Help us pioneer a new plant hunting age

Children collecting conkers in the garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire, in autumn.  Fancy being a real life explorer for a day at one of the UK’s finest gardens? We’re holding a special adventure day at Bodnant Garden soon giving families the chance to pioneer an exciting new family activity. On February 1, we are testing out our new Plant Hunter Tracker Packs, a discovery kit for young garden visitors, and we need families to come and have a go and then tell us what they think.

  Youngsters can hunt for plants and wildlife in the spectacular surroundings of Bodnant Garden, imagine they are exploring jungles, climbing mountains and crossing roaring rivers in their travels. Gardener Katie Croft says: “It would be a great help to us and in return for the feedback we’ll give families a fun morning in the garden (free of charge) followed by a nice spot of lunch in the Pavilion tearoom.”

  We’ll be launching the final Tracker Packs in March to co-incide with the opening of the Yew Dell, an old area of the garden with its own fascinating plant hunting history, which has been closed to the public for almost 140 years since it was first imagined. The Yew Dell was originally laid out in the 1870s and 1880s by Bodnant Garden’s creator Henry Pochin, who set out paths and re-enforced river banks. In subsequent decades it was planted up in the style of a Himalayan glade and filled with plants newly discovered by intrepid, globe-trotting explorers. The 3.5 acres is home to many rare rhododendrons, some grown from seed collected by the famous plant hunters George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward in the early 1900s.

  Rhododendrons and magnolias - Copy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Discover rhododendrons, magnolias and hydrangeas in the Yew Dell

  Over the years the area has remained untouched and during the last two years gardeners have been weeding, cutting back brambles, renovating shrubs and trees, as well as repairing paths and drains to make it ready for opening to the public on March 8. This will mark the start of an ongoing restoration project over the next few years to uncover the Yew Dell’s forgotten beauty.

  The launch of the tracker packs will celebrate the garden’s plant hunting past – and hopefully inspire a new generation of explorers! Eack pack will provide a backpack (loaned for the day) with kit for families to explore the garden and have fun together and will include a map, activity sheets, stationary, equipment including binoculars, magnifying glass and compass plus a gift for completing the activities.

  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For the trial families will be testing out the Roaring River Trail and the Deep Dark Jungle Trail and we need families with children aged 2 to 12 to take part. The day starts at 10.30am at the Pavilion tearoom with refreshments and an introduction. From 11am families can go off and enjoy their packs and meet back at 1pm for lunch followed by a chance to tell us how they enjoyed the activities. For more details or to book contact the garden office on 01492 650460.

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