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

 

 

 

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.

Big opening for #BodnantGardenFurnace

Pictures paint a thousand words…so we hope you enjoy this little round-up of our big opening day for Furnace Wood and Meadow, in full, glorious colour: 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ME =)Many of the images were taken by our volunteer Gethin here, who was duty photographer for the day, and by other staff and volunteers. They capture what a fantastic, frenetic and fun day it was from beginning to end…from the early round of media crews in the morning, the VIP speeches and the chainsaw opening ceremony, through to a sunny afternoon of trails, crafts and daffodil planting, closing with the mass devouring of a truly gigantic cake. I feel a caption competition coming on…

If you have images of the day to share we’d love to see them and include them in our photo gallery – send them to us marked #BodnantGardenFurnace.

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

 

Summer of love at Bodnant Garden

Love has been in the air at Bodnant Garden this summer…if not always that bright, yellow thing in the sky! Two couples recently defied damp August weather and got engaged at the garden, taking away some (hopefully) warm memories.

Jade Chapman popped the question to Jenny Martindale in our picturesque Boat House, with a little help from staff and volunteers who secretly arranged to present the couple with a bottle of champagne.

A welly-clad Jade and Jenny

Jade contacted Bodnant Garden to tell us of her plans and to ask for help arranging the surprise proposal, which we were glad to provide.

Property manager William Greenwood and events officer Charlie Stretton prepared the lakeside venue on a very wet Monday morning, putting up ribbons and pictures in the face of wind and driving rain. Volunteer Dave Horsely, who helps with our wedding functions at the garden, also stepped in as the champagne waiter – managing to loiter unsuspiciously around the Boat House until he was given the signal to pop out with the champers.

Charlie said:  “This was one of my more unusual duties as events officer! The Boathouse looked very pretty when we finished decorating it, but we were slightly worried that it would all blow away in the wind and rain.  Thank goodness for double- sided sticky tape. The sun came out just as the happy couple reached the Boathouse, and we were all so pleased when Jenny accepted.”

Jade, from The Wirral, said: “I have been to Bodnant Garden twice, once on a school trip and once with my family. I remembered it being gorgeous surroundings and it felt like I was so far from home I couldn’t believe the little paradise was this close.

Hut across lake - Copy 

The Boat House and, right, volunteer waiter Dave Horsley

“I love the Boathouse, as when you stand there looking out to the willows and the lake you could be in a Zen garden in Japan. It was so peaceful and beautiful, a perfect setting to propose.

“It couldn’t be more of a perfect day. The morning started off a little damp but once I got down on one knee and Jenny said yes the sun broke through the clouds and we were stood there layered up in wellies in sweltering heat! Thank you Bodnant Gardens for all your support and kind words.”

Emma Wiley kuts Loise and Maurice Raymond West Fri JUly 31

Emma Brookfield and Maurice Raymond West, from Southport, seen right, also defied a grey day to get engaged at the garden, sitting on the seat overlooking on the iconic Canal Terrace.

The delighted couple sent us pictures of the occasion. Emma said it would make for special memories and a lovely place to visit together in years to come.

Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales - gardens; view of the northern end of the canal terrace with the trees reflected in the water. Photo ID ref: 5862

The Canal Terrace seat, a pretty perfect setting for a proposal

Ah…it seems that whatever the weather you just can’t keep romance down. And the Bodnant Garden magic breaks through any amount of grey skies. Congratulations guys – thanks for sharing your very special days with us and we wish you all the best for the future.

(PS we do weddings too!)

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

 

Magical May at Bodnant Garden

may pix 058 - Copy

‘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.

in flower may 180

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.

may pix 024 - Copy

Rhododendron ‘Bluebird’

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.

may pix 062

Rhododendron citriniflorum

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rhododendron ‘Budget Farthing’

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.

Copy of Bodnant Laburnum Arch 2

The famous Laburnum Arch

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.