Castle Nursery and old walled garden, Bute Park

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Architect's impression of Bute Park education centre,
by James Lockwood

From this position in the park you can see a long garden wall, built in 2011 as part of construction of the park’s new Education Centre (pictured right). It picks up the theme of a walled ‘secret garden’. The centre's roof, poking slightly above the wall, has solar panels and part is covered in grass! These features help minimise the building’s impact on the environment.

An earlier walled garden, built sometime between 1906 and 1913, was behind the new garden wall. Here the Bute estate’s gardeners cultivated fruit and vegetables for the family and guests. Whenever the family resided at its Scottish estates, produce grown here made the long journey north by train! The climate in Cardiff was more favourable for growing than in Scotland.

The garden’s north wall had two skins of bricks and was heated, for peaches to grow in a “peach house”. There were three glasshouses, and cloches for strawberries and other soft fruits. Cut flowers from the garden adorned Cardiff Castle, part-time residence of the Bute family.

The area beyond the garden wall is now Cardiff’s horticultural nursery. Many thousands of plants for the city are produced and distributed from here – it’s a riot of colour and activity at peak growing times. The working nursery isn’t open to the public but you can see part of it through large windows in the Education Centre. The centre’s open to the public at set times. Go through the carved door in the wall and turn right (you’ll also find the Secret Garden Café in the courtyard).

Before you enter, notice the small circular ornamental garden. This is the Stuttgart Garden, named after one of Cardiff’s twin cities. It was created by apprentices who came to Cardiff on an exchange visit in 2006.

The site before the restoration work.
Stuttgart Garden in foreground

If you look carefully at the corner of the wall to the left of the entrance, you may detect a slight difference in the bricks’ colour. This is where the new south wall joins the older west wall. Reclaimed bricks were used to make the new wall look well established and in keeping with its environment.

The photo (left) shows how the site looked before the 2011 Bute Park Restoration Project work. Many people now comment that the new wall looks as though it’s been there forever! The roses that grow up the new wall recreate the rose trellises which once adorned the old garden’s south and east sides.

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To continue the Bute Park tour, walk through the doorway in the garden wall, past the People’s Door. You’ll find the QR code on the inside of the courtyard wall Navigation next button