Enjoying a lovely location in the North Wales foothills of Snowdonia, Bodnant Garden is the Victorian vision that was forged by an extraordinary man before being perfected and completed by his descendants. Today, it is loved and cherished by its visitors from all over the world.
Bodnant Garden is set on a dramatic hillside and features 80 acres (32 hectares) of land that drops from the manicured lawns and flower-filled, grand terraces, through shrub-filled glades and wildflower meadows into the spectacular dells of towering trees and water gardens. It was first established during the 1870s by the politician, businessman and scientist Henry Pochin. He chose to fill his garden with plants that had been collected from around the world by well-known global explorers like George Forrest, Harold Comber and Ernest Wilson, and this project was continued after his death by his family. Today, the National Trust cares for this property and preserves Pochin’s vision to perfection.
Bodnant Garden is, indeed, a garden of many firsts. It remains home to the grandest and earliest laburnum arch which was created in 1880. It is also home to the earliest magnolias in Britain which were brought over from China and introduced to the country in the later years of the 19th Century as well as unique rhododendron hybrids that were first bred here in the 1920s and which still thrive today.
Today, the garden hosts exotic plants including the Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis), the Andes’ fire bush and five national collections of Embothrium, Magnolia, Rhododendron forrestii, Bodnant rhododendron hybrids and Eucryphia. Not only that, but it also boasts the biggest collection of UK champion trees in Wales, and these provide spectacle for visitors all year round.
During the spring, glorious swathes of rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias and daffodils burst into bloom. During the summer, lily ponds, roses, wildflower meadows and herbaceous beds spring into life, while the autumn sees a kaleidoscope of richness in the colourful leaves and winter boasts frosted, sparkling landscapes.
Visitors can wander through the five Italianate formal terraces which were built and designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Henry McLaren in the decade between 1904 – 1914. He also created the lower and upper rose gardens which are linked by a set of pergola walkways, ornamental pools and garden rooms, and added adornments like the Croquet Terrace fountain and classical statues. His final flourish was added in 1938 when the derelict Pin Mill building was purchased at auction and moved to the garden’s Canal Terrace from its home in Gloucestershire.
More recently, the terrace and its gardens have been cared for by the resident gardening team. 2006 saw the renovation of the top rose terrace, while the lower terrace was given a revamp six years later. The old rose beds were replanted and now, the fragrance of English roses fills the air as you wander through, many of which come from David Austin’s award-winning collection. These provide continuous beauty between July and October. Newly created beds have been recently added too, including the Himalayan Poppy Bed and White Garden. The final result is a glorious attraction that has something to delight every member of the family.
At Violets and Tea, we just love this garden. Even though it technically isn’t in England!
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Images credit: Eliza Ford
Gardens in Wales