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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2005, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Jungle unveiled at valley mansion
The 1.3m project will extend the season at Aberglasney
The derelict ruins of a courtyard at a Towy Valley mansion have been turned into an 'indoor jungle' filled with a wide range of rare plants.

Aberglasney Gardens is claiming the Ninfarium, as it has been called, is the first of its kind in the world.

The 1.3m project is the latest phase in the restoration of the mansion that dates back to the reign of Elizabeth 1.

This weekend's opening of the Ninfarium is aimed to make the gardens a year round attraction.

The idea was hatched by Aberglasney's director Graham Rankin.

He said: "I was lying in bed four years ago thinking what can we do with this area - one of the choices was to flatten the whole lot - but doing it this way we keep the integrity of the mansion and created a wonderful garden.

The jungle has been grown under glass in the mansion ruins

"The range of plants we can grow here and the environment is unique - I think the only one of its kind in the world.

"It will extend the season for us because a lot of the flowers have been chosen specifically to be of interest during the winter months."

The name was chosen as a homage to Ninfa, a village south of Rome that was left in ruins when deserted in the 14th century, but more recently has been planted as a wild garden.

The restoration of Aberglasney has been on-going for 10 years since it was first bought by the restoration trust.

American based benefactor Frank Cabot was given his first tour around the Ninfarium on Friday.

Frank Cabot
Benefactor Frank Cabot said it was a dream come true

"It's a wonderful dream realised because when we first took over the house, there were any number of schemes to make it into flats or apartments," he said.

"When the restoration began, funds were limited and only the main part of the house could be stabilised.

"This inner courtyard was left in a very derelict state but we always had this dream of using it for some worthwhile purpose.

"It's just the beginning. We have to look about five to 10 years down the road when it turns into a proper jungle.

"It really should have monkeys and colourful birds flying around, the noises and everything else too."

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