Friary Gardens, Cardiff

John’s garden in Cardiff is totally different to the other gardens I’ve visited. It’s not large, in fact probably less than a quarter of an acre, but it’s unusual.  John has modelled his garden on the box garden in the famous Friary Gardens at Cathay’s Park in Cardiff.

The geometric layout was designed by John himself, although he doesn’t do the grunt work as he has a gardener who spends a huge amount of time building and looking after the plot.

John is passionate about fresh fruit and vegetables and before he was famous he rented an allotment and grew all his own – although even in those days he employed friends to do a lot of the work.

John swears the only way to ensure you’re eating fresh produce is to grow it yourself. He doesn’t entrust that responsibility to anyone else.  So naturally much of his garden is utilised for vegetable plots, neatly contained in box hedging. It works surprisingly well, with veggies interspersed with an array of colourful flowers.

Around the edge of the entire garden, John has planted neat fruit trees, trained on wires along the walls, and numerous bushes, such as cultivated blackberries and gooseberries, red and black currants and raspberries, all well-trained, clipped and kept pristine.  You can see from his garden that John is someone who loves order and is obsessively neat. His home reflects this with his uncluttered rooms and open plan living.

John is known for his amazing paintings, but he’s also a sculptor in his spare time. A few of his works are scattered around his garden, stark white carvings that draw the eye and look wonderful as they contrast with the colour all around.

I enjoyed this garden with its neat walkways and symmetrical layout, but there’s something a little odd about a garden that is so controlled – so fighting against nature the whole time, in my opinion. But it suits John and it’s certainly an interesting place to visit.



John Karlettong’s Cardiff Garden