Friday, October 21, 2016

Floral splendor at Bodnant Garden in Wales

The Labernum Arch at Bodnant Garden in Wales  (wikipedia)
 WALESIn Wales it is known as “Gardd Bodnant.” For those of us who find Welsh a difficult language, primarily due to the absence of vowels, it is simply called Bodnant Garden.”

No matter how you say it, in any language, Bodnant Garden in the Conwy Valley in Wales is nothing less than breathtaking.

Begun in 1875, the 80 acre garden surrounds Bodnant House, an estate which was first laid out by the successful industrial chemist Henry David Pochin. The house itself was built in 1792, but was later remodeled by Pochin in 1874. Upon his death in 1895, Pochin’s daughter inherited the property.
Blooms everywhere you look

In 1949, the gardens, but not the house or other parts of the estate, were presented, with an endowment, to the National Trust. Since 1911 when Pochin’s daughter became the first Baroness of Aberconway, four generations of the family have actively and lovingly participated in the management of the gardens.

As with any great garden, the varieties of flowers are seasonal, but travelers wishing to maximize their visit usually choose March or April as the prime viewing time. That said, no time is a bad time to take in the myriad of ornamental pools nestled beneath their lordly mansion that overlooks Rhododendrons and Azaleas as well as noted collections of Magnolia, Camellia, Clematis and Hydrangea.

Over its more than one hundred year history, Bodnant Garden has built a worldwide reputation for its breeding program.

Is it a garden or are they gardens? It’s difficult to decide.

The Bodnant Estate began in the 1790s  (wikipedia)

The property is divided into two sections: the upper level around the estate features massive Italianate terraces and formal lawns with paths descending to the lower level known at “The Dell”, a wooded valley, stream and garden complete with an Old Mill, Mill Pond and a spillway waterfall that babbles its waters into the River Hiraethlyn.

Much of the genius of Bodnant Garden is the manner in which the landscape architecture is laid out. Nothing is left to chance. From the moment visitors arrive, there is no doubt about which direction they will look to view the flowering masterpieces blooming before them. It’s all part of the design.

It all began rather innocently in the 1790s when tree planting was begun to enhance the surroundings. Nearly a century later, the Dell garden was created along with the world famous Laburnum Tunnel.

The Lily Pond is a favorite site at Bodnant Garden  (wikipedia)
It was the second Lord Aberconway who started the collection of Rhododendrons and Magnolias. His enthusiasm for growing the proper seeds was passed on to his son and the rest is history.

By 1938 a Pin Mill had been imported from the Cotswolds to serve as a garden pavilion on the Canal Terrace.

One note of caution, do not be fooled by information stating the “Length of Visit” should be 2 hours plus. De-emphasize the number “2” and plan on the “plus” because this is a venue that captivates the imagination and should not be rushed.

Bodnant is said to be “one of the finest gardens in the country.” That is pure understatement. Situated in an idyllic setting above the River Conwy with extensive views of the Snowdonia Mountain Range, it is impossible to imagine  another garden site that can outdo Bodnant.

From mid-May to mid-June is the best time to view the Laburnum Arch with its spectacular mass of yellow blooms.

At other times of the year you will be rewarded with carpets of golden Daffodils and flowering Cherry Trees residing in the formal garden, the Lily Pond, the Japanese Garden or the Dell with its array of forested mosses and ferns that reach upward from clear gurgling streams toward a charming wooden bridge.
The streamside azalea garden is a favorite  (wikipedia)
Of the numerous specimen trees in the woodlands of the Dell you will discover California Redwoods, an Oregon Douglas Fir and a Dawn Redwood, a species from China that was previously believed to be extinct.

Situated above the Dell is the family mausoleum known as “The Poem” from which emanates a network of shrubberies and the Rosemary Garden to the front lawn across to the Round Garden.

Bodnant Garden is a year-round attraction. In winter months the gardens are open from 10 am until 4 pm. Add an extra hour from March through October when closing is at 5 pm. The only days they are closed is December 24 – 26.

Prices can vary and sometimes do change so it is best to visit the website for ticketing and other information.
The Dell includes the family mausoleum  (wikipedia)
Bodnant Garden is one of those great “discoveries” that makes travel

an incurable condition. Here you almost expect to see a naked man 

and woman romping through the forest because Eden must have 

certainly paled by comparison.