This year we’re marking a special centenary of Bodnant Garden’s grand terraces, with their rose gardens, lily pools and stunning mountain views.
Our famous terraces were completed just before the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 and are probably the biggest achievement in the garden’s 140-year development. They are a testament to the vision of the garden’s founder family and also to the men who built them too. It’s sad to think that some of that workforce went away to the fight and never came back; that all that achievement and creativity in our little corner of North Wales was followed by four years of death and destruction on the battlefields of Europe.
But the fact that roses are still blooming on our beautiful terraces, and visitors from all over the world come to see them a hundred years later, is a life affirming and a lasting tribute.
The five Italianate terraces were built by the garden’s owner Henry McLaren in the years between 1904 and 1914, with some final works in 1919. He completely resculpted the grassed hillside overlooking the Snowdonian mountain range creating a Top Rose Terrace, lawned Croquet Terrace, Lily Terrace with pond, Lower Rose Terrace with pergola walkways and Canal Terrace with it’s now iconic canal pond and Pin Mill.
It was a grand earth and stone moving project all done by hand by men with wheelbarrows. It is estimated that the work done by 50 labourers in an hour before WW1 would equate to one skilled labourer using machinery after 1966. Granite was quarried from the surrounding estate to build great buttressed walls which supported the earthed up levels and provided shelter for tender and exotic new plants being introduced to the garden from abroad such as Chinese magnolias.
In recent years the two rose terraces have been completely renovated; the Top Rose Terrace in 2006 and the Lower Rose Terrace in 2012. Gardeners had to dig out and replace around 500 tonnes of soil from both terraces; paths were re-laid and pergolas repainted. The beds were then planted with fragrant English Roses, many from the award winning David Austin collection, which provide a continuous display from June to October.
On June 25 there’s chance to explore the rose terraces with one of the gardeners who cares for them, with an afternoon guided tour. On July 15 visitors can enjoy a unique opportunity to meet Michael Marriot, technical director of the award-winning David Austin Roses, who was involved in the renovation of the rose beds. He will be giving a morning tour of the rose terraces and this will be followed by slap up breakfast in the Pavilion tearoom. Then In August there will be a planting of a special rose to mark the completion of the terraces and the centenary of the First World War.
For information about any events and to book a place on the breakfast walk (cost £25) contact the garden office on 01492 650460.