Colby Woodland Garden
Colby Woodland Garden
This delightful garden surrounds a 19th century country house. A formal walled garden leads to woodland walks through massed rhododendrons and a variety of unexpected tree species. Best for rhododendrons and azaleas, and at its most colourful in April and May.
A historic garden built upon a coalfield. The Colby estate takes its name from John Colby (1751-1823), who mined the area for coal. You can still see evidence of mining about the estate, including the entrances to steeply sloped audits, where children were used to haul wagons laden with coal out of the narrow openings.

Colby Lodge was built from 1802, and though there may have been a garden around the house in the early 19th century, the gardens we see today really began afte the property was purchased in 1873 by Samuel Kay, a wealthy pharmacist from Stockport. Kay only used the house as a holiday home, but he began to lay out and develop some of the main garden features. Later Kay owners added water features, extended the woodland area, and built the summer house in West Wood.

One of the more unusual features at Colby is a summerhouse designed by Lincoln Taber in 1976. The owner of Colby at that time was Peter Chance, head of the prestigious auction house, Christies of London. Chance asked Taber to decorate the interiors of his octagonal summerhouse with a series of trompe l'oiel murals of outdoor scenes. One panel depicts a view of a path leading deeper into the garden, which could only be seen when the doors had to be closed due to inclement weather. The ceiling of the summerhouse is painted with signs of the Zodiac, each representing a person involved in creating the summerhouse.

The Chance owners left the estate to the National Trust, along with a bequest to pay for a sumptuous planting of rhododendrons. Other features include a walled garden created from the original kitchen garden for Colby Lodge. This formal area hosts some unusual trees, herbaceous borders, and attractive shrubs.

A network of trails lead through woodlands around the Lodge. One trail leads up to the Summer House, where you can get wonderful views over Carmarthen Bay on a clear day. The acidic soil at Colby means that magnolias, Japanese maples, and camelias flourish in the woodland areas.