Plantasia — Swansea, South Wales
Our approach to the next greenhouse on our South Wales trip was certainly an odd and unexpected one. We pulled into a retail park that (and this is putting it politely) was a little worse for wear, parked up and fought our way through what felt a little like the start of a horror film. This half of the retail park has long been deserted, aside from an Odeon cinema and a council-run tourist attraction called Plantasia. We walked with eyes/jaws wide open at the ghost of Deep Pan Pizza and into the belly of the old shopping centre and through to a much more familiar sight...
We recovered fairly quickly from our slightly strange walk across the car park and soon found ourselves well and truly at home under the canopy of glass and foliage. Cascading vines dripped all around us and bamboo stretched high, leading our eyes upwards - the mix of concrete and thick white pillars reminded us of the Barbican Conservatory in London. The main point of difference here was that we were almost completely alone; something that I'm sure is a rarity back in the capital.
Set around a central pond, the paths guide you around and up into the jungle, with a short venture into a drier climate where the cacti live (with a bizarre view of Toys R Us through the glass).
Behind a black PVC curtain was a really loud collection of parrots - did you know that a group of parrots is called a 'pandemonium'?! It seems to suit them exactly. We hung out with those guys for a little while and eventually headed off into the safety (and relative quiet) of the main jungle room.
Unsurprisingly Plantasia has an uncertain future; the council are currently debating the budget allocations to such attractions so we advise you to visit while you still can - of course it's always worth checking their website before making a trip. We paid £3.95 each for entrance.