the Pembrokeshire Council operated shuttle buses which serve the whole route, small sections can easily be tackled. Much of it is within one and a quarter to one and a half hours drive from our garden. For a brilliant idea of what the scenery is like, follow the link to the wonderful record created by my brother in law, who walked the whole of it in 18 days in the spring of 2013. Click here for the link.
- The Llanerchaeron Estate. About 40 minutes from the garden towards the coast at Aberaeron, this is our favourite National Trust property locally. A pretty, small scale, working self sufficient estate created in the C18th around a beautiful historic early John Nash designed house. Worth visiting for the house, estate and farm buildings and gorgeous, still productive, walled fruit and vegetable garden. Click here for link.
- Dinefwr Park and Castle is the other National Trust property close by which is almost as interesting (about 25 minutes from the garden). A C12th Welsh castle commanding the Towey valley, interesting historic mansion and C18th deer park with both deer and long horned white cattle, located on the doorstep of the lovely town of Llandeilo. Click here for link.
- There are many other lovely private gardens to visit in the local area, opening like us through the NGS. Click here for the NGS garden finder web pages.
Accommodation : There are multiple wonderful accommodation options locally in the beautiful Carmarthenshire scenery for those wishing to stay in the area – hotels, B&B, self catering cottages, etc. We can personally recommend a handful:
Ty Mawr Hotel, Brechfa – Melissa and Paul – Wonderful food and a warm welcome here. Click here for more. 20 minutes from our garden
Forest Arms Brechfa – George and Louise – Another nearby favourite venue with a warm welcome and lovely food. Click here for more. 20 minutes from our garden
Glanrannell Barn Holiday cottages – Andy and Elena – Very close to our garden and with 3 separate cottages which can be hired individually or together, at very reasonable rates. Click here for more. 15 minutes from our garden
Dildre Cottages – David and Cecelia – Click here for their gorgeously located holiday accommodation with stunning views, built by David to a very high standard. 40 minutes from our garden
Abermarlais Caravan Park – Tanya and Stephen. A beautifully located peaceful site in the Twyi valley. Click here for more. 30 minutes from our garden