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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
Beatrix Potter garden 'recreated'
The Flopsy Bunnies - Copyright©Frederick Warne & Co., 1909, 2002
Mr McGregor's potting shed is still in place at Gwaenynog Hall
A garden which inspired children's author Beatrix Potter in one of her classic books is being returned to its Victorian look.

Janie Smith receives up to 2,000 visitors a year at Gwaenynog Hall in Denbigh, the setting for The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies.

The creator of Peter Rabbit was Mrs Smith's great-great-aunt and regularly visited during the 1890s.

Whilst there she was inspired to write and illustrate the children's classic.

"Beatrix Potter's mother and my great-grandmother were sisters and she came here to stay with her Uncle Fred. This is going back to the 1890s and she came some 13 times," said the mother of three.

"While she was here she got the inspiration to write the Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and illustrate the book."

The garden at Gwaenynog Hall has been open to the public for around 15 years but recently the Smith family and in particular daughter Frances have tried to return the garden to what it probably looked like during the author's visits.

"Bit by bit it's all coming back to what it was like in her time," said Mrs Smith.

Janie Smith outside the potting shed
They're very naughty because they nip at the delphiniums.... occasionally it's quite nice to think 'Aah there's a Flopsy Bunny'
Janie Smith on the garden's rabbits

"It's full of herbaceous plants, we have apple trees, pear trees, we have apricots, peaches and damsons and lovely green gardens to walk on.

"In June it is in tremendous flower," she added.

Beatrix Potter, who lived in the Lake District, is reported to have had an isolated childhood but during her 20s she stayed in Denbigh and thought of the idea of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and the illustrations to go with it.

Gwaenynog Hall is featured in a number of the author's drawings of gardener Mr McGregor and the bunnies.

The potting shed featured in the book is still there today and is visited by hundreds of people who travel from as far afield as Japan, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

Mrs Smith, who has five grandchildren, said Beatrix Potter's books are still loved by children of all ages, including her own.

"They were brought up on Beatrix Potter," she said.

The author died in 1943 but her famous rabbits can still be found in the grounds of Gwaenynog Hall.

"They're very naughty because they nip at the delphiniums.... occasionally it's quite nice to think 'Aah there's a Flopsy Bunny'", said Mrs Smith.

The garden is open between June and August every year by appointment.

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31 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Revamp for Peter Rabbit complex
15 Nov 04 |  Cumbria
Potter paintings fetch £40,000
01 Apr 03 |  England


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