Powis Castle as their favourite garden. I have at times. I went several times many years ago (like - a long time ago!) but then although it isn't that far I haven't been for ages. Having hugely enjoyed it, I know I shall be going back more. It really is very special. It's that location for one thing, that huge drop down, the view, the horticultural extravagance on one level after another. It's also one of those gardens that makes you feel like you are in a separate, self-contained world where everything is a little more perfect than reality.
retiring in 1996 And he got a obit in the Times too. He was one of the National Trust's great head gardeners, always fun to talk to, as he was so full of ideas and knowledge. He obviously had a rather combative relationship with Graham Stuart Thomas, the Trust's Gardens Advisor for many crucial years (1955-75) and by all accounts, rather full of himself. I remember Jimmy telling me some stories of Thomas turning up and telling him what he could do and not do. Jimmy had no time for his advice, which he dismissed as irrelevant, pointing out the climatic differences between the south-east of England (Thomas's natural habitat) and the Welsh borders.
The pots here are fantastic, some of the best filled containers I've seen, exuberant, exotic and using a huge range of plant material.
One of the things which gives Powis its really special atmosphere is the sense of antiquity which oozes out of the stone walls, the statues and these extraordinary overgrown yew topiaries. We were slightly of the attitude that they looked a bit too much like obese flesh, and perhaps in need of a little restorative pruning.
This is one of those places that combines innovation (primarily the half-hardies) with traditional skills. Unlike in Graham Stuart Thomas's day, the garden staff here have plenty of autonomy. It always used to be said that the NT used to make every garden look the same. I was never sure about this, but it certainly is not true now, as there is apparently very little central direction. For new ideas it can only be good, and it was new ideas that put Powis Castle on the map and made it such a favourite.