Gwent is home to some beautiful historic gardens and back in 2015 we interviewed Tony Russell about a book he had just published celebrating some of the area’s finest.

AS THE days get longer and brighter, never has there been a better opportunity to take in some of Gwent’s gardening delights this year.

With thousands of bulbs bursting into bloom, there is an ever-changing show of colours and scents for the whole family to enjoy ahead of gardening season between April and September.

Gwent, in particular, is blessed with a selection of stunning gardens and they are subject of a book by Tony Russell, who is a garden consultant for the National Trust.

The Finest Gardens in Wales, published by Amberley Publishing, has been two years in the making. The guide contains photographs of each garden with details of its history, owners, and a description of the landscape and plants.

South Wales Argus: AUTHOR: Tony Russell

Tony Russell

As well as featuring some of the country's most well-known gardens, including Portmeirion, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales and Powis Castle, Gwent is well represented with six gardens featuring.

Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes, near Caldicot; Penpergwm Lodge, near Abergavenny; Veddw House, near Devauden; Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Gardens at St Arvans; High Glanau Manor at Lydart; and Tredegar House in Newport all make the cut.

In his book Mr Russell, who lives and works in Snowdonia National Park, described Dewstow Garden and Grottoes as a "fascinating subterranean world" and High Glanau Manor as a "horticultural and architectural delight", setting the tone for the unique attraction of each of the six Gwent gardens that feature.

Mr Russell said: “From grand landscapes surrounding stately homes to mountain gardens alongside tumbling streams, the horticultural diversity to be found within Wales is really quite astonishing.

“Journeying around, there were a number of surprises. Some gardens were very good; some were resting on their laurels and were not where they were a few years ago.

South Wales Argus: GROTTO: Dewstow Gardens and Grotto, near Caldicot

Dewstow Gardens and Grotto, near Caldicot

“It was not a case of just finding 50 gardens; it was about finding well-maintained, botanically worthy sites that you’re actually able to get in your car and visit.

“The great thing is that there’s such diversity in Gwent for all of that and they're all so accessible.”

He added: “At Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes, there is so much below the ground and the grottos are superb. At Penpergwm Lodge, you feel like you’ve gone back 100 years to an Edwardian garden.

“At Veddw House, there are surprises around every corner and you don’t see everything at first glance, whereas with Wyndcliffe Court there’s great sculpture work and a blend of the formal with woodland.

“There are so many eclectic plants at High Glanau Manor and 80 per cent of those plants would not have been there 200 years ago, while Tredegar House is so important historically with really exotic borders. You can even find bananas growing there and it’s so atmospheric.”

South Wales Argus: STUNNING: Tredegar House

Tredegar House

One of Gwent’s many hidden delights is Penpergwm Lodge in Abergavenny, which opens from April until September every year.

Featuring an avenue of malus transitoria flowers and a golden jubilee octagonal brick folly tower, this is a breathtaking garden that offers picturesque views of the hills of the Brecon Beacons National Park

The garden’s owner, Catriona Boyle, 69, has been living at the lodge for nearly 40 years and said a lot has changed in that time.

She said: “Back then, it was a bit different in planning everything but we’re used to it now and a team of three of us work on the garden throughout the year. It’s not as difficult as it was but it’s still jolly hard work.

“Our beautiful magnolias are about to come into bloom and, although it isn’t an especially rare plant, you don’t often find an avenue of malus transitoria in one place.

South Wales Argus: AERIAL: Penpergwm Lodge

Penpergwm Lodge

“We also have a canal running through the garden and there’s such a mixture of different things for people to come see.”

Elsewhere, Veddw House is set in the wonderful countryside of the Welsh border above Tintern. There are two acres of ornamental garden and two acres of woodland, with a dramatic reflecting pool and eye-catching clip hedging.

Much of the garden was made on ancient grassland, which has been conserved in many parts of the garden, especially the meadow.

One of the unique attractions of the garden is that it peaks in late summer and therefore opens until the end of September.

Anne Wareham, gardening writer with the Telegraph who has helped to maintain the garden with photographer Charles Hawes in the last 25 years, said: “This is a garden that was made by two people with very little money and has gone on to have a national reputation.

South Wales Argus: BREATHTAKING: Veddw House

Veddw House

“I don’t particularly enjoy gardening, but I really enjoy the results.

"Visitors are able to come in to a dramatic panoramic view and really explore the garden. It has a real impact.

“We don’t do tea and you don’t leave through the shop; it’s all about the garden.”

One of Gwent's most historic gardens is at High Glanau Manor in Monmouthshire. Opened in 1927, the garden was designed by Henry Avray Tipping, the former editor of Country Life.

It was bought by Hilary and Helena Gerrish in 2002 and following more than a decade of repairs and painstaking plantations, the garden featured on Gardeners World on BBC Two last June.

South Wales Argus: BORDERS: The recreated herbaceous borders at High Glanau

The recreated herbaceous borders at High Glanau

Mrs Gerrish said: "This is a garden with real history and was the last house in Wales designed by Mr Tipping.

"When we took over, the signature herbaceous planting had gone but the backbone was still there.

"We've used the articles Tipping wrote to guide us and we've softened the architectural lines of the building.

"The original grapevine of Tipping is even still there."

Another of Tipping’s offerings is that of Wyndcliffe Court Gardens, which is home to Gwent’s largest collection of sculptures and is opening for its third year this season.

South Wales Argus: VIEW: Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Gardens

Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Gardens

Grade II listed and designed in the arts and crafts style, the gardens are situated along the Wye Valley between Chepstow and Tintern.

Miranda Banfield, who does the marketing for Wyndcliffe Court Gardens, said: “We grow our own carrots, potatoes, salads, and beans and they are all used for our in-house cafe.

"We've had a part-time gardener on site for the past 30 years to help maintain it and visitors' entry fees go towards paying a second gardener.

“There’s a great variety here, whether it’s our oak ballroom for afternoon tea or our vast pond network. You’re able to see over the Severn Estuary and it’s just such a peaceful place to visit.”