This weekend my Dad and I decided to take the girls to Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes in Caldicot. I have taken my eldest daughter there on one of our ‘Mummy and Daughter’ days and she absolutely loved it, so when our original plans fell through and we were trying to think of an alternative she came up with the suggestion.
Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes were created in 1893 by Mr Henry Roger Keane Oakley, one of his main interests included cultivation of ferns, tropical flowers and plants and he created the gardens (described by the older generation as a wondrous and magical place), with glass houses, ponds, ornaments, fountains, rock gardens and many trees from around the world. The gardens are described as ‘hidden’ as for many years the gardens and grottoes were hidden under tonnes of soil and it was only 15 years ago that they were rediscovered and excavated. I for one am very glad this happened and I will show you why.
We arrived late morning and it was quite quiet so we paid and picked up our animal trail quiz to follow around, my eldest loves things like that, and as we wandered through to the first garden area all I heard from my youngest girl was- “Woah, look at that! Stepping stones! Ooh a butterfly!”, I think it was safe to say she was impressed. This first area reminds me of something you might see on a period drama on TV, with ladies walking around in their extravagant dresses and parasols. It really is beautiful, with plenty of gorgeous flowers, evergreens, stream and bridge to explore.
We then made our way underground to the first grotto, the grottoes are carved from stone and are well planted, with ponds that house real live fish, more exotic plants and ferns plus plenty of little water features and some animal clues dotted around for the children to tick off their quiz.
Once we had found our way through the various underground tunnels we discovered one of the old glass house structures, which had a little family of swallows (or swifts, we couldn’t work out which one) and we really enjoyed watching the parents feeding the babies, theyworked so hard! I did try catching a picture but they are too quick for me.
After walking through the Alligator pit, and some more tunnels found ourselves in the beautiful grounds of the house, wandering through the walkways, around fountains and watching the many dragonflies and damselflies going about their business, it was lovely to see the wildlife thriving.
The one thing that put a bit of a dampener on the day for us though was the amount of wasps around the cafe, it put us off eating there and my Dad got stung as well, lucky they didn’t get me as I am a huge wimp and would have cried. But there’s not really a lot you can do about that when you are visiting such an open area with so many flowers and sweet treats. Plus it’s that time of year again.
Overall we really enjoyed our day out at Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes, the children found it magical, I really enjoyed taking photos and watching the dragonflies dancing around. As days out go this is really a hidden gem, I would recommend the gardens to anyone, however it would be tricky for anyone with wheels to navigate the underground areas I think. The other grassy areas would be fine though and there are still plenty of green areas to explore.
For more information visit the Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes website here- Dewstow