‘Transforming’ is how visitor Rosie Massey describes May at Bodnant, when the rhododendrons burst into life invigorating the garden…and the heart.
I gaze dreamily on the little stream as it gurgles noisily down the Welsh hillside to the valley bottom, dancing and cascading through narrow twisting channels hewn out of the surrounding earth. The water tumbles over rocks and stones covered in spongy moss which seems to be there deliberately to impede the water’s impatient journey.
It rushes between banks of lush green foliage, surrounded by an abundance of beautiful trees and shrubs. The stream races on in its timeless quest to reach the bottom of the hill, as shafts of sunlight slant and sparkle throughout the tall majestic trees and reflect in the cool, clear, tumbling water.
Birdsong, mostly sweet but occasionally loud and shrill, echoes through this beautiful hillside garden, a garden for all seasons, which despite crowds of garden lovers meandering through seems to retain utter peace and silence.
It is mid May when I visit this time and out in the open away from the woodland swathes of beautifully manicured, bright green lawns create a backdrop for the kaleidoscope of the richest colours imaginable. Gentle sunshine bathes the great banks of azaleas and rhododendrons which compete with each other, ablaze in every shade and spreading out like a giant tapestry in all directions.
Not just a glorious profusion of colours but also of rich, tantalising scents, the perfume hanging heavily in the warm balmy air of this late spring day; an amalgamation of hundreds of fragrant blooms, no one scent distinct from another but overpowering in its headiness. I want to smell each flower to identify each wonderful, exotic scent, then bottle it up and create one wonderful perfume I can wear.
I continue all along the woodland path but at the bottom now, on a level with the stream. From here the tall trees create a giant lacy umbrella high above me, blocking out most of the sunlight now, as the leaves sigh and whisper in the still, quiet air, creating a cool and gentle breeze. I wander slowly through this magical, peaceful place; transformed, any worries forgotten.
I stroll on through the garden, sitting occasionally to rest for a while, enjoying the coolness of the trees or the warmth of the sun. Gazing quietly around me and in no hurry I relish every moment here, until I finally make my way to the spectacular Laburnum Arch; a framework drenched in beautiful, golden yellow Laburnum blossom which hangs and drapes over the frame like a delicate lace curtain as one wanders through its length. This is the finale for me and for which, amongst everything else in this magnificent place, Bodnant Garden is famous.
Almost time to leave, but first I visit the excellent restaurant to enjoy some welcome and delicious refreshment. A perfect ending to a very special day spent amongst the sighing, whispering, magnificent trees and the glorious kaleidoscope of colours in this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty beside the stunning mountains and coastline of Snowdonia National Park.
By Rosie Massey, Warrington
A big Bodnant Garden thank you to Rosie for sending us this account of her visit last year.