If you love daffodils Wales is a wonderful place to see them. The flower is a national emblem of Wales, and in springtime, usually between late February and early April, you can find daffodils blooming all over the country, in parks, gardens, along roadsides, on river banks – it’s pretty hard to miss them.
For us, spring is the best time of year to visit Wales. The blooming of daffodils everywhere is a sign of warmer, better weather ahead, a sign of renewal and rebirth as leaf buds reappear on trees and everything suddenly seems to glow with life.
The daffodil came to be a national symbol of Wales partly through linguistic accident. The leek had for centuries been the Welsh national symbol. The Welsh for leek is cennin, and the Welsh for daffodil is very similar – cennin Pedr. The idea of the daffodil as a national emblem began to take hold in the 19th century, and was championed by, among others, the only Welshman to become British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.
It’s not hard to see why the daffodil became popular, although many still prefer the leek. The daffodil looks better, and has a more appealing, fragrant smell: if you walk around wearing a vegetable for a few hours, the aroma tends to linger.
Here’s a brisk nationwide tour of some of the best places to see daffodils Wales has, starting north and heading west and south.
The first flicker of spring in Portmeirion, the Italianate fantasy village close to the Snowdonia National Park, is when the daffodils bloom near the Gate House.
Daffodils line the bank of the river Glaslyn as it passes through the gorgeous village of Beddgelert.
Rug Chapel, near Corwen
The daffodils managed to last into April when we visited the stunning Rug Chapel, just outside the town of Corwen in the Dee Valley.
The first time we took our baby son to North Wales, we stayed at the Bryn Howel Hotel a short drive from Llangollen. This is a scene from the hotel grounds.
Powis Castle and Gardens
Powis Castle has some of the most outstanding formal gardens in Wales, and they look especially wonderful in spring when the daffodils make their appearance.
This remote churchyard in Ceredigion, next door to the ruin of a medieval abbey, is a real daffodil haven. In this image, some have been planted next to the memorial to the 14th century poet Dafydd ap Gwilym.
St Davids Cathedral
Springtime is very popular with photographers who head to the far west of Wales to St David’s Cathedral, built on a site where the nation’s patron saint founded a church. It’s the Welsh equivalent of Rome or Canterbury, the country’s spiritual centre albeit on its very edge. Daffodils bloom all over the cathedral precincts, in the churchyard, in fields and gardens, and make a wonderful sight.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
The Great Glasshouse, designed by Lord Norman Foster, is one of the main attractions of the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire, and it looks at its best in spring surrounded by daffodils.
Cyfarthfa Park, Merthyr Tydfil
The gardens at Cyfarthfa look at their best in summer, but the park below the castle is beautiful in spring when the daffodils and celandines flower for a few weeks.
Caerphilly Castle, the largest in Wales, looks amazing in springtime when daffodils carpet the grass verge outside the main gatehouse, and parts of the park behind.
St Fagans National History Museum
The brilliant National History Museum occupies the grounds of St Fagans Castle, and surrounding woodland, where this beautiful dovecote sits, surrounded by spring flowers.
There are also carpets of daffodils in the woods.
Cardiff Castle has always been a prime daffodil site. This shot is from outside, in Bute Park, but the grounds inside are also a very happy hunting ground for daffodil lovers, especially on the verges below the perimeter walls.
St John’s Church, Cardiff
The city centre parish church of St John’s is just across the road from Cardiff Castle, and well worth a visit. The graceful 15th century Perpendicular tower, with its golden pinnacles, is one of the city’s finest landmarks. In springtime, clusters of daffodils grow in the churchyard, making it look even better.