Posted by Lisa Starr on 30th Oct 2019 -- Read Time: 4 minutes
The beauty of Bodnant Garden
In July, Laura and I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Bodnant Garden in North Wales. Maintained by the National Trust, this world-class garden is found near the River Conwy, not far from Snowdonia. A lot of our groups visit Bodnant when they are in North Wales, but I had never been myself – and I have to say it really exceeded my expectations, I was delighted with how beautiful it was.
Bodnant Garden is a huge landscape with many different kinds of garden in one space, offering a fantastic variety to suit different tastes. Bodnant is a collection of sweeping lawns, Italianate terraces, wildflower meadows, leafy glades and woodland dells. Adding to these spectacular gardens is the stunning backdrop: there are views of Snowdonia’s mountains at every turn. The staff there were really friendly, giving us a map of the garden and letting us know the main highlights, as unfortunately we only had a short amount of time to spend here. There were also two tea rooms offering a variety of drinks, snacks and cakes, ideal for either a spot of lunch or an afternoon cup of tea. The gardens were laced with pretty, winding paths to stroll along and explore, but there were also plenty of places to sit down and watch the world go by amongst these beautiful surroundings. It has a garden centre with a variety of plants to buy, which I loved to see as I am doing more in my own garden at home now. There was also a lovely gift shop, filled with mementos and trinkets for your home and garden.
A little bit of history
So, here are the facts… this haven of horticulture was the vision of Victorian businessman Henry Pochin. When he first acquired Bodnant Hall it had a walled garden, landscaping and woods surrounding it. He developed these grounds extensively, adding shrub gardens, winding paths, and the famous Laburnum Arch (which blossoms in May and June) as well as sculpting the valley sides. Victorian gardens are characterised by bright flowers in the beds, plants from around the world, and arboretums, and Bodnant certainly has wonderful examples of all of these. Pochin’s daughter later expanded the gardens with an Edwardian flair, and in turn her son contributed a more Arts and Crafts aesthetic. He also continued to collate plants from explorers and exotic plant hunters, introducing species from all corners of the globe – Bodnant was the first garden in Britain to have magnolias. Bodnant is by no means a historic relic, though – it is still being developed in the 21st century and feels very vibrant and dynamic.
The garden in July
July was a brilliant month in which to visit Bodnant, as the garden was showing off all the colour and lushness of high summer. Known for having one of the best displays of roses in Wales, Bodnant has over 1,500 roses. The scent and colour as we wandered through the formal rose garden was breathtaking. The rest of the garden was in full bloom too, with swathes of vegetation and floral displays in every shade of every colour imaginable. There were also gorgeous wildflower meadows buzzing with life, and flourishing water liles.
A landscape of giants
One thing that really struck me about the garden was the number of trees. Bodnant is known for its impressive selection, and I’ve learnt that it is home to Wales’ largest collection of UK Champion Trees. Some of them are over 200 years old, planted in the 1700s during the first phase of landscaping and still thriving to this day; these include beech, oak, sycamore and chestnut. In the Victorian era, Pochin introduced Asian and American tree species to the riverside dells, and in the 1900s Chinese and Japanese trees that are rare in Britain were added. I would love to go back when I have more time and really explore further!
Bodnant was a highlight of my trip to North Wales and definitely somewhere I will return to. With 80 acres of grounds, we barely touched the surface on our short visit, but nevertheless it was really worthwhile. The joy of Bodnant is that you could do as little or as much as you want, and still go home happy – the beauty and variation of the gardens surrounding you are quite simply enchanting.