Bodnant is a National Trust garden in the foothills of Snowdonia, just a few miles south of Llandudno, on the North Wales coast. Its location lends it a very special character, with the heavily contoured landscape making for a very dynamic garden, with plenty of spectacular views both within the gardens, and beyond. Being in Snowdonia, it gets plenty of rainfall, which keeps it lush and verdant. And the soil is acidic, which means the gardens can support a range of plants that would struggle elsewhere – particularly Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias.
It had been some years since I last saw Bodnant – far too long – so it was a particular pleasure to visit the gardens again, with family, over the bank holiday weekend. Storms, heavy showers and flash flooding were forecast, but it was reasonably dry and warm when we were ready to set out, so we decided to take a chance on the weather. And as it happened, we were lucky. The sky was moody, there was a little rain now and then, but it was warm, and there was even some occasional sunshine, at least for a while; until the rain really started to come down, and we were forced to take shelter in the craft shop and the tearoom (it’s a tough life!)
There was certainly plenty to see. I like the use of fastigiate yews to add height in the borders either side of the path that leads from the entrance down to the house. They look great with the alliums (A. hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation?) at their peak.
One of the features Bodnant is famous for is its Laburnum arch, and it was close to full bloom when we saw it.
’55 metres of golden, scented, Laburnum watereri x vossii drape the arch in the upper garden’ – so says the National Trust Bodnant website.
Bodnant has a fine collection of Rhododendrons. Here are a few:
R. calophytum has an unusual and interesting growth habit.
I like the name of this one!
Embothrium coccineum. Another lime-hater, the Chilean Firebush is a member of the Proteaceae family, not especially hardy, and a great attraction for garden visitors.
Due to the weather, and the fact that one of our party was in a wheelchair (trying to avoid the steps was like navigating our way through a maze), we only got to see a selection of the gardens, but it was well worth the visit. There’s so much more to see – I recommend a visit if you can make it, and if you can; allow a full day…
words and images © Graham Wright 2018