Wed, July 21st, 2021
Summer Season is in Full Swing
Our busy streak has continued so you might have noticed a change recently at the entrance to the gardens. Guy Sharp (the maintenance manager) and Martin Davies (usually a tour guide) have worked flat out this month to build a brand new ticket office in time for the school holidays. This larger office can now accommodate two members of staff with two tills to make entry swifter and alleviate the problem of long queues. This has meant that we have expanded our staff team. To help us out over the busy summer months we have appointed 3 new ticket office assistants Sinead, Katie and Ellie. We have also appointed a new tour guide, Angela and our garden team will be doubling in size by September with Mia, Richard and Matthew joining us. We are a very small team at Picton so we are thrilled to be growing in size.
Word has definitely gotten out about Picton Castle Gardens and all we have to offer. We are certainly getting more visitors and we have also had a lot of enquiries from television crews looking to film here which is very exciting! We have closed the castle for public tours on two days this month because we have had the BBC here filming two of our favourite daytime TV shows; Bargain Hunt and The Antiques Road Trip! The Bargain Hunt team came to film some segments about a few of our more interesting antiques but we cannot reveal what pieces will be featured until it is aired later in the year. We will let you know when it can be viewed on iPlayer this Autumn. The Antiques Road Trip were filming in the area in June. The experts bought items in antique shops around Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire to take to auction and raise money for Children in Need. Due to Covid restrictions the auction took place online so the TV producers wanted a beautiful backdrop for their experts to watch the results of their sales come in on their iPads. There was no better place for them to do this locally than by the fire in Picton’s Great Hall.
On Saturday 17th July our eagerly awaited Walled Garden courtyard with its beautiful glasshouse, bat hotel, bothy buildings and fernery were opened to the public. Work started on this area way back in 2018 so it feels like we have been waiting an extremely long time for this moment. We were lucky enough to get a generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to partly pay for this project and the new buildings will provide us with space for school groups and workshops as well as providing another element to the Picton experience for our visitors. The gardeners have transplanted the informative medicinal bed into this space and the glasshouse is full to the brim with tropical plants. We will also be serving food and coffees at the far end of the walled garden courtyard throughout the summer holidays. Head Gardener, Roddy Milne ran an extremely popular tour focusing on the restoration of the walled garden earlier this month. These tours sold out in record time and we have had some wonderful feedback from those who attended. His next tour will be on 14th September entitled: Exotics: Latecomers to the Party and there are still a few limited spaces available.
The Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo have rescued some incredibly cute new animals this month. You may have read about the closure of Borth Zoo this year. All of the animals needed to find new homes and we have rescued this family of Marmoset monkeys. Their enclosure at Borth was little more than a small garden shed without any outside space. So Jim Wale and his team at the Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo have built them a lovely new home with a large netted enclosure amongst the trees for them to explore. This means that these beautiful, intelligent and inquisitive creatures now have trees to climb, a comfortable home to sleep in and can experience a more natural environment for the first time. Witnessing how much happier they appear in their new space has been really rewarding for the team. They are highly intelligent primates who get easily bored, with a very inquisitive nature so each morning a member of staff will hide the marmoset’s favourite foods, sap, fruits, vegetables, flowers, leaves and insects around the enclosure for them to find. They have really enjoyed their daily treasure hunt. Unfortunately it is still technically legal to own a marmoset as a pet in the UK without any sort of zoo licence but new laws are coming in to make this illegal. It is almost impossible to provide the rich and complex natural environment they come from but at least these miniature monkeys now have more than they have ever had before at Picton. They have settled in beautifully and appear to love their new home so it is well worth visiting them when you are next here.
If you visited Picton earlier this month then you may have noticed an extremely large marquee on our North Lawn. This was the largest marquee we have ever constructed at Picton and it was for an extremely joyous occasion; our first wedding of the year! It was also one of the quickest weddings we have ever organised. The happy couple called us on the day that the Welsh Assembly changed Covid restrictions for marquee wedding ceremonies. This was just 3 weeks before the date they wanted to hold the wedding! Our challenge was to accommodate 160 guests in a marquee large enough to allow for social distancing and comply with the new rules. The preparation went well and the weather could not have been more perfect. The couple were lucky enough to celebrate their wedding over 2 days. They had a traditional Hindu ceremony on Wednesday 14th July in the marquee and then held the legal wedding ceremony on Saturday 17th July inside the Castle with an elegant champagne reception to follow. We are really looking forward to next summer as we already have 6 weddings booked in during the summer months.
We have decided to add some extra attractions to the gardens over the summer months. You may have already come across our miniature fair on the North Lawn. We have a sweet stall and vintage fair ground games as well as a new picnic area with chairs and tables. We will be getting delivery of a helter skelter later this week too so make sure you visit us while it is here!
Our last twilight evening was a huge success so we are holding two more next month on Wednesday 4th August and Wednesday 18th August. Maria will be serving up some tasty treats (table bookings essential), the Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo will be running animal displays and handling sessions and the gift shop and galleries will be open. These evenings provide the opportunity for you to enjoy the gardens after hours with a lovely atmosphere. We will remain open until 9pm and admission will be half price after 5pm. We hope you can join us!