Dyffryn Gardens — Greenhouses — Cardiff, South Wales

Following on from Roath Park Conservatory, the next place on our South Wales list was to investigate the cacti collection at Dyffryn Gardens, a National Trust attraction a little further round the coast towards Barry. The glasshouse here wasn't on our original list but we'd been sent an intriguing picture of the building by fellow nature-fiend Ken Marten and since he was so right about the other places to visit, we trusted his intuition.* 

Our visit was greenhouse-centric and so we did a sweeping tour of the house (it's currently being restored from it's former life as a conference centre) and headed through the many garden rooms to our green-filled goal. 

We were beaten to the glasshouse by streams of sunlight that were bathing the cacti in great lines of bright, warm light with shadows cast by the structure of the roof. After admiring the rusty tones and that glaucous greeny-blue-colour of the cacti we turned to the open door beside us... The Orchid house. 

The Orchid house was flooded with the same sunshine, only this time through the UV netting hung above our heads, as well as being flooded underfoot - presumably to create the humidity the plants needed. There was a great big old Monstera, making good friends with a Ficus (benjamina, or Weeping Fig) and some pretty incredible Begonias. 

Dyffryn Gardens offered us a short but quite sweet taste of the exotic; had we not been racing to find the sea we would surely have found ourselves a secret spot in the gardens to enjoy an ice cream and a sit down... But we like to keep moving and so we did. 

*Thanks Ken!