Fanfare for the Far End

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The Far End is now officially yours folks – open to the public after 140 years. After all the hard work, worry and a decidedly dodgy weather forecast we had a grand opening day. Hearts sank in the morning when we woke up to gale force winds and driving rain…but somehow, miraculously, as 10am drew nearer the wind abated, the rain dried up, the sun broke through the clouds and delivered a perfect blue sky day (well, at least until late afternoon, for the hours that mattered!)

Perhaps the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin was smiling down on us, but it was a fitting tribute to the hours, months, years of work by gardeners and volunteers which has gone in to renovating this area ready for this day.

Visitors assembled by the new bridge at 12 noon where Michael McLaren from the donor family spoke movingly about the history of the area, and how delighted his father and grandfather would be at people now being able to enjoy it. Our guest, TV gardener Christine Walkden, then gave her own passionate few words about the Bodnant Garden she knows and loves, and cut the ribbon with garden shears – succeeding after three attempts (yes, they were sharp…and we rehearsed…but hey, best laid plans.)

There was even cake. Alex, one of the Dell team of gardeners who has worked so hard on The Far End, and who came in on her birthday for the opening, was surprised by a truly giant sponge, which was shared out among the visitors. That left visitors to enjoy the rest of the afternoon exploring this wonderful new area – here’s a taste:

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Before opening, our volunteers ready for duty

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Ducks enjoying the lake to themselves for the last time!

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The first people to arrive at The Far End were Sandra and Margaret Qualters. They had come from Ashton-under-Lyne for the opening and said they had been looking forward to it for months. Behind them came a steady stream of visitors.

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Michael McLaren and Christine Walkden performing the opening

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Third time lucky for the ribbon, and Alex with her birthday cake

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Christine Walkden with Michael and Caroline McLaren

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Coracle making, and sailing (head gardener John demonstrating!)

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Lunch around the brazier, Christine with volunteers Sally and Phyllis

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Music for all tastes! A harpist and Morris Dancers 

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New head gardener John and his family enjoying the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last word goes to visitors Dorothy and Brian Thompson, from Rhos on Sea, regulars to Bodnant who said it was absolutely thrilling to be able to enjoy this magical new area of garden. Thanks to them and everyone who came on Saturday – staff, volunteers, visitors, guests and performers – for making this historic day such an occasion.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Easter treats at Bodnant Garden

The daffodils are out, the blossom is bursting…and we’re looking forward to a fabulous, floral Easter at Bodnant Garden.

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Daffodils in The Old Park

Throughout April visitors can enjoy swathes of daffodils in the meadows – a sight not to be missed. The result of around a century of planting by generations of gardeners, they now stretch as far as the eye can see across acres of the Old Park, Chapel Park and Glades, and throughout the whole garden.

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Magnificent magnolias

You can marvel at the garden’s National Collection of magnolias, some more than 100 years old, and the emerging array of rhododendrons for which Bodnant Garden is famous. Also coming into flower are scented viburnums and cherry blossom trees, while tulips and herbaceous plants are filling out beds and borders with colour.

There’s an extra treat for visitors this year too, who can be among the first to explore a new area of the garden – the Far End, ten acres of tranquil riverside haven which is opening on March 28, for the first time in the Bodnant’s 140-year history. Until now visitors have not been able to walk further than the famous Waterfall Bridge in The Dell but soon they can discover what lies beyond…waterside walks, a skating pond, boathouse and arboretum of Champion Trees.

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The Far End

Horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden is performing the official opening at a special day of celebration on Saturday, March 28, at 12 noon. There will also be harp music, Morris Dancing, coracle making and guided walks for visitors to enjoy on the opening day.

There will be a new refreshment kiosk in the Far End serving hot and cold snacks, plus seating and toilet facilities – you’ll be able to picnic in the new area too. Special mini-buses will be running to take people from the garden’s main car park to the Far End during Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend.

Residents of the neighbouring village of Eglwysbach are being invited to the garden free for the opening day – free entry tickets are available from the village shop.

An Easter Egg Trail day at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire.

The following weekend at Bodnant Garden it’s all about the chocolate! There will be a Cadbury Easter Egg Trail on Sunday and Monday (April  5 and 6) from 10am-3pm (£2 per child, no booking needed) plus art activities for youngsters in The Old Mill in The Dell.

On March 31, there’s a rare opportunity to look inside the Poem mausoleum, which is open on the last Tuesday of each month, starting this month.

The days are lengthening and lightening, the birds are singing, there are lovely spring displays and a whole new section of the garden open to the public so put Bodnant Garden on your list of things to do this Easter.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Final push for The Far End

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith just over a week to go until the opening of The Far End it’s all hands to the pump. We had a big blitz day this week when gardeners, volunteers and office staff got together for a final push – mulching, gravelling and turfing the ten acres. Everyone was rewarded by luscious lemon cake at tea break and pizza at lunch time, provided by our very own Pietro from the Pavilion tearoom, enjoyed around the brazier in The Dell. There were even chocolatey prizes for the best team efforts.

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Grass seed sowing (left) and gardeners Nathan and Fiona

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Volunteers Joy and Karen 

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Property administrator Rose mucking in, left

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Gravelling the new bridge path

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Pulling his weight, new head gardener John, right

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The massive Williams bed mid and after mulching

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Gravelling before and after

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Nathan and Dell supervisor Maxine, left

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Gardener Paul and property manager William enjoy a paned

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Looking tranquil in March sunshine, The Far End

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It’s taken many years of renovation to get to this point, so don’t miss our big opening day, on Saturday, March 28.

Garden manager Michael McLaren from Bodnant’s donor family will be here to welcome visitors and the horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden will perform the official opening at 12 noon with a ribbon cutting on the new bridge.

We’ve got harp music at 11am and 1pm in the boathouse, Morris Dancing and coracle making through the day plus guided walks during the afternoon. There’s also a new refreshment kiosk serving hot and cold snacks, plus seating and toilet facilities, and special mini-buses will be running to take people from the garden’s main car park to the Far End during Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend.

Residents of our neighbouring village of Eglwysbach are being invited to the garden free for the opening day – free entry tickets are available from the village shop.

It is the first time in Bodnant Garden’s 140-year history that The Far End has been open to the public so join us for a historic day!

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Spring is in the air…and in the garden

Spring is definitely in the air; mornings and evenings are lighter, birds are singing, snowdrops are giving way to daffodils and even the odd tulip; the first magnolia has burst it’s buds  – the grand old Magnolia campbellii on the Croquet Terrace – and gardeners were even spotted wearing t-shirts during one fine, sunny day this week.

Here’s a look at some of the colourful sights and scents to be enjoyed around the garden right now:

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Rhododendron racemosum, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Pink Spotted Lady’

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Daphne bholua, Narcissus ‘Peeping Tom’, Iris reticulata ‘Alida’

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Rhododendron ‘Portia’, Helleborus x hybridus (white)

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Helleborus x hybridus ‘Ashwood Strain’ and Euphorbia characias

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Magnolia campbellii and Tulipa ‘Show Winner’

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Narcissus cyclamineus and Pulmonaria ‘Lewis Palmer’

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Cyclamen coum and Eranthis hyemanis ‘Guinea Gold’

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Scilla mischtschenkoana and Rhododendron ‘Ostara’

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Pastel splashes of Rhododendron praecox all around the garden

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

 

 

 

The Far End – it’s getting closer!

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On March 28, after years of renovation work, we’re opening up a new area to the public and it’s all hands to the pump right now as we make the final push before opening day.

The Far End is ten acres of tranquil riverside. Some of you might have seen it in our Secret Bodnant walks last year exploring private areas of the garden, but until now most visitors have not been able to walk further than the famous Waterfall Bridge in The Dell. Soon everyone can explore what lies beyond…waterside walks, a Skating Pond, boathouse and arboretum.

Horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden will perform the official opening at a special day of celebration on Saturday, March 28. That day we’ll also have harp music in the boat house, demonstrations of coracle making on the lakeside, country dancing, guided walks, a nature trail for children and refreshments.

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 Then and now, the Skating Pond in the Far End

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The Far End is quite different in character to other parts of the garden – unlike the formal Italianate Terraces or the dramatic Dell with its rushing river and waterfall – here the paths lead visitors to a small lake which is quiet, peaceful and full of wildlife.

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 The smaller Otter Pond

It is one of the oldest parts of the garden, originally laid out by Bodnant’s creator Henry Pochin from the 1870s who envisaged it as The Wild Garden in the style of Victorian garden designer William Robinson. Pochin began by creating paths along the riverside and planting conifers, some of which are now Champion Trees. Pochin’s daughter Laura and grandson Henry McLaren laid out the large Skating Pond and Boat House and continued planting trees and shrubs from all around the world.

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The original thatched Boat House, which has now been restored

The area was never opened to the public but over the last few years gardeners have been renovating banks, beds and paths, creating a new circular walkway and bridge which will give visitors an easy access, level route around this beautiful part of the garden. The work hasn’t been without setbacks. In November 2011 flooding devastated the area, washing away new plantings, damaging paths and leaving a trail of debris…but the next day garden supervisor Maxine Singleton and her team were clearing up and starting again.

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Supervisor Maxine with gardeners Steve and Fiona

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Steve and Alex doing some aquatic gardening

Now, three years on, the Far End has been rejuvinated and is ready to open, though renovation and replanting work will be ongoing. Christine Walkden, a horticulturalist well known for her TV and radio work – and friend and fan of Bodnant Garden – will cut a ribbon officially opening the area at 12 noon. It’s a historic event for Bodnant so be among the first to see this secret garden unveiled!

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Christine Walkden with staff and volunteers at the garden last year

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

View from a tree

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Our intrepid arborists have been taking down an old oak tree in the North Garden – and got these stunning shots of the garden from the canopy. If you haven’t got a head for heights look away now!

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For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

 

Plant a snowdrop for posterity

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Our Old Park meadow is carpeted with snowdrops right now and with a little help from visitors there will soon be 15,000 more. From February 14 to 22 we’re inviting people to join gardeners and volunteers in a mass planting for posterity.

The Old Park is a rolling open meadow landscaped with native oak and beech trees, thought to be the oldest part of the original garden dating back to the Georgian era. Only opened to the public in 2013, it is now being managed as a wildlife meadow – the display of snowdrops are followed by swathes of daffodils in the spring and wildflowers in the summer.

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Gardeners and volunteers have been planting snowdrops in the meadow for the last five years to ensure a bigger and better display in future.

This time of year it is traditional to plant snowdrops ‘in the green’ (at the end of flowering but when the leaves are still green). Visitors can drop by through the week and lend a hand at any time from 11am to 1pm. All plants and tools are provided, just bring are sturdy clothes and footwear.

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All are welcome to drop by and join in with the planting, whether for five minutes or an hour – the more the merrier! It’s also a chance to have a look around our Winter Garden, now in its third year and positively blooming. In fact the whole garden is showing signs of spring and it’s a wonderful time to visit.

There are also events for families in the garden during half term, with a craft workshop in The Old Mill on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, February 16-18, 11am to 1pm. Don’t forget you can bring dogs too on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until the end of February.

No booking is required and there is no extra charge for the snowdrop planting or craft workshop (normal garden admission prices apply), but for information contact Bodnant Garden on 01492 650460.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT