During half term, we visited Picton Castle and Gardens. I’m surprised that I’ve never blogged about these beautiful grounds before. It’s a place that I came to a lot as a child (I remember once asking very loudly, “Why is there a sheep in here?” as I spotted a large poodle!) and during my adulthood before kids. I loved taking a young Danny and Rebecca here. I have happy memories of different events over the years, such as watching outdoor theatre shows, dressing up as “Alice in Wonderland” and taking part in craft events. However, since being a family of six, we haven’t visited as often as it can work out quite expensive for us all to visit frequently during the summer months. Thankfully, the winter months are more affordable (and quieter) so we thought we’d pay a visit. Ideally, we’d visit all year round to see the woodland and gardens in every changing season.
Visiting Picton Castle and Gardens
Picton Castle and Gardens, Pembrokeshire (Satnav: SA62 4AS), can be found off the A40, three miles East of Haverfordwest. Parking is free and there are lots of spaces.
Picton Castle is open all year round with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. It may also close on occasion due to adverse weather conditions ( always check ahead before travelling from far).
The gardens and The Welsh Owl Garden are currently open from 10 am till 4 pm every day. Maria’s restaurant is open daily. Winter tours of the castle are currently taking place at 12 noon and 1 pm.
Winter admission prices (2nd Jan- 5th April 2020) are as follows:
Family £14.00 (2 adults and 2 children)
This includes access to all 40 acres of beautiful woodland gardens and The Welsh Owl Garden (in the past this used to be a separate charge).
Pembrokeshire is a great county to visit if you want to see lots of different types of castles. Picton Castle is quite unusual as it is a fully developed medieval castle that was transformed into a stately home in the 18th century. Sir John Wogan moved here from Wiston Castle at the end of the 13th century. Since the 1490s Picton has been the centre of the Philipps family’s estates. Throughout the 17th and 18th Century the Philipps’s of Picton Castle were the most powerful family in Pembrokeshire. The castle remained the centre of the Philipps family’s operations in Pembrokeshire up until the end of the 20th century. The Honourable Hanning Philipps and his wife Lady Marion Philipps were the last members of the family to live in the castle and they were the ones who gifted the castle, its collections and gardens to The Picton Castle Trust in 1987.
We enjoy the castle tours but just explored the woodland and garden grounds during this visit as after our chickenpox quarantine fresh air was greatly needed.
Picton Castle Garden and Woodlands
There were lots of activities taking place as it was half term and “Wildlife Week”. We had arrived too late for the storytime in the gardens and craft in the courtyard but could still take part in “Sally Squirrel’s Acorn Trail” which was a great way to encourage the kids to explore the grounds and not just spend all day in the maze and playground (which they could quite easily have done!). There were also owl displays on the castle lawn. At all times of the year there are events taking place at Picton Castle. Follow their social media to stay up to date.
The colour in the gardens is absolutely stunning. I wanted to take a photo of the kids in front of the pink camellias but they’d already run ahead looking for their next clue.
They’re absolutely beautiful.
In Edwardian times it was fashionable to grow large, jungle type plants in elaborate and exuberant bedding schemes in public parks and wealthy gardens, and at Picton Castle, the Jungle Garden continues to this day. I’m always impressed by the size of the giant leaves on some of the older plants.
Jon Foreman’s Scult Your World
Days before our visit, local artist Jon Foreman: Sculpt Your World had also paid a visit and created a special piece of art at Picton Castle. The aptly named Fraxinus was constructed using felled ash trees from these very grounds.
It’s a beautiful piece of natural art. I would have liked to have been taller (or have a drone!) to take a full view shot of the structure but I find the close-up shots breathtaking and mesmerising.
Take a look at more of Jon Foreman’s work here: https://www.facebook.com/SculptTheWorld/ I’ll try and blog one of his beach art creations soon.
The gardens at Picton Castle are home to unique Rhododendrons raised over the years by their head gardeners and include rare species such as Myrtles, Embrothium and Eucryphia.
The Walled Gardens
We didn’t visit the Wall Gardens during this visit as there was some work being done and wellies were advised after the recent storms and heavy rainfall. A visit to the walled gardens is normally a highlight and I will take lots of photos during our next visit. The Walled Garden is an enchanting riot of colour in the summer months and has an elegant fountain, pond, roses and medicinal herbs all meticulously labelled with their remedies.
We’ve taken part in many games and activities on this lawn during the summer months.
I love the children’s part of the gardens. They have their very own castle to play in and explore as well as whimsy toadstool seats and picnic table.
It’s an exciting place for the kids to play games.
With a touch of magic too!
The kids also love the maze. The Jungle Boardwalk is out of use at the moment.
We saw a few squirrels during our walk around the gardens. Of course, they’re easier to spot when moving. One stayed still and when I picked up my camera to find it again, I couldn’t spot it at all. The kids said they could still see the squirrel- can you see it?
Spurred on from the excitement of protecting their own castle in the adventure playground our wild girls decided they all needed some war paint on their cheeks! Here they are standing outside the Courtyard, in which there is a gift shop, Maria’s Courtyard Restaurant and Nursery.
The Welsh Owl Garden
We then walked on to the Welsh Owl Garden.
There are currently 26 species of owls and other exotic birds on display. Entrance to the Welsh Owl Garden is included with garden admission.
I thought this “Cheerios on a pipe-cleaner” bird feeder is a good idea for a quick craft with young children (make sure you go to refill or collect the remaining pipe cleaner after though! I double-checked on the RSPB site and it says cereal is an acceptable food for birds.
Back to the courtyard and we were just in time to return the kids completed trail sheets. In exchange, they were given a certificate and a small gift each – lucky kids!
We had a lovely time at Picton Castle and will be back soon to enjoy the Spring and Summer flowers.
Picton Castle also runs Mansion of Mystery Escape Room. Entry to the gardens and The Welsh Owl Garden are included with admission.
Have you visited Picton Castle? I’d love to hear your thoughts.