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Garden Inspiration - Visit to Bute Park, Cardiff

Last weekend I had the pleasure of making a return visit to the inspirational Bute Park, situated in the centre of the city of Cardiff. I love Bute Park - it's one of the loveliest public parks I've ever visited. It's amazing how the noisy and busy roads just outside completely disappear and are replaced with glorious bird song within what feels like a few moments of entering the park. And in places it doesn't even feel like a park, it's almost as if the countryside has crept into the city from the beyond the bounds.

Horticulturists and plantspeople will salivate over the magnificent trees - they have the most "champion trees" in any UK public park - that is the largest specimen of a particular species in the UK. But you don't have to be up on your Latin names to appreciate the trees - they are magnificent. And at this time of year it's the Magnolias that you notice.

I adore Magnolias. They remind me of college days in Kensington, and their chalice-like blooms on naked branches add elegance to both country landscape and townhouses. The flowers unfurl from fat furry ugly buds like swans. And although they are fleeting, that is one of the things I love about them. Anticipation builds with those fat buds, to just a few weeks of heady sunny days of pink and white against blue skies. And then they are gone, a glorious memory of spring.

Bute Park also has serious history and I love a place with a sense of self. I imagine all the people who have walked here before, and their lives before me. And sometimes I wonder about those who will follow after me. You will find evidence of garden history through the ages here, from the early days of the castle surrounds, through landscape gardens to pleasure gardens and finally to modern usage with sports fields and tea rooms. There is a wide path around the park used by walkers, cyclists and by runners like me, as well as grassy dog-walkers tracks. It's very much a living dynamic place.

There's also a some creative and inspiring artwork in the form of wood and tree trunk sculptures and living masses like this adorable boar. The park is also home to varied wildlife - the bird song is glorious - and the Taff running through the park also brings life with it - I stopped to watch a couple of cormorants preening themselves on rocks as water gushed past near the weir.

Finally, there had to be daffodils, we are in Wales for heaven's sake after all. There are swathes of glorious daffs in amongst the woodland areas and they catch the sunlight and amplify the golden light, a bit like buttercups reflecting on your chin. I drank it all in and carried on running home....

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