Portmeirion isn't everyone's cup of tea, although I've never understood why. People often stare at me in disbelief when I say it's one of my favourite places on the planet. It's got everything, especially if you're looking to get the design juices flowing. Words like naff, twee, kitsch and even hideous are bandied around, when all I see is an absolutely gorgeous place chock full of inspiring decorative design - the vision of the celebrated architect/designer Clough Williams-Ellis, who was unafraid to transform his dreams into reality.
|Susan Williams_Ellis' cut-out black sheep,|
designed for The Welsh Wool Shop
The Italianate village is sometimes said to sit uneasy under grey Welsh skies, but I've been many times in all weathers and it never fails to excite, inspire and educate me. As far as I'm concerned it's refreshing to witness unabashed eccentricity - a veritable visual feast!
|Clough with Frank Lloyd Wright Portmeirion 1956|
I refuse to believe that anyone who's ever walked in Y Gwyllt (the wilderness) could truly say it's not a heavenly place. Looking across the magnificent estuary, with beautiful beaches, caves and wildlife, planted in the true Williams-Ellis eclectic style of wild exotic is one thing. But then there are the towering canopies of rhodos, camellias, magnolias and sitka spruce, underplanted with Portuguese laurels, hydrangeas, tree ferns, skimmias, bamboos and lovely naturalised wild flowers and bulbs, all punctuated by exuberant gazebos and hidey-holes and surprises. I noticed yesterday with great approval that all the bluebells were the native variety and not the invasive Spanish ones.
|Reflections in the lake with pagoda and bridge|
Maybe Portmeirion sometimes gets a bad press because of its association with the 1960s series The Prisoner, and it's true to say there is a shop dedicated to its merchandising. Even this I can't understand as from what I can remember from way back, it was quite a quirky and interesting show. There are probably many more visitors on the prisoner trail than there for the wildlife or planting, but the place has to be sustained somehow and if that's what it takes... It certainly does nothing to inhibit its very special locus genii (spirit of the place) and it's great to see the place flourish, so obviously still loved and well looked after.
|Golden buddha from the film |
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
|View of the estuary inland|
|View of estuary towards Bardsey Island - high tide|
|Stairway to heaven!|
|Mermaid with Clough's signature turquoise on ironwork|
|Soldier with lizard|
|View of estuary framed through arch|
|Friendly lion at the entrance|
|Tulips by river|
|Even the hosepipe is part of the design|
|Amazing old Sitka spruce|
|Sitka Spruce shadows|
|Pagoda on lake|
|Waterlilies on the lake|
|Wonderful spring green|
|Tree fern unfolding|
|The dog cemetry|
|Rhodo petal strewn path|
|The dancing tree, with apologies for not dancing, I needed a rest!|
|Tide going out|
|Lichen on rocks|
|Ebbing tide revealing the fabulous beach|