Good gardeners are like magpies, borrowing inspiration from every green space they visit. Whether you pick up ideas while visiting a friend, in a public park or in a specialist garden, how you put them all together is the key to your own personal gardening style. One place that offers inspiration by the wheelbarrow-full is Bodnant Garden in Conwy, North Wales.
This stunning and varied space is really a collection of gardens. Originally created by the McLaren family over 150 years ago, and with an exceptional view of Snowdonia, over the decades Bodnant Garden has unfurled in all different directions. Today it encompasses swathes of immaculate lawns, woodland that positively buzzes with wildlife, romantic terraces that sweep grandly out between beds bursting with colour, and beautiful corners in which to steal a few quiet moments. Here are a few of the other reasons it’s well worth a visit.
The new Winter Garden
Like any great garden, Bodnant is constantly evolving. One of the latest fresh features, added to an already delightful repertoire, is the Winter Garden. Created in what was originally built as a meandering Edwardian rockery, the project cost around £35,000 to realise. New garden paving has been laid and an incredible 30,000 winter plants have been introduced. When the skies are frosty blue and the pale winter sun is shining, families and friends can visit Bodnant Garden safe in the knowledge that there’ll always be a magical experience awaiting them. Plus, a brazier has been introduced to the neighbouring Dell area, selling snacks, wholesome soups and piping hot drinks to keep visitors warm as they wander.
The carefully bred rhododendrons
Last year a conservationist at Plant Heritage officially recognised Bodnant Garden’s hybrid rhododendrons as a new National Collection. Henry Duncan McLaren took delivery of the garden’s first rhododendron back in 1910, which had travelled all the way from Asia. A sophisticated breeding programme was implemented under the careful watch of head gardener Frederick Puddle, and today you can see the end results for yourself. There are over 100 varieties of this blousy, beautiful flower for you to admire. Four other National Collections are held at Bodnant Garden – magnolias, eucryphias, embothriums and Rhododendron forestii.
The fragrant rose terraces
Having recently undergone something of a revitalisation, the rose terraces at Bodnant are an absolute joy, packed full of all sorts of varieties each as enchanting as the next. From the dramatic red of ‘Darcey Bussell’ to the deep apricot hue of ‘Ann Aberconway’ and the simple, old-fashioned form of the white ‘Susan Williams-Ellis’ rose, every bloom is gorgeous. If you’re a rose enthusiast, a visit to the rose terraces is a must.
A packed calendar of events
One of the best things about Bodnant Garden is that it allows visitors to get involved, rather than simply standing on the side-lines admiring the wonderful views. If you’ve got kids, this is a great place to take them. Check out dates and times for pond-dipping, story-telling, garden craft sessions and wild art. Additionally, there are two tearooms, a National Trust shop and even a garden centre on-site, so really take your time and sample a little bit of everything.
Thanks to a history of fore-sighted gardeners and a little bit of contemporary investment, Bodnant Garden has defined itself as one of Britain’s most elegant gardens, and one you should certainly visit should the opportunity arise.
Wednesday, 12nd April 2017