Having a field day at Bodnant Garden

July is meadows month when, up and down the land, we celebrate this precious native habitat.

Plas newydd-3Here at Bodnant Garden we’re inviting visitors to enjoy our own meadows at their swaying, summer peak, swishing with the sound of Yellow Rattle seed-heads and buzzing with insects. We recently welcomed local school children – our events and engagement officer Charlie led the pupils of Ysgol Eglwysbach on a perfect, sunny nature trail around Furnace Meadow, newly opened to the public this year.

Our gardeners have been out exploring too, recently joining colleagues on a meadow study day looking at the conservation work done by National Trust Wales at Moss Farm near Ysbyty Ifan – and coming back buzzing with inspiration for our own grassy acres.

The traditional native meadow is an endangered species in Britain today so this restored plot at Moss Farm (seen below, on a somewhat damper day) is a precious example of what we’ve lost in the landscape… and what can yet be put back.

19665302_10155547334699214_813117273265426706_n

The meadow has been restored in partnership with conservation group Plantlife, which has spearheaded the Coronation Meadows project. This initiative aims to create a ‘model’ meadow in every county in the UK, harvesting seed from these wildflower-rich donor meadows which is distributed to other local meadows-in-the-making.

Moss Farm is one such Coronation Meadow and wildflower seed from here has been donated to other local sites in Gwynedd and the Conwy Valley – including a field belonging to Plantlife’s own botanist Trevor Dines, near Bodnant Garden.

IMG_6532Bodnant gardeners Hollie, Christina, Harvey with Trevor Dines of Plantlife on their field trip to Trevor’s meadow, spotting Eye Bright, Bird’s Foot Trefoil and Betany – indicators of a propsering meadow.

eyebright  birds foot 19665162_10155547334569214_6644573755328521372_n

Our garden team visited Trevor’s Farm after viewing the donor site at Moss Farm. It was a great day learning about the diversity of meadow habitats, discovering wild flowers…and impressively-horned cattle!

IMG_6508 dd5xqr8wsaah6a2.jpg

It’s inspiration for our own conservation work at Bodnant Garden, where we manage three wildflower meadows – the Old Park (opened to the public in 2012), Furnace Meadow (newly opened in 2017) and Cae Poeth Meadow (opening 2019.)  Since 2012 we’ve been working to a grassland management plan to enrich the wildlife found there with traditional, low level maintenance – a regime of mowing and removing hay in August, grazing with sheep in autumn, avoiding fertilisers and herbicides, along with sowing seed of Yellow Rattle to keep down grasses and encourage the growth of flowers. Already we’ve seen an increase in wildflowers flowers in The Old Park (seen below), including orchids.

Old Park summer

Why do it? Today in the UK there remains only 3% of the meadows which existed in the 1930s – that’s a staggering loss of 7.5 million acres of wild flower grassland.  In conservation terms the knock on effect is a massive decline in butterflies and bees, which has big implications for the pollination of our crops and gardens. There is an effect on water quality too; low use of chemicals and low intensity grassland management reduces the level of pollutants entering water sources and nutrients being washed out of the soil. In the larger scheme of things, there’s evidence the decline in grasslands may be affecting climate change too, as they store and use carbon at a higher rate than forests.

That’s why, alongside Plantlife, National Trust Wales is a leading partner in the campaign Save Our Magnificent Meadows, a Lottery funded effort to restore wildflower meadows and other grasslands.

We’re also working with Plantlife at Parc Farm, the National Trust site on the Great Orme. This limestone headland provides a very different grassland habitat to the damp meadow at Moss Farm but here, careful management can again make a world of difference to wildlife. Grazing with sheep is helping to keep grasses down and allow quite unique wildflowers to thrive (seen below, images courtesy of Plantlife.)

Join us celebrating our precious grassland heritage at Bodnant Garden, Great Orme and other National Trust Wales sites this month. You can find out more here :

IMG_6719

 

 

 

Bodnant’s Bath cleans up at horticulture awards

We did it again! Bodnant Garden has won another industry award for horticultural excellence. The garden team’s transformation of The Bath has been named Best Garden Restoration and Development Project 2017, by Horticulture Week magazine.

pool

An award-winning tropical garden from Bill Warrell, Graeme Jones, Harvey Baker, Roger Chesters and Lynne Clifton

Our Visitors Services team also made the final five for a volunteering award, giving Bodnant Garden two moments in the spotlight among a host of renowned UK organisations. (Another award should have gone to gardener Lynne Clifton for fastest sprint to the podium to collect the certificate – despite some pre-event nerves, there was just no holding her back!)

19429680_1482825888431615_6517026061134862382_nLynne travelled to the awards at Woburn Abbey Sculpture Gallery on June 28th to represent the Glades garden team, along with events officer Charlie Stretton representing the Laburnum Archers and myself (Fran, garden media officer). It was a long day on many trains, but rewarded by great company and the pleasure of seeing Bodnant Garden showcased among the horticultural cream of the nation.

Horticulture Week is a leading industry magazine found in garden mess rooms up and down the land. Their Custodian Awards 2017 received entries from wide-ranging organisations from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Thiepval, to bodies such as the National Trust, English Heritage, Woodland Trust, as well as council parks and private gardens.

Nominations were judged by independent panel of judges including Tony Arnold, chair of the Professional Gardeners Guild, Sally Drury, technical editor of Horticulture Week, Sue Ireland former open spaces director of the City of London, gardens consultant Alan Sargent and arboriculture expert Dave Lofthouse. Presenting the awards, Lord Michael Heseltine spoke about the importance of gardens and green space and how they could transform disadvantaged communities.

joe2-bodnant-garden-the-bath-in-october-10.jpgBodnant Garden won the category Best Garden Restoration and Development Project, for The Bath (seen above, last September) The tropical redesign by former supervisor Bill Warrell and the team beat off competition from projects at Quarry Bank National Trust and Compton Verney House Trust.

Bill, now head gardener at our NT neighbours Plas Newydd and Penrhyn Castle, was over the moon at the news when tweeted and sent congratulations to his old muckers. He added: “I am delighted for the team at Bodnant Garden that they have received this prestigious award. It is wonderful recognition for all the hard work that went in to making the renovation of the Bath a success.”

Pentax Digital Cameralaburnum-archers-team-1
Our Laburnum Archers (seen above) was shortlisted for the Best Community/Volunteer Project, alongside Hardwick Hall (National Trust), Audley End (English Heritage) and Woburn Abbey – the award going to Woodland Trust for Observatree, a project which created a tree health early warning system for tree pests and diseases using citizen science.

Stiff competition…in fact surveying the organisations present at the ceremony, Bodnant Garden has cause to be proud. Having won the Horticulture Week awards in 2016 for the renovation of the Far End we’re now on a roll and aiming for the hat-trick next time!

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Toasting Bodnant Garden’s solar success

UPDATE: It’s official, National Trust Wales and friends scooped the Community award!

Bodnant-2

At Bodnant Garden’s Pavilion tearoom, Thomas and Gareth Jones from Carbon Zero, William Greenwood, Bodnant Garden manager, and Alex Turrell, NT environmental practices advisor

Bodnant Garden is in the running for a major national energy award – for our solar-powered tearoom.

It’s one of three pioneering renewable energy projects for National Trust Wales which are being recognised at the British Renewable Energy Awards (BREA) on Thursday, June 15. We’re shortlisted in the Pioneer, Community Group and Outstanding Project award categories at the awards ceremony at The Savoy Hotel in London.

Keith Jones, National Trust Wales environmental adviser, says: “We are thrilled to be nominated for three awards, including one of only two shortlisted organisations for the main overall Pioneer Award.”

2012CARBON ZERO01

Gareth Jones of Carbon Zero and Paul Southall, NT advisor

Bodnant Garden’s £100,000 solar array scheme, installed by Carbon Zero, is a contender for the Outstanding Project Award. Keith says: “The stunning 50kw solar system installed on a curved hillside on the car park of the Grade I listed garden is a first of its type for the National Trust.

“We took an informed gamble and draped the PV on half an acre of hillside, while ensuring that the system would be organic in form, super-efficient in practice and be an attraction in itself for the world-renowned garden’s annual 250,000 visitors.

“It involved picking a cable route through the myriad of ancient oaks and using micro diggers and elbow grease to get the cable through.

Bodnant-3

Our solar system alsa powers an electric charging point in the car park

“The system is now viewed as art and engineering.  It has already been judged one of the top five PV systems in the world, purely on how it looks. Being listed with globally significant systems shows that we have done something special here. It has pricked the imagination of what is possible without having to spend millions of pounds.”

Also nominated is a network of five community energy companies, called Cyd Ynni (Energy Together), which has been shortlisted for the Community Group Award. The companies support each other to develop renewable energy projects so that they can make their own electricity from hydro power and have so far delivered three hydros, of 270kw, 100kw and 50kw.

IMG_4145 - Copy (2)

Hooray for green energy. Keith Jones at the National Trust’s Hafod y Llan hydro in Snowdonia

“The organisation is based in the old slate valleys around Llanberis and Bethesda, in one of the poorest areas in Wales with some of the highest fuel poverty rates in UK and the oldest housing stock in Europe,” explains Keith. “It has piloted and now operates the first end-to-end energy supply co-operative in the UK. One pilot in Bethesda is supplying local houses with local energy, saving householders on average 30% off their bills.

“We are empowering people. The network successfully crowd-sourced £700,000 in eight weeks for the two projects by working together. The vision is to work together to make our communities sustainable and make the place fit for future generations.”

National Trust Wales has another eight hydros in feasibility, an anaerobic digester, a wind turbine, one large PV solar array and several more multiple generator local supply projects developing. Bodnant has also now installed a solar array at the Far End of the garden, to power the refreshment kiosk there, and is developing its use of renewable energy all around the property.

For more information about our green energy initiatives see our website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden and http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/green-energy-in-wales

 

 

 

Join the patter of Paws on the Great Orme

Attention dog walkers! We know you love our summer #WagWednesdays here at Bodnant Garden, and you’ll soon be able to explore another National Trust beauty spot nearby on the Great Orme.

14560029_1180842595309405_3583900072085595149_o

Parc Farm shepherd Dan Jones 

We’re co-hosting a dog fun day at Parc Farm, part of the famous Llandudno landmark which National Trust bought for the nation in 2015, to celebrate the opening of new public footpaths.

Paws on the Great Orme on Sunday, June 18, features fun dog shows and demonstrations and storytelling for families. It’s also a chance for visitors to look around Parc Farm and learn about the special farming and conservation work being done there by National Trust Wales and our partner organisation Plantlife – as well as the work of Conwy County Borough Council and PONT Cymru on the wider headland.

William Greenwood, property manager for Bodnant Garden and Parc Farm, says:  “Parc Farm is a breathtaking beauty spot and it’s great to be able to share it with walkers, and their dogs. Come and enioy this stunning area and see the work we’re doing to protect it for future generations of people and wildlife.”

18518742_10212404616291689_1603847223_n

Farmer Dan at work with his dog Tian

Perched on top of the Great Orme headland, the 145-acre Parc Farm enjoys far-reaching views of Snowdonia and the Irish Sea and is home to rare and special wildlife found nowhere else on earth. It is being farmed in traditional way for the National Trust by tenant farmer Dan Jones who is practising close-shepherding to encourage the rare species found there. Dan’s flock of Llyn and Herdwick sheep have been provided by charity Plantlife, which is supporting the conservation work there.

P1060852

Dogs on short leads please! Ranger Doug with his buddy at Parc Farm

Our National Trust ranger Doug Don and his volunteers have also been busy creating two new footpaths from the Great Orme summit past Parc Farm. It will be the first time the public have had access to this area since the farm was enclosed in 1875.

Dogs on short leads will be welcomed from June until December.  Over winter and spring they will be closed to reduce disturbance to sheep during lambing and to allow the Great Orme’s protected birds, the Chough, to feed their young.

Doug says: “We’re really pleased to be able to welcome visitors to parts of Parc Farm after such a long time. It will be seasonal, to balance access with the needs of farming and nature conservation, and we’ll be monitoring the effect on wildlife.

“But we hope people will come and enjoy it. All we ask is that walkers stick to the waymarked paths, keep dogs on a short lead, clear up after their pets and follow the signage and notices. All restrictions and closures will be clearly posted.”

IMG_6048

Do not disturb…footpaths will be closed at certain times of year to protect sheep and other wildlife

Paws on the Great Orme takes place at Parc Farm starting at 11am (some parking is available on the summit, from where the two new footpaths begin.) There will be a fun dog show at 12.30 plus dog obedience demonstrations at 11.30am and 2.15pm by Valley dog Training, and sheep dog demonstrations at 12 noon and 2.45pm by shepherd Dan Jones. Visitors can also have a go at mini agility with Valley Dog Training and talk to members of Butterfly Conservation, RSPCA, Guide Dogs Cymru, North Wales Wildlife Trust, Conwy County Borough Council who will be at the event. Refreshments will be provided by Bodnant Garden’s catering team.

To find out more contact our National Trust office on 01492 650460.

Becky’s helping the helpers at Bodnant Garden #VolunteersWeek

Welcome to Becky Hitchens, Bodnant Garden’s new volunteer co-ordinator. If you’re thinking of volunteering with us, look no further…

IMG_6246Becky has worked with National Trust volunteers for six years, as Visitor Services Manager at Lanhydrock in Cornwall and Visitor and Volunteering Experience Manager at Dyrham Park.

Her role at Bodnant Garden will be all about making the experience as a volunteer even better, and recruiting more (yes, more!) members to the 120-strong team. It’s a new position created because of the growth of the garden in recent years – with the opening of new areas, new refreshment facilities, extended opening times and a bigger events programme.

Becky says: “As the garden gets more popular with visitors, we need additional support from volunteers in roles like car parking, giving guided tours and helping with queue management, to make sure that visitors have a great day. As the garden itself grows we need more volunteer gardeners to help with the ever growing list of gardening tasks – imagine weeding 80 acres by yourself!”

As we get more volunteers we need more support in managing and supporting volunteers too, from simple things like making sure everyone gets a name badge and making sure everyone gets a cuppa at break time, to planning work rotas.

“I’m also going to be looking at what other opportunities there are for volunteers here,” says Becky. “Many volunteers have enormous skill-sets and there are lots of ways for people to get involved. We’ll be looking at ways in which we can offer opportunities to different groups too, such as students looking for work experience or families that want to volunteer together, as well as looking at whether there are any opportunities for volunteers to learn new skills.”

Here’s just some of our Bodnant Garden volunteers at work:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Becky has walked the walk, having been a volunteer herself as a student – in Truro Cathedral, The Royal Cornwall Museum, Bristol City Museum, the Oriental Museum in Durham and many other museums.

She says: “I learnt various skills as a volunteer, but the most important thing was learning to talk to people, from customers to directors, and the experience really helped me when starting out with my career.

“My proudest moment working with volunteers was the day we opened the roof-top experience at Dyrham Park. I recruited 90 new volunteers to be ‘roof guides’ and it was a new experience for me, having never managed a walkway suspended over a building site before! We all worked together to learn about roofing techniques, scaffolding, stonework and worked out a plan for how we’d show the visitors all the best bits of the roof. The day we opened was fantastic because it went so smoothly and the visitors really enjoyed it.

“I love working with volunteers. The amount of knowledge and the skills that volunteers bring is astounding and I feel lucky that I get to work with such generous, wonderful people every day.”

Across the National Trust we’re lucky enough to have more than 60,000 fantastic volunteers, who lend their time and provide vital support for the work we do. This #VolunteersWeek (1 – 7 June) we’re celebrating every single person who help us to care for hundreds of special places all across the country.

For more information see our website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/get-stuck-in-for-volunteers-week

 

 

Big hug for our Bodnant volunteers

Keeping the 80 acres of Bodnant Garden pristine and welcoming for visitors takes a lot of people-power and volunteers are the lifeblood of the team. It’s national #VolunteersWeek from June 1 to 7, so we’re celebrating Bodnant’s brilliant band of helpers.

IMG_6270We’re blessed here with around 120 volunteers who give a dizzying array of skills – from gardening to teaching to carpentry and everything in between – across a range of roles.

IMG_6246We now have a new volunteer co-ordinator too, to help support our helpers. Becky Hitchens joined Bodnant Garden this month. Becky has worked with National Trust volunteers for six years, as Visitor Services Manager at Lanhydrock in Cornwall and Visitor and Volunteering Experience Manager at Dyrham Park. She’ll now be co-ordinating our own growing team.

And what a team. Bodnant Garden ‘vols’ support us in all aspects of our work as national conservation charity, giving back-up to the everyday work of our staff teams. They also enable us to take on large scale projects like opening new parts of the garden…and turn their hands to just about every unexpected eventuality that comes along on a daily basis, whether it’s providing First Aid to injured wildlife, or helping reunite lost children with parents.

Visitor Services volunteers meet and greet coach parties, help with guided tours, assist with garden events from weddings to falconry displays, do carpentry and maintenance, run storytelling and pond dipping for children – and much more:

Richard and Tabitha preparing conkers for autumn activities; student teacher Elizabeth helping with family events; Dave our Chief Christmas Elf; student Gethin, our events and social media assistant; guide Steve (who went above and beyond the call of duty recently, growing an explorer’s beard for our Planthunter’s Tent; and Carol manning our off-site Bodnant Garden display at Llandudno prom.

They have also been the driving force behind refurbishing the Old Mill in The Dell – transforming it into an indoor space which is now a hub for meetings, workshops and children’s events and a venue for the hugely popular Elves’ Workshop at Christmas time.

Our garden volunteers muck in with the team and help with all aspects of daily routine maintenance, whether that’s in the beds and borders, inside the nursery or even in the office engraving labels and cataloguing our plant collection:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_6274

Joy and Karen and preparing the Far End for opening; Keith our plant label supremo; and garden volunteers being filmed for BBC Gardener’s World in 2016

IMG_1841 - Copy

Garden volunteers have also played a big part in enabling us to renovate and open new areas of the garden to the public in the last few years, such as the Yew Dell, Far End and, most recently, Furnace Wood and Meadow in spring 2017.

As well as helping Bodnant Garden, volunteering offers great opportunities for you too. Whether you are retired and eager to put your skills to use in the community, or in work, looking for work or studying and looking for new experiences and to meet new people.

As well as the chance to work in the beautiful surroundings of one of Britain’s most famous gardens, as a volunteer you get free entry to National Trust properties in the UK and a discount card for National Trust outlets. You’ll have the opportunity to attend to regular meetings and play a full part in planning – and of course get to go to the ‘office’ Christmas party.

Whether you can help for a fixed time such as holiday periods, or for regular days each week, we’d love to hear from you. Training and support is provided, just contact Becky here at Bodnant Garden, on becky.hitchens@nationaltrust.org.uk for more details.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Heavenly scent of spring at Bodnant Garden

IMG_5892

We’re basking in a spectacular spring at Bodnant Garden. It began with an early display of daffodils, encouraged by a mild winter, and thanks to a spell of bright, sunny days the season has just got better and better. Beds and borders are ablaze with bright tulips, wooded glades speckled with bluebells, and everywhere the blooms of rhododendrons, magnolias, viburnums and other flowering shrubs and trees hang overhead and decorate the ground underfoot.

The garden is a kaleidoscope of colours; but the scent is something else. An intoxicating atmosphere hangs in the air everywhere you wander, mingling as you pass from plant to plant; the soapy-white aroma of Rhododendron loderi ‘King Goerge’ transforms into the sweetness of wisteria before merging into lemon-fresh Rhododenrdron luteum.

We hope you enjoy some images of Bodnant Garden at blossom time. Close your eyes and imagine the scent…or better still, come and visit!

IMG_5902

In the upper garden: Clematis and wisteria cloaking terrace walls; bright and blousy peonies and tulips filling beds; a riot of rhododendrons in the North Garden; pockets of Himalayan poppies and primulas

IMG_5937 IMG_5939

IMG_5882 Bath April 2017 (2)

IMG_5958

IMG_5970 IMG_5984

Even the Winter Garden looks beautifully spring-like!

IMG_5881

In The Glades: Asian rhododendrons, acers, magnolias and primulas; native bluebells; our star plants of high spring Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Firebush) and Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree)

IMG_5913

IMG_5928 IMG_5923

IMG_5878

IMG_5922 IMG_5895

Magnolia soulangeana, drifts of blue Omphalodes beneath trees, and Viburnum plicatum

IMG_5932

In the valley garden: Scented ivory Rhododendron ‘Penjerrick’ and yellow Rhododendron luteum; unfurling tree ferns on the newly opened Furnace Hill; the grand vista of towering conifers and seclusion of shady pathways

img_5959.jpg OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_5998

IMG_5989

IMG_5994

The spring spectacle will soon be crowned by the flowering of the Laburnum Arch – which we expect to be a week earlier this year (around the 20th of May), lasting for three weeks. A sudden change in weather can always set this back, so keep a watch on our website and social media for updates.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram