The Rookery Walled Garden – garden meets art


The Rookery Walled Garden was a space where cultivated nature met art. The garden is situated at the edge of Solva / Pembrokeshire / UK as an old traditional walled garden that belongs to the manor house of Llanunwas right at the cliffs of St. Nuns Bay.
The inspiration for many gardens comes from nature; the japanese style garden uses sculptural trees to create a garden that represent untouched nature and brings it into urban life. The trees are pruned in a way to look like the trees you see for example on top of mountains shaped by wind and the environment they are growing in. In miniature you find it in the art of bonsai. We can see this at Pembrokeshire coast where the gorse bushes grow right on top of the cliff hanging above the sea.You find another perfect place to see how trees survive under severe circumstance at the river bank of the Eastern Cleddau: the tide has washed away the soil and the trees have bare roots and some even fallen down but all they still grow in all kind of shapes – the pure strength of an old oak to resist the natural forces of the river coming in and out eating on their roots.

With this in mind small landscapes started to develop in the garden each with their own character. Apart from the usual victorian appearance of a walled garden mAgdA and Berth developed ways to connect gardening with sculpturing -“artistic” gardening – so the garden does not become a plain canvas on which you paint with colourful plants but where the garden becomes a living sculpture itself.

Sculpture parks, like Goodwood in West Sussex and the Kröller Müller Museum in Holland, use forest as a backbone for the display of their sculptures.  This concept is taken one step further so the garden becomes sculptural to complement the sculptures which are displayed in the garden with performing trees and the landscape to match the artefacts.

Not only sculptures are displayed in this way but also poetry – poetry that has a strong connection with nature, for example in Haiku. These poems were displayed right in the nature they reflect. The Rookery Walled Garden had a podium where people could read their poems to the visitors of the garden. It was a lovely spot to paint, write poems, or make any other art. Emotional landscapes are formed by nature herself all around us but often we failed to see it. Only when we can unwind from the rush of modern life we have the possibility to reflect on what nature offers us.

A walled garden provided us the perfect opportunity to leave the hassles behind us when we entered the garden through the special gate to engage protected in a different world. The walls sheltered us but nature can fly in from above and the sun stroke the space with her warming beams. A brilliant place to start cultivated nature, working with nature to create a variety of emotional landscapes in which we can contemplate and even meditate. A place where our inner creativity has a change to come out to evolve in a connection with nature. When mAgdA came back to the walled garden in Solva in 2009 she rediscovered the plants she planted between 1998 and 2002. Berth and mAgdA made the design of the garden around these reappearing plants. A design where stinging nettles are just as much appreciated as the Eucalyptus – the mint has its place next to the old apple tree – to show that “non-native” trees and plants can have a place and permission to grow in this landscape; to give a taste of the wild fruits and the domesticated fruits.
The walled garden is now closed to the public due to private use of the space.