The idea for a garden on what was then just a piece of rough ground next to the Beach Shelter came originally from the first Lady Chairman of the Council (1924-25) Mrs Constance Maillard.

The garden was based on plans and planting proposals drawn up by Miss Ursula Thompson who was the first woman to graduate as a gardener from Kew Gardens. Miss Thompson had worked in Italy restoring classical gardens and her work there formed the inspiration for her proposals for the new sea front garden at Penarth. Her ideas found immediate favour with Mrs Maillard who was then instrumental in getting the garden created.

The gardens were opened in March 1926 but were first named the Beach Rock Gardens the New Rock Garden or the Promenade Garden the name Italian Gardens being adopted later because of its formal Italianate layout. Palm trees and a large fig tree on the south wall give the gardens a tropical feel and the beds are filled with magnificent floral displays through the summer months. The entrance steps are flanked by two splendid yew trees and a large plaque situated centrally at the top of the steps commemorates the visit of Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales to Penarth in October 1991.

New wave-design railings were installed in 1994 although the new design was greeted with less than critical acclaim and in 1995 a ramp providing access for disabled visitors was installed.

A more recent development took place in the summer of 2010 when the use of annual bedding plants was replaced with a new planting scheme based on herbaceous plants  more in keeping with the original ‘Italianate’ design for the gardens.

Over the years the Italian Gardens have been a much loved feature of the sea front and are still amongst the most pleasant of places to just sit and look out over the constantly changing view across the Bristol Channel.

A number of very interesting historical images of the Italian Gardens are available on the pages of the website below.

A link to the latest Google Streetview is provided below but please be aware that this may be somewhat out of date.
Google Streetview