The question on everyone’s lips is; when is the Laburnum Arch going to flower?! Well…I think we can safely say that it’s going to be a June arch – and we haven’t had one of those for at least 50 years. We normally bank on the world-famous spectacle drawing crowds from mid May. The last time anyone can remember it being this late is after the cold winter of 1962/63.
The flower panicles are starting to bloom at the sunnier, house-end of the arch, with the rest normally following suit soon afterwards, but we need a few more warm, bright days yet to get the full effect.
Elsewhere in the garden nature is finally catching up after the long, cold winter. There are still some late flowering magnolias to enjoy but it’s the rhododendrons and azaleas which are now having their day in the sun, producing a spring firework display of colour around the garden. There are so many to choose from…but if I had to pick one which stopped me in my tracks this week it would be Rhododendron luteum, with its canary yellow flowers and knock-you-down scent.
Closer to the ground, herbaceous plants of the moment include aquilegias, peonies, dicentras, primulas and of course the bluebells which still run through the garden in great sweeps.
Now joining the kaleidoscopic display of tulips in the upper garden are the massed rows of Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ while Trollius x cultorum ‘Superbus’ add buttercup-yellow splashes of sunshine through the Range borders, which are filling out as each day passes.
In the Shrub Borders you have to crane your neck skywards to see the tissue white flowers of the handkerchief tree Davidia involucrata – the first clues will probably be the fallen petals on the grass path in front of you! While you are there look out for Enkiathus campanulatus with its clusters of tiny pink bell-like flowers, the cream pom-pommed Viburnum plicatum ‘Grandiflorum’ and the lovely scented lilac Syringa vulgaris ‘Katherine Havemeyer’.
In The Dell fiery azaleas mingle with conifers such as Skiadopitys verticillata, ferns and skunk cabbage and (right) Rheum palmatum
In The Dell the rhododendrons and azaleas are at their finest, producing a glorious and heady display running right along the valley bottom; ferns are unfurling, hostas are swelling, Asiatic primulas and American skunk cabbage intermingle setting an other-wordly, almost primeval scene (thankfully there are no raptors here – though the weird, bulbous flower heads of the Rheum palmatum emerging from the undergrowth might make you do a double take!)
A quick mention must go to the rockery in The Dell which looks stunning just now with its stream cascading down through a backdrop of fiery azaleas, primulas and alpine plants.
The Winter Garden too is still surprising us all and proving that there’s much of interest even now winter flowering has passed, in the form of a subtle palette of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and grasses.
As we move into June who knows what weather will bring – all bets are off. Things may be flowering late but as spring meets summer that could make for some interesting combinations. Bring it on!
For more pictures see the album Now Showing on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT
By gardener Fran Llewellyn