A Reflection on Linda Vista Gardens


Abergavenny is a bustling town with mountain air giving it a liveliness and energy. Yet near the centre is a tranquil place where the visitor can rest, picnic and walk: The Linda Vista Gardens, literally “beautiful view”, where you can enjoy the sight of the Blorenge Mountain.

Its origins were as a private garden to the Linda Vista Villa built in 1875. It changed hands several times before being acquired by Abergavenny Council in 1957 to be transformed into a public park with added land to the west and south, the Castle Meadows. It has an intricate layout in the formal part and the quality of the planting is exceptional, with a variety of trees and shrubs and some unusual specimens including rare orchids. Not only is it a delightful spot in itself but it hosts open air music concerts during the Summer Festival.

Linda Vista Article Image

Landscape gardening went through several phases of fashion in past centuries and, although this is different from the work of Capability Brown, I was reminded of his words when he saw his role as akin to that of a poet or composer: “Here I put a comma, there, when it’s necessary to cut the view, I put a parenthesis, there I end it with a period and start another theme.” The emphasis is on the experience of the visitor and making sure it is harmonious and modulated.

As you enter you will notice a wooden sculpture ahead which depicts aspects of the history of the town. The middle section was of particular interest to me since it shows the treacherous woman supporter allowing Owain Glyndwr into the town which he then virtually destroyed. This might have been one of Capability Brown’s commas and, for me, the full stop was when I paused to sit on some wooden pallets near the exit and suddenly realised they were a bug hotel in preparation.

I was also aware, as I took the photographs, of what I believe was a habit in the Victorian period of looking at a view with the aid of a wooden rectangle to focus on one section of a panorama. Pointing my iPad, I felt I was doing something similar and was preserving all this for later as Wordsworth mentally recorded his daffodils. A sonnet formed in my mind, partly because of the assonance in the name Linda Vista and partly because of the philosophical conundrum about whether or not things continue to exist when not perceived directly. And – carpe diem when you are in a place like this.


This breeze, sent down from mountains, calls the name,
breathes “Gerddi Linda Vista” to the flowers.
They whisper back, the message is a frame:
“You count millennia; we live in hours.”
One plant claims a brief season within Spring;
another takes the Autumn by surprise.
Here are no masters and no underlings:
each has its day to seize our lazing eyes.
Captured in sunlight by my mental click,
they know I am a camera – so they sway,
toss petal-locks, give their green fronds a flick,
as if I’ve caught them in their négligées.
 Yet, when I go, will they dance on and make
more moving selfies for the garden’s sake?

There a section of garden poetry on my website: Formal Poetry and other idiosyncrasies

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About Author

Poet with six published collections, the most recent being "The Cartographer Sleeps" (Shoestring Press) launched at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.


  1. Oliver Barton on

    A lovely sonnet – and refreshing to see selfies making their way into such a classical verse form!

    I must in all honesty though correct the myth that there are rare orchids in the Gardens. Don’t know where it came from, but I have seen the assertion pop up before. There are, however, certainly plenty of interesting trees (including a Foxglove tree, an Indian Bean Tree, a Judas Tree, a Gingko, an enormous and vererable old London Plane, and in the new Autumn Colour Tree Collection, two Liquidambers, a Katsura, Snake-Bark Maples, a Great White Cherry, and other delights), and I am told that there have been the first recorded sightings of a solitary miner bee in Wales there, that digs nests looking like little worm-holes in the soil, stocks them up with pollen from ivy, lays eggs, and then seals them up and leaves the young to fend for themselves. They were evident in one of the beds of ornamental grasses last year.

  2. La Porte de Marie on

    … so they sway,
    toss petal-locks, give their green fronds a flick,
    as if I’ve caught them in their négligées. …

    Wonderful image! And a very beautiful poem – well done

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