Bodnant Garden is slowly giving up its secrets as the gates open to areas which have, until now, been closed to the public.
From Monday (July 1) the gates to the Old Park will open to visitors who can, for the first time, enjoy a stroll through this picturesque meadow brimming with wildflowers and mature native trees. Work is underway to open other parts of the garden in the near future too.
The Old Park is the oldest area of Bodnant Garden. It is thought to have been landscaped when the original house was built in the 1700s in the naturalistic style of the day, with native trees, rolling fields and a ha-ha (a type of ditch) to keep sheep and cows away from the house. The estate was bought by Victorian industialist Henry Davis Pochin in the 187os who remodelled the original Georgian style mansion and set about shaping the rest of the garden, but the Old Park has remained unchanged over the years.
The area has always been visible from the public garden, offering visitors open views of swathes of snowdrops in winter, daffodils in the spring, wildflowers in summer and, in autumn, a tantalising vista across to the acers in Chapel Park. However, from next week the gates to the Old Park will be finally open and people will be able to amble through to the Shrub Borders beyond enjoying the sights up close.
Visitors will also be able to see the work being done to preserve the area’s wildlife. When surveyed in 2010, the meadow contained 23 species of grasses and wildflowers. It will be cut in August, the hay removed to keep soil fertility low, which encourages wildflowers to grow, and then grazed by sheep in the autumn.
Bill Warrell, area supervisor at Bodnant Garden, says: “We are delighted to be opening the Old Park for the first time. One of Bodnant’s three species-rich meadows, visitors will now have the chance to spot some of the 23 varieties of flowers and grasses present, as well as butterflies, day-flying moths and bees. We hope that the public will also enjoy the new views of the house, garden and Snowdonia, whilst strolling through gently swaying grassland.”
Next year we will be opening another part of the garden which has been closed to the public. The Yew Dell at the far south of the garden is a tranquil wooded area planted with rhododendrons, reminiscent of a Himalayan valley. Following this, in 2015, there are plans to open the area known as the Skating Pond at the far end of The Dell.
The Old Park through the seasons
By gardener Fran Llewellyn