Saturday 12 March 2016

Dyffryn Gardens - A National Trust Toddler Paradise

Dyffryn Gardens is in the Vale of Glamorgan just a few miles from Cardiff. They are Edwardian gardens and a Victorian mansion managed by the National Trust. The sun was shining and our first visit to messy play had been cancelled so we thought we'd use our National Trust subscription and go to Dyffryn Gardens instead.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust entrance
Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Entrance with the playground and cafe on the right

We arrived early and the car park was quite empty. There were squeals of delight coming from the children playing in the playground. We had a quick look as we walked by but the equipment was a little too big for a 17 month old so we carried on over a little stream into the shop/reception.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust stream beside the toilet block building

We are members of the National Trust so entry for us was free but looking at the prices on the door it seemed a tad expensive, £7.80 per adult and £3.90 per child, children under 5 go free.

We were greeted by a friendly face who offered two plates of food to try. They were made from recipes from their cookbook and the chocolate cake was amazing!

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Entrance and plants for sale
Lots of lovely plants for sale

The gardens are behind a Victorian Mansion house that is open to the public but today was all about exploring the gardens. The gardens are made up of themed Edwardian "rooms", a glasshouse, Arboretum and lawns. Too much to see in one day for a toddler so we just followed Bears lead and went where he took us.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Map
Map with the garden rooms on the right

Toddler stood on tree stump holding stick
A stick and a tree stump! Toddler Paradise.

We walked down the long drive and around to the back of the house where there are fantastic views across the croquet lawn.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view down drive towards mansion house in the distance
Long walk past the rockery towards the house and gardens

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Mansion house
Dyffryn House

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view across the lawns.
View across croquet lawn

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust back of the Mansion House
Terrace at back of the house

There is so much for a toddler to do. Splash in puddles; look down drains; admire a man on a bull; discover gateways and steps; wander paths; play in the fountain.

back of the house with steps and a toddler enjoying a puddle
More toddler delights. Wellies and a puddle.

toddler crouched looking into small drain in the path
Bear doesn't need mansions or lawns to make him happy -  a drain will do.

A statue of a man on a bull with a toddler looking at it and pointing
Bear loved the bronze statue and that little fence did not keep him away for long!

Places to explore.

toddler on path between a hedge and a border looking amazed
Bear mimicking the birds that were abundant in this spot.

toddler leaning into a round fountain with classical statues behind
No fishes but fascinating anyway

There is lots for us older folk too! A seat in the sun; signs to let us know what's happening; a view at every corner; a cafe for refreshments; super clean toilets; a shop to spend our money in with lots of plants on sale..

Seating with cushions under a balcony with artwork and statues
Seating with soft cushions in my favourite garden room  - the Pompeian Garden

Sunshine on a small lawn with a fountain and columns
View from the cushioned seats. The sun was so warm we could almost have been in Pompeii

white painted benches either side of steps
Lots of seating for the weary

Wire globe on pedestal with wooden trellis and arches behind
A wire globe and paths that make you want to wander

view through white painted wooden trellis of man pushing buggy and yew hedges and arches into the distance
Each garden room has stunning views towards the next

View of columns with vine stems and at the far end the white painted trellis
Looking back past the vine walk

Two Fir cones carved from a tree stump with classic columns above
A bit of fun around every corner but Bear was in his buggy as he was too tired now to walk
Dyffryn Gardens National Trust side of mansion house through yew trees
The side of the mansion house glimpsed through the yew trees

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view to the rear of the house from the vine walk
The rear of the house from the vine walk

slate signs describing the history of the North Park in English and welsh

sign describing the work to be done on the rose garden, in English and Welsh

comical sign "slippery surface" of stick man falling over dropping hat and walking stick

For the gardeners there are huge herbaceous beds and magnificent trees. The scent of the Sarcococca confusa - scented box filled the air although the flowers are so insignificant we had to search for the shrub.

picture of sarcococca a green shrub with small white flowers
The scent from this Sarcococca confusa - Sweet box; just filled the gardens

sign under wisteria tree poetically describing the shrub as an old lady dowager
A wisteria with a poem

close up of the poem wizened old dowager, Lady wisteria, leaning on her sticks,is resolute though skeletal, still her hair, in lilac, lemon and white tresses, stirs in the summer breeze......Tony Curtis
Even some poetry

A magnificent oak tree fills the frame
A magnificent oak

A scots pine clinging onto some rocks with its roots exposed
A magnificent Scots Pine clinging onto the rockery

A huge yew tree next to the main path to the mansion house
A magnificent Yew tree

We left feeling relaxed and happy. Bear thought he still had energy to run away but he was truly worn out and fell asleep in the car just as we got home.

back of toddler walking away
Bear thinks he has energy left.....

picture with reflections of a toddler asleep in a car seat
........but he doesn't. (Reflections as this picture was taken through the window once parked at home)

There is so much to this wonderful place that you could easily spend the day here. There are a lot of steps and some open, unfenced water but the gardens are magnificent and we will be back often.

Do you have a favourite National Trust place that you love to visit?

*We have held National Trust membership since May 2015. We paid for it ourselves and will be renewing again this year.



  1. What a wonderful garden. I can only think that it must be fabuous when it's in full bloom. Another one to add to my list. Especially as it has a Pompeii garden. Perfect. #CountryKids

    1. It is stunning. They have huge herbaceous borders and rose gardens.Even at this time of year there is so much to see

  2. Wow thats an amazing place to visit! So vast and theres something to see in every corner! Looks like an awesome trip =) #countrykids

    1. It is a great place to explore and lots of space for little ones to run around

  3. I do love the National Trust - so many amazing places, and always so much to do that a day is rarely enough. And we hardly ever seem to get inside the houses these days either, as my three-year-old is busy exploring all the grounds and gardens and play trails. #countrykids

    1. I agree. We are lucky we can visit the houses without the toddler and just do the grounds with him.

  4. Oh I am planning to visit Cardiff this Easter. Thanks for the inspiration. Great photos.

    Fatima |

    1. There is so much near to Cardiff to visit. We also have a outdoor museum at St Fagans that is a must see.

  5. I've never been, but live in Cardiff so it's not too far to go. It looks lovely actually. I imagine it's lovely in the summer x

    1. It is beautiful in summer with all the plants in flower but it's quieter at this time of year and still so much to see.

  6. Wow I have not been there since I was a child. My boys would love exploring the gardens. Lovely pictures, it looked like you all had fun x

    1. We loved it. I just want to go back and see all the bits we missed.

  7. This looks like such a lovely day out, we will have to visit, hopefully on a day when the weather is as nice as when you went!

    1. it is definitely worth a visit whatever the weather although sunshine is always best

  8. It's great that you got out and enjoyed the fresh air and didn't let messy play being cancelled stop you from having a good time. Dyffryn Gardens looks like a fab place to visit with kids, so much open space to explore and so many themed gardens to garner their interest. Bear looks like he's having a great time, searching through the grounds for sticks galore. Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

    1. He loved it and when we got home he did painting so it was win win :-)

  9. I love a National Trust garden to potter around! It looks like a gorgeous day for it too! My parents both have lifetime membership so I've not bothered buying for us before as we could always be their guests, but I'm visiting more and more often without them these days, so starting to consider it.

    1. It's definitely worth the money. I also think that even if I don't use it often I am still helping to preserve our heritage with my contribution

  10. I do miss NT properties living in France and always try and fit in at least one when I come over to the UK. Dunster Castle is on my list for this year.

    1. There are so many I'd love to see too we don't have that many close to us so its always a bit of a drive

  11. That oak really does look magnificent. Dyffryn gardens look like a wonderful place for a stroll, the blue skies make the greenery really pop.
    Really must visit an NT garden, each one seems so full of character

    1. This one is beautiful and when the flowers are in full bloom even better. The oak is truly magnificent. People stop just to take a moment and have a look

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  12. love all those terra pots and beautiful places where kids can just run free!

    1. It is a great place for running! And something for us to look at too

  13. One of the downsides of living outside Europe is there just aren't many places to visit with gardens and scenery like that. I do envy you.

    1. The problem with Wales is the weather! It rains so much that all our beautiful places are usually wet :-)

  14. Wow this looks amazing. I have never been to this area before, but your post makes it look somewhere I should be visiting Thanks for linking #abitofeverything xx

    1. It is a lovely place to visit and worth a journey. In the summer the flowers are amazing too

  15. What a gorgeous place! So much history. The photos are lovely and of course, a drain would be most fascinating to a little boy. Oh, to see the world through their eyes again. #abitofeverything

    1. He certainly opens my eys and makes me look again at things I would have just walked past.


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