The glory of Bodnant's beautiful gardens

PUBLISHED: 02:28 11 April 2012 | UPDATED: 09:22 11 February 2013

The glory of Bodnant's beautiful gardens

The glory of Bodnant's beautiful gardens

Spring has sprung at Bodnant Garden, a world-famous beauty spot that attracts thousands of visitors to North Wales every year WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

If Henry Davis Pochin could see the glorious landscapes at Bodnant Garden, his smile would be as wide as the Conwy Valley it is located in. The industrial chemist, former MP and director of the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, bought the Colwyn Valley estate in 1874 when it was just land and a collection of farms.

He carved out the blueprint of the stunning gardens that exist today creating the Dell and planting many of the fine American and Oriental conifers. Since then, the succeeding generations of his family have made their own contributions to the vast gardens there now. Although the family still own Bodnant Hall, currently resided in by QC Michael McLaren, they donated the garden to the National Trust in 1949. Today, Bodnant Garden is a world famous attraction enjoyed by visitors from across the globe.

Ann Smith, visitor services manager who has worked at Bodnant over 20 years, said: You cannot help but fall in love with Bodnant. It is a fantastic garden with the most amazing setting in the Conwy Valley and you have fabulous views of the Snowdonia range. Its such a diverse place to explore.

The work that has been done by every generation since Henry Davis Pochin is amazing. I am proud to be involved with Bodnant.

The garden is divided into an upper level of formal areas of Italianate terraces, a Round Garden and herbaceous borders. A lower, relaxed space has features like Pochins Dell, a wild garden and wooded areas. Visit at this time of year and you will be greeted with carpets of bright yellow daffodils, hundreds of camelias in flower and a dazzling rhododendron display.

A little further into the year and you can enjoy Japanese and deciduous azaleas in full bloom and early June is a good time to walk through a 180 feet long laburnum arch one of the gardens main attractions - that is covered in the yellow flowers. Summer reveals a riot of colour in the terraced gardens and many of the national collection of eucryphias are in flower. In autumn the trees turn all shades of reds, greens, purples and golds and many are laden with berries.

Ann said: The garden is beautiful at any time of year. That is what is so fantastic about Bodnant, it is constantly changing and there is always something new to see.

It might be different flowers in bloom or different parts of the surrounding landscape can be viewed as different areas grow and then die back. I love the entire garden, it is very special but the Dell is a magical place.

We have 200-year-old trees and on a sunny day the light streams through them and it is just beautiful.

It is the task of head gardener, Troy Smith, and his team of 21 gardeners and 35 volunteers to look after the vast 80 acre site. Since 2006, redevelopment work has been going on to update the garden. The terraces have been extended and flowers, plants and trees have been planted in areas that previously didnt have any.

A new reception and visitor information area, caf and a tunnel giving better access to the garden has been built. Work is now underway to develop to new winter garden which will open for the first time this December.

There is also a bumper line-up of events planned for the season. Easter trails and a Mad Hatters Tea Party will be held on April 8th and 9th. Throughout the season there will be regular gardener-led tours around the garden, Shakespeare performances and a special dawn chorus event on May 6th where visitors can experience the gardens at 5.15am.

Ann said: The dawn chorus has been really popular. Its not surprising though because seeing the sun rise in the garden and hearing the birds twittering is spectacular.

We had 170,000 visitors here last year. Bodnant is a world famous gardens and a major destination for people coming to North Wales. We have people travelling from around the world to come and see us.
Bodnant is a great place to wander around, enjoy and appreciate its beauty. There is nowhere better.

The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Cheshire Life

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