Magical May at Bodnant Garden

The Upper GardenWe’re all set for a magical May at Bodnant Garden. The month brings a crescendo of spring colour, from exotic rhododendrons to native bluebells and a riot of blossom in between all crowned, of course, by the show-stopping Laburnum Arch.


This year we’re pulling out all the stops to make the experience a memorable one for everyone. From the beginning of the month we’re opening the garden gates early, and late, so visitors can make the most of the spring flower show.

We’re also offering breakfasts in the tearoom for early birds and have recruited a team of special volunteers, Laburnum Archers, to help visitors coming here for the famous floral spectacle, which attracts around 50,000 people over three weeks.

The 55 metre-long Laburnum Arch was created by the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin in 1882 and is the longest and oldest in Britain. The display of golden flowers in late spring is the most visited, photographed and anticipated event of Bodnant Garden’s year.

We put ouGetAttachmentt an appeal earlier this year for volunteers to help with the display and our events and engagement officer Charlie Stretton has been busy recruiting and training the merry band, who will be in special Laburnum yellow uniforms.

Our Laburnum Archers will help direct visitors, answer queries, take photographs for people, hand out brollies if the weather’s wet or drinking water if it’s hot, and help make the Laburnum Arch experience fun, friendly and enjoyable for everyone.

To give everyone extended access to the garden, people will be able to visit from 9am in May and June and stay until 8pm on Wednesday evenings (from May to the end of August.) Dogs are welcome on Wag Wednesdays evenings too, from 5pm-8pm.

And fueling all those hungry visitors will be our award-winning Pavilion tearoom, which has recently undergone a makeover by staff and volunteers and will be providing breakfasts from 9am throughout May and June.

Azaleas and rhododendrons near the Shrub Borders at Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales

Other horticultural highlights to enjoy at this time are the rhododendrons. It’s said there’s a rhododendron in flower every month of the year at Bodnant Garden, but they are at their peak in May. The garden’s oldest were brought here from Asia by Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters. In the 1920s and 1930s some of these plants were cross-bred at Bodnant Garden to make new hybrids which are now beloved by gardeners all over the world.

Adding color to the palette is the blossom of cherries, viburnums, late flowering magnolias and many other shrubs and trees; herbaceous plants are filling beds and borders and drifts of native bluebells run through the grass glades and wooded areas of the garden.

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Now is also a great time to see garden projects underway – the renovation of the Bath poolside garden and the Canal Terrace borders – and to see the new Himalayan Poppy Bed near the Pin Mill, created last year, flowering for the first time.

The Laburnum Arch is the icing on our spring cake. We’ll keep everyone updated here, on or website, Facebook and Twitter, about its ETA. We’re all set, so watch this space!

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or catch up with us on Facebook  or Twitter.



Autumn’s so bright you’ll need to wear shades

There’s plenty to warm the cockles of your heart at Bodnant Garden this autumn. We’ve got 80 acres of autumn glow, plus events for all the family and a warm welcome in our tearooms.

Bodnant Garden is a firework display of colour in autumn, with the dazzling leaf colour of trees and shrubs, ripening fruit and berries and late flowering plants putting on a show to rival the bright colours of summer.

The garden’s 140-year-old collection of trees are at their finest at this time of year, especially in Chapel Park (seen below) where you can enjoy the reds, purples and ambers of Japanese acers plus many others – some exotics collected by plant hunters more than a century ago along with other beautiful native trees.

Chapel Park in all its autumn glory2

For the first time in the garden’s history this autumn, visitors can explore the arboretum in the newly opened lakeside area, The Far End, which includes some of the garden’s Champion Trees.

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In the formal gardens on The Terraces roses are still in bloom and herbaceous beds are full with late flowering asters, sedums and dahlias; in The Dell our swathes of hydrangeas are changing all the colours of the kaleidoscope as they age; and in the Shrub Borders plants are laden with berries and fruit.

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Look out for the weirdest fruit of the garden, the blue pods of Decaisnea fargesii (Dead Man’s Fingers), and giant raspberries of Cornus kousa (seen above). Birds are loving the autumn too as they make the most of the fruits on offer. There’s a chance to see them on October 9 with our Birds of Bodnant Walk at 11am. This is a free guided tour with an expert from Birdwatching Trips.

There’s plenty for younger visitors during half term week – from Monday October 26 to Friday October 31 we’re hosting Wild About Gardens Week with craft activities in the Old Mill in The Dell, from 11am to 2pm.

There will be environmental art around the garden and families will be encouraged to make their own from items like leaves and cones. There will also be a trail of pumpkins to lead people to the Old Mill. On Saturday, October 31, there are Halloween activities at The Far End and the Old Mill from 12am to 3pm including Making a Witch’s Hovel. These are free events so drop in at any time.

On Wednesday November 18 there’s a Walk with the Head Gardener – this is an opportunity to meet John Rippin, who took over in January, and find out about his vision for the future (cost £10, call 01492 650460 to book a place.)


And talking of walks…Dogs Welcome starts again in November (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), with the garden now open to our four-legged friends every day from January until the end of February.

If the candyfloss scent of Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree) gives you an appetite there are refreshments on offer every day in the Pavilion and Magnolia tearooms throughout the autumn, plus the kiosks in the Dell and Far End at weekends.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or catch up with us on Facebook  or Twitter.

Jewels of July at Bodnant Garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASummer at Bodnant Garden means roses, water lilies and formal beds and borders …and now, for the first time, wildflowers. We’ve created a mini-meadow next to the Pin Mill and it’s been a real success, with visitors and with butterflies, bees and dragonflies. The long border is being renovated and the idea was to sow a wildflower mix to create a summer display while we plan a new design. By popular request, we may be doing it again at other places around the garden in future.

Elsewhere, the garden is looking splendid is all its summer glory, from the rose-tinted formality of the Terraces to the drama of The Dell with it’s swathes of blue hydrangeas and the lakeside tranquiltiy of the Far End. Here’s a little tour in pictures:


Hot colours in The Range border


Calceolaria integrifolia (left) alliums and campanula on the Top Lawn


Dierama pulcherrimum (Angel’s Fishing Rod) on the Terraces

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Water lilies and roses, roses, roses…


Also causing a stir on the rose terraces, Lilium regale


Shrubs and perennials mingle in the shade of the Shrub Borders


Lilium martagon and Hemerocalis lilioasphodelus  


Sprawling Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (left) and Desmodium elegans


Lovely all in white, the Poem beds


Blue hydrangeas and Cardiocrum giganteum in The Dell


Astilbe and campanula light up the shade


You’ll even find a late flowering Rhododendron ‘Argosy’


Lush lakeside in the Far may spot an otter

Back to the upper the garden, and the subject of meadows…as well as out little ‘experiment’ at the Pin Mill we’re developing three wildflower meadows. The Old Park is already open to the public and we’re hoping to open Cae Poeth and Furnace meadows in the next few years. When last surveyed we identified 26 species of wildflowers in The Old Park. Come along and have a look for yourself; sit and enjoy the birds, butterflies and bees, even have a picnic. After your grand your of the garden, what nicer way to relax on a summer’s day?


For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or catch up with us on Facebook  or Twitter.



Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Skimmia japonica (2)It’s going to be a cracker of a Christmas at Bodnant this year, with more than ever to see and do during the festive season. We’ve joined forces with our neighbours Bodnant Garden Centre to make Christmas 2014 a spectacular seasonal event.

Enjoy frosty garden walks in the garden, shopping at the garden centre (which now includes a new Edinburgh Woollen Mill) and craft units, bring the children to meet Santa and the elves and top the day off with Christmas fare – from a sit-down turkey lunch to al fresco chestnuts and mulled wine.

??????????????????????????????? Bodnant Garden is now open all year-round (apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day with 80 acres of frosty winter landscape to enjoy, including a Winter Garden. Every weekend through December in the run up to Christmas visitors can enjoy guided winter walks with a gardener and, for the kids, an Elves’ Workshop in the Old Mill in The Dell. Visitors can also bring their dogs for a walk on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through the winter.

There will be hot lunches at the two garden tearooms plus al fresco refreshments in front of a roaring brazier in the Dell, a barbecue in the garden centre and a roasted chestnut stall. Visitors can also do some Christmas shopping in the new National Trust Gift shop.


Bodnant Garden Centre (seen above) has a huge range of Christmas ideas for shoppers, from cards, decorations and gifts to plants, and of course Christmas trees and wreaths. There will be a chance to do some late night shopping on Friday, December 19, and Santa will also be popping in to the grotto every weekend in December up to Christmas. A big new addition to the site is the Edinburgh Woollen Mill – perfect for those winter woollies! What’s more there’s a unique collection of local arts and crafts products at Bodnant Craft Centre, from jewellery, paintings, ceramics and furniture.

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 Meet Santa and the elves…and stroll in the Winter Garden


Events November 29-December 21, Saturdays and Sundays

Bodnant Garden:

Elves’ workshops 11am-2.50pm. Book on 01492 650460. Free event, normal garden admission.

Winter Garden walks, 12 noon and 2pm. Free event, normal garden admission.

Bodnant Garden Centre:

Santa’s Grotto 11am-4pm. Free entry, donation to charity.

Friday, December 19

Late night shopping until 8pm, Bodnant Garden NT shop, Bodnant Garden Centre, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Bodnant Craft Units.

Magnolia Tearoom open until 8pm.


For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or Facebook page

Spring puts on its best bonnet this Easter


  Happy Easter Bank Holiday everyone! It’s not all about the chocolate though…it’s about new beginnings, and where better to celebrate that than in the garden. If you make it along to ours this holidays there are some wonderful spring sights in store – and if you can’t make it we hope these pictures will bring you closer.

  We’ve got beautiful blossom as far as the eye can see but the rhododendrons are the stars of the show right now, like this Rhododendron davidsonianum framed perfectly against Magnolia x soulangeana and a blue sky.

  You might also like to join our celebration of these dazzling plants in our Rhododendron Festival, from April 17 to May 22,  which includes walks talks and workshops from April 17 to May 22.


Pulsatilla halleri subsp. slavica and Tulipa ‘Maytime


Ceanothus ‘Trewithen Blue’ and Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’


Kerria japonica and Osmanthus delavayi


Erithronium ‘Revolutum,’ and Amelanchier lamarckii


Viburnum carlesii and Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’

Chaenomeles Prunus 'Shirotae'

Chaenomeles ‘Spitfire’ and Prunus ‘Shirotae’

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or Facebook page


Autumn at Bodnant Garden – Bring it on!

 in flower oct2 090 lowIt’s time for conkers, hot fires, hot soup and crunching leaves – and we’ve got them all.

  The garden is being transformed by the colours of autumn.  Late blooming flowers are accompanied now by eye-catching foliage, berries and fruit and our garden’s mountain backdrop provides some breathtaking panoramas. In the upper garden the rose terraces and herbaceous beds are still giving their all, climbing wisteria is still perfuming the air and now vines, too, are scrambling across walls in a spectacular cascade of green and bronze.

  1266335_563790697001810_1811904171_oOn The Range lobelias, heleniums and long serving dahlias provide a firework display of colour, in contrast to The Lily Terrace which is a pastel picture of swaying grasses and perennials. Elsewhere in The Terraces phlox and asters fill out borders now also peppered with Autumn Crocus and cyclamen.

 Chapel Park in all its autumn glory low res The Shrub Borders are at their full glory; astilbes, crocosmia and Kaffir Lily light up beds beneath glowing acres, rowan, prunus and many other deciduous trees, native and exotic. The best include the pink-leaved Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree), with its heart shaped leaves which smell of burnt sugar, the flame red oak Quercus coccinea, a Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ (Purple Leaved Plum), Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum) and Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’. 

  bodnant nov12 020 lowThere are berries and fruit with wow factor too, including Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’, a pale green Styrax japonica (Japanese Snowbell), the aptly named Symplocos paniculata (Sapphire Berry) and a red Viburnum lobophyllum…and the fruit of Decaisnea fargesii (Dead Man’s Fingers) seen right, have to be seen to be believed.

  In the Dell you can warm you hands on Acer japonicum ‘Aureum’, the golden hues of Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and the muted pinks and mauves of hydrangeas. As herbaceous plants wane the eye is drawn upwards to the towering evergreen firs, cedars, hemlock and redwoods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Special mention must go to the hydrangeas of every variety which can be found throughout the garden right now; tall ivory H.paniculata grandiflora, delicate mauve lacecap H. aspera villosa, the fat nodding blue and pink mopheads of H.macrophylla, white H. arborescens, the oak leaved H. quercifolia, seen left, and the small but perfectly formed H. involucrata ‘Hortensis’ with flower heads like a bouquet of roses.

  In the new Winter Garden there are tantalising glimpses of what’s to come – spot the red and yellow Cornus stems, peeling white Birch bark, heathers and emerging hellibores as you pass by.

  As for other things to see and do this autumn…come and have a look at the renovation work on the Waterfall Bridge, the first in its 100 year history. You can bring your dog too! This autumn visitors will be able to bring their four-legged friends for walkies every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from November to March and we’ve got special events on November 1 and 2 to mark the start of our dogs welcome policy – displays by dog agility and rescue groups, dog competitions and a visit by the Dogs Trust who will be doing free microchipping.

 bodnant nov12 058 low Half term events for families include a Mystical Creatures Trail, autumn crafts, conker fights, a night-time Halloween walk and, in the lead up to Christmas, we’ll have an elves toy making workshop. For the grown ups there will be a series of gardening workshops and talks including a Propagation Walk and Champion Tree Walk with the experts. We’ll also be challenging ourselves and visitors to take part in the Great Leaf Rake on December 1 – help us set a record for the most leaves collected in one hour!

  And don’t forget to enjoy special warming winter menus at the Pavilion tearoom, or some al fresco refreshment stop in The Dell – hot drinks and soup by a brazier…perfect for that autumn walk.

See our website or Facebook page for more details about all these events at Bodnant Garden.

Welcome to pastures new

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Old Park through the seasons

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For more information see our Facebook page or website

By gardener Fran Llewellyn 

Now showing (any bets on the Laburnum?)


The first flowers are out on the Laburnum Arch

  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.


Davidia involucrata

    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!)


The Rockery in The Dell

    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.


The Winter Garden

  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

By gardener Fran Llewellyn

Now showing: Blossom time at Bodnant Garden


After a slow start the garden is truly waking up and making up for the long winter…and how! We have beautiful blossom and lush foliage in spades.

The stars of the show at the moment are the magnificent magnolias, stunning velvety ivory and pink flowers framed against blue spring skies and carpeting the ground like confetti where they fall. Among them are some grand specimens as old as the garden itself such as the many Magnolia campbellii – sourced and planted by the garden’s creators more than one hundred years ago and a testament to their vision.

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Rhododendrons, towering magnolias and blue skies

The rhododendrons for which Bodnant Garden is famous are now really romping away, providing a breathtaking kaleidoscope of colours around every corner, from vibrant reds, purples and tangerines to pastel yellows and pinks.

In the upper garden tulips in every shape, form and colour are lighting up beds and borders, clematis are climbing the terrace walls (in a good way) racing to beat the budding wisteria and…wait for it…the drooping flowerheads of our famous Laburnum Arch are just poised to burst. Fingers crossed for a little more sunshine in the next fortnight.


Tulipa ‘Monte Flame’ and Clematis ‘Frances Rivis’ on The Terraces

In the Shrub Borders swathes of bluebells are taking over from the daffodils sweeping grassy glades and a variety of trees and shrubs are flowering. Look out Amelanchier lamarckii, Prunus ‘Shirotae’, Chaenomeles japonica, Fothergilla monticola, Weigela middendorffiana and Exochorda x macrantha. Your nose will lead you to the gloriously scented Osmanthus delaviyi and Viburnum judii.


Cerise Primula pulverulenta amongst greenery the Dell

In The Dell ferns are opening and herbaceous plants are suddenly providing a deep, lush pile. Dotting through this carpet are clumps of fluffy white Maianthemum racemosum and nodding heads of Leucojum aestivum, while fritillaries, primulas native and exotic, and sapphire blue pulmonaria, omphalodes and brunnera break through the green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet’s not forget the much-maligned but impressively sculptural skunk cabbage, Lysichiton americanus (seen left), which line the river banks underneath giant conifers. Love them or hate them they look so right here in the other-wordly space of The Dell.

As the garden hots up so does the pace of work. This week gardeners have been making pea stick frames to support growing herbaceous plants, mulching and feeding and furiously weeding beds while our arborists have been doing maintenance on trees.

But even the simple task of weeding takes on new meaning at Bodnant Garden, with gardeners getting into ponds and streams to clear debris and overgrowth and abseiling down cliffs to beautify steep banks. There’s never a dull moment, but as you can see it’s worth it!


For more pictures of what’s looking good at the moment see the album Now Showing on our Facebook page where you can also see work going on around the garden.

Looking Good in the Garden (April)


The first of the magnolias, Magnolia stellata

Better late than never…and at long last spring is here. It may be a month or so late but finally the daffodils are out, magnolias, cherries and rhododendrons are cautiously unfurling and herbaceous plants are beginning to make a dash for the warmth and light.

What a long, cold winter it’s been! There has inevitably been some frost damage around the garden (a few casualties of the recent gales too…not to mention floods which ushered in the season back in November) but you can’t keep Mother Nature down – nor the spirit of gardeners. Together we have hopefully weathered the worst and the garden is springing back to life.


Rhododendron ‘Snowy River’ and Camellia ‘Charles Puddle’

On The Terraces all eyes are on the first of the magnolias; the ivory Magnolia stellata and an early pink Magnolia campbellii close to the Laburnum Arch, a towering tree whose silky petals look beautiful against a blue spring sky.

Camellias have been illuminating the garden for some weeks now and are still putting on a fine show throughout – but look out for delicate pink and perfectly formed Camellia ‘Charles Puddle’ near the Round Garden. Rhododendrons are now beginning to gather speed – among them the vibrant purple Rh ‘Snowy River’, Rh ‘Budget Farthing’ cascading with cerise blooms, willowy pastel Rh. sinense, the scarlet of Rh ‘Ethel’, a Bodnant hybrid, and electric blue Rh ‘Bluebird’.


In the Shrub Borders we have daffs, daffs and more daffs…as far as the eye can see throughout the grassy Glades and peppering beds. Other seasonal sights to enjoy include golden yellow Corylopsis and Forsythia, flowering cherries such as the rosy pink Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ and amber Berberis lologenis.


Skunk cabbage, drumstick primulas and dwarf daffodils in the Dell

In The Dell herbaceous plants are now taking hold. The landscape is bursting with cyclamen, miniature daffodils, wood anemones, bright blue clumps of omphalodes and pulmonaria and, here and there, surprise dashes of the lilac drumstick primula, P.denticulata.
The unmistakable scent of skunk cabbage has returned too! Love it or loathe Lysichiton americanus there’s no doubt these yellow caped invaders are sculptural, creating impressive swathes along river banks.

More pictures of these highlights can be seen on our Facebook page at or for other details see our website

By gardener Fran Llewellyn