Join us for a Great Orme walkies

Attention all our #WagWednesday dog walkers – join us for a fun day on the Great Orme in Llandudno, to celebrate the summer opening of footpaths at our neighbouring National Trust Parc Farm…

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Visitors to Paws in the Parc on Saturday, June 16, can enjoy dog shows and demonstrations, and get a chance to look around and learn about the conservation work being done at this special farm.

Our NT Wales ranger Doug Don (seen above with his own faithful hound Flynn) says: “We had 200 visitors last year for our first dog fun day and everyone had a great time. This year it’s going to be bigger and better – a fun day for all the family and four-legged friends.”

The Great Orme is one of Britain’s top five botanical sites. The limestone headland is home to rare species of plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else on earth, and their future requires a more traditional way of farming.

Tenant farmer Dan Jones (seen below with his family) manages Parc Farm for National Trust Wales where he close shepherds his flock – provided by the conservation charity Plantlife – on the rugged grassland, working alongside Trust rangers and volunteers to manage and maintain the landscape and welcome visitors.

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Last year the team created two new footpaths across the farm, which open from June to December (closed in the winter during lambing and while birds are nesting).

Ranger Doug says: “Last year we opened two footpaths giving access to an area which has been closed to the public for generations. It gives people the chance to see the farming going on, spot the Chough in the fields near the summit and the unique wildflowers. Hopefully it will help people understand what we’re doing here and why the sheep are so important for the conservation of the Great Orme.”

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Plants such as Hoary Rockrose thrive on the Orme (Image:Plantlife)

Paws at the Parc is being supported by Conwy County Borough Council, Plantlife, Valley Training and Pont. Running from 11am to 3pm, there will be a fun dog show, obedience demonstrations, a sheep shearing demo by farmer Dan and guided walk by ranger Doug, information stalls by local groups and children’s craft activities.

There is limited parking at the Orme summit car park, also public transport available from the town via the Great Orme Tramway and the cable car (which all accept dogs). Follow the signposts for the event from the summit car park. Owners are asked to keep their dogs on short leads within the farm walls, and under close control elsewhere around the headland where there are livestock.

If anyone would like to know more about our work on the Great Orme contact our National Trust office on 01492 650460 or check out @ParcFarmNT on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/ParcFarmNT

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GQT team bring a blast of spring to Bodnant Garden

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After a long, bone-chilling winter (cold enough to turn green-fingers blue) a visit from BBC Gardeners’ Question Time to Bodnant this week was just what we all needed to put a spring in our steps.

First aired in 1947, the popular Radio 4 show is a regular part the week for keen gardeners up and down the land, so for all us North Wales enthusiasts (ok, self-confessed ‘geeks’) it was a real thrill to host it at our National Trust beauty spot in the Conwy Valley.

5Our head gardener John Rippin was able to give the well-known horticulturists Bob Flowerdew, Mathew Biggs, Pippa Greenwood and Eric Robson a little pre-show tour of the garden. Mother Nature obligingly set the scene – during the late afternoon the chill wind dropped, clouds parted, even the sun showed itself and (I kid you not) bird song filled the frosty air.

Our guests seemed blown away with the charm of our February garden – waxing lyrical about the range of plants, the scents and those spectacular snow-capped views – and especially by our Winter Garden (which received glowing praise for being so well maintained…well done gardeners!) They were also mightily impressed at the bare beauty of the Laburnum Arch and how much skill went into pruning the 55-metre pergola walkway.

4Invigorated (if a little breathless…but the walk to the Dell viewpoint was declared well worth it) our guests then returned to a full house at the Pavilion tearoom where they expertly rattled their way through audience questions, with trademark warmth and humour, providing their thoughts on topics from whether to prune an overgrown magnolia (NO!), to how gardening can tend the troubled soul.

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It was fascinating to get a peep into how the show is made; many of us were impressed at how little editing was needed, and how smoothly the recording flowed. #BBCGQT is clearly a well-oiled machine; and a super-friendly one at that, so thank you to the whole team, it was a delight to have you all at Bodnant Garden.

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We must give a shout-out to our staff and volunteers who hosted the event too, especially Ailsa and the catering team for the refreshments – and a special mention to volunteer David (right) who hot-footed it back from holiday to assist colleague Linda as door steward!

Of course, a big thank you goes to our keen, knowledgable and cheery audience –  all you fellow gardening ‘geeks’ who came along, submitted questions and made it such an enjoyable occasion. We could have filled a venue twice the size but for those who weren’t able to come, our edition of BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time is scheduled to be broadcast on Friday, February 26th and repeated on Sunday (watch this space for any updates.) May it fill you all with the joys of spring!

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GQT heaven: Anna, our visiting horticultural student from Germany, with Bodnant gardeners Christina and Fiona; below, a chuffed head gardener John gets a treasured book signed by Bob Flowerdew.

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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

 

 

 

A warm Christmas welcome at Bodnant Garden

However you like to celebrate Christmas there’s something for all at Bodnant Garden; whether you’re after peace and tranquility, or food, fun and festivity, you’ll find it in our 80 acres. It all starts with a warm welcome from our Visitor Centre staff, who’re putting on their best Christmas pullies just for you…

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Enjoy peaceful walks in a frost-sparkling landscape, bring the children to meet Santa and the elves, discover unique gifts at the shops and craft units and warm up with seasonal food – be that marshmallows over a brazier or a full Christmas lunch.

Bodnant Garden - Winter Garden in FebruaryThe star on our tree is the Winter Garden. This feature was opened five years ago after a major garden renovation and is now bursting with colour, texture and scent. As other gardens are going to sleep the Winter Garden springs into life; flowers, foliage and bark creating a real winter pick-me-up for the senses. A cold weather forecast is an added bonus – it looks even more beautiful with a dusting of frost and snow.

See our website for the Winter Garden Trail, which guides you around highlights of the this area and formal East Garden. It’s a short, level, accessible trail, which will suit all the family – perfect for a quick escape from the high street hurly-burly.

Take your ease over our Christmas menu in the tearooms, or combine lunch and a gardener guided walk on one of our special events. If you drop in at the Pavilion you can leave a memento of your hopes and dreams for for 2018 on our special Wish Tree…and pause to read some of the moving, and funny, wishes left by others.

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Kids will love the popular Elves’ Workshop. Drop in at the Old Mill in the Dell and make Christmas crafts with our band of Bodnant elves, followed by toasted marshmallows by the roaring brazier outside. There’s hot food in our special marquee in The Dell at weekends too, where children can have a go at decorating Christmas cookies.

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The National Trust Gift shop and our neighbours at Bodnant Garden Centre offer a huge range of Christmas ideas, from cards, decorations and gifts to plants, as well as Christmas trees and wreaths (you might even bump into Santa.) 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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And of course there’s a big beautiful garden to explore; you can bring your dogs every day from November until the end of March too.

We’re open all year-round (apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). We hope you’ll join us – every visit helps us look after Bodnant Garden #ForeverForEveryone, so your support will certainly make our Christmas!

  • Elves’ Workshops: November 25/26, December 2/3, December 8/9 and December 16/17 from 11am – 2.30pm (£3 drop-in event, booking not required)
  • Santa’s Grotto: Pop along to our neighbours at Bodnant Garden Centre and see Father Christmas, on December 2/3, December 9/10, December 16/17 and 23rd from 11am – 2pm (£3 donation per child, proceeds to charity)
  • Winter walk and tea: Wednesday, December 6 from 11am, a guided walk with a gardener followed by afternoon tea in the Pavilion (£19.95 per person, call to book)
  • Birds of Bodnant Walk: Friday, December 8, 11am (free, please book)
  • Winter walk and lunch: Wednesday, December 13, a guided walk with the head gardener at 11am followed by a two course Christmas lunch in the Pavilion (£25.95pp, call to book)
  • Festive dessert tasting evening: Friday, December 15, sample puddings created by our chef in the Pavilion (£24.95 pp, call to book)

All details on our website www.nationaltrust.orh.uk/bodnant-garden

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Get rooting for Bodnant Garden’s Welsh Champion Tree

This autumn, as dazzling leaf colour lights up Bodnant Garden’s 80 acres, we’re inviting everyone to go wild about trees in a month-long festival… and to kick off the celebrations we’re asking you to get rooting for one of our special residents.

Coast redwood by Rory FrancisOur Coast Redwood in The Dell is in the Wales finals for the Woodland Trust Tree of the Year 2017 competition. This 130-year-old native American lady (or is it an old man?) soars over the riverside where she’s made herself perfectly at home – a living symbol of the garden’s rich and amazingly beautiful tree collection.

We’ll be celebrating her and our other trees during Treefest from October 13 to November 10, with a host of woodland activities.

We love our trees here at Bodnant Garden. The collection goes back to the Georgian era when the first beech, oak, sycamore and chestnut were planted. Successive generations of the garden’s owners planted American conifers and Asian broad-leaved trees and today Bodnant is home to 42 UK Champion Trees – the biggest, rarest and best of their kind – plus 130 Welsh Champs too.

Giant Redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) in The Dell at Bodnant Garden in August, Conwy, Wales

The garden’s Victorian ‘founding father’ Henry Pochin planted the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in 1887. At 51-metres she’s now a Wales Champion Tree (rated second tallest in the UK at the last Tree Register survey in 2016 and as she’s still growing, who knows how far she’ll go?)

It was Mr Pochin who developed the pinetum in the valley garden, planting American and oriental conifers along the banks of the River Hiraethlyn. Some of these were exotic to British gardens, newly discovered by 19th century plant hunters. In Bodnant’s waterside dells these new trees thrived, sheltered against the elements were they have grown taller and faster than in other areas of the garden.

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Head Gardener John Rippin says: “For me the most dramatic tree at Bodnant is the champion Sequoia sempervirens which is the tallest of its kind in Wales. It’s not just about the immense size (which is pretty awesome) but also the potential this tree has to carry on growing.

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“The average age of redwoods in the wild is 600 years but some are believed to be over 2,000 years old. Conwy Valley has ideal growing conditions for them and I would love to think Bodnant’s giants will be going strong in 200 years, possibly reaching the magical 100 metre mark, providing future visitors with an even more awesome sight and helping preserve one of the world’s most incredible trees.”

There are some amazing stories behind our trees; the rare and exotic ones discovered by intrepid plant hunters in centuries past, and the native ones which are home to so much wildlife today. Come and discover more during Treeefest… and in the meantime, if you feel inspired to cast a vote for our Coast Redwood, you can do it here until October 8:  www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/tree-of-the-year/wales Our Sweet Chestnut on the Top Lawn was a runner-up in the competition last year and featured on a Channel 4 documentary – let’s see if we can go all the way!

You can see the full programme of events for Treefest on our website at Treefest Bodnant Garden 2017

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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

 

Walkies at Bodnant Garden just got better

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Big ones and small ones, fluffy ones and sleek ones…we’ve grown accustomed to seeing dogs of all shapes and sizes in the garden over the summer on #WagWednesday evenings, and we’ve been loving your pictures too. The season has come to an end, but it’s not long until November dog days begin again. And we’ve got some news to get those tails wagging…next year we’re extending our welcome to dog walkers throughout the year.

From 2018 dogs will be welcome all day, every day in autumn and winter (from beginning of October to the end of March) and on #WagWednesday evenings in spring and summer (from beginning of April to end of September.) So apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (when the garden is closed) there will be an opportunity to bring your dog to Bodnant every week of the year.

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Earl and Poppy both enjoying the hydrangeas – proving to be a popular posing spot!

We know many dog owners love bringing their best friends and furry family members with them when they visit – in some cases, not being able to bring the pooch prevents people being able to visit. We do also appreciate that other visitors are not so comfortable around canines, or just prefer to enjoy the garden dog-free, frankly.  So we’ve tried our best to develop a programme that will allow all of our visitors the time and space they’d like in Bodnant Garden.

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Bobby just chilling on the Top Lawn

We first trialled dog entry in winter 2013 and have been tweaking the programme since, thanks to your feedback.  Up to now we’ve had a March/April and September/October break in the programme – a ‘breathing space’ to review the impact of dogs on the garden and on visitors – and are now filling in the blanks. We’ll keep reviewing how it goes, so if you have any comments or suggestions keep letting us know.

As always we just have a few simple asks of our dog walkers – please use a short lead (not extendable ones) stick to the gravel and grass paths, and of course clean up after your dog (bags are provided in reception.) And keep sending those fabulous photos!

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Freddy here (above) and Bailey (top picture) have become #WagWednesday regulars…and familiar faces on social media too. Thanks everyone for sharing your pictures 🙂

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

 

 

Magical musical finale to summer at Bodnant Garden

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If we had rafters at Bodnant Garden, they would’ve been well and truly raised last week by the musicians of Denbighshire Music Co-operative, who gave us a concert finale to our summer events.

These talented youngsters took visitors on a musical tour of the world, from Spain to India and all stops in between – via brass band to stadium rock – and the bhangra-style dance on the Canal Terrace is something we won’t forget for a long time to come. It brought down the curtain on a summer of family activities at the garden, in joyous style.

Our thanks to everyone at Denbighshire Music Co-operative. This group is a not-for-profit organisation, run by the teachers for the benefit providing tuition for pupils in the area. For more information see their website: http://www.denbighshiremusic.com

Perhaps these images, by our young volunteer photographer Gethin Mullock-Jones, will inspire you to get music-making (or even volunteering for Bodnant Garden!)

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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

 

A sweet treat from Bodnant Garden

 

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As well as being the crème de la crème of the horticultural world, Bodnant Garden is branching out in a new culinary direction and opening our tearoom for seasonal evening dining experiences.

The first is a must for pudding lovers – a Dessert Tasting Evening on Friday, September 1, when diners can enjoy supper followed by six delicious sweets.

Assistant catering manager Pete Thomas (below), who has cooked up the idea, says: “This is an evening of pure indulgence for anyone with a sweet tooth – and a little taster of our new seasonal programme of food events to follow.”

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Around 250,000 people visit the garden each year and for many of them the cooked breakfasts, morning coffees, hot lunches and afternoon teas served at our tearooms are as big a part of their day out as the beautiful floral displays.

As well as welcoming visitors into the Pavilion and Magnolia tearooms 362 days a year, catering staff serve al-fresco refreshments at kiosks in the outer reaches of the site. This year staff have even been pedalling an ice cream bicycle around the formal lawns, in their mission to keep visitors fed and watered.

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Our catering team, tireless in their efforts to bring refreshment to visitors…

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bodnant-garden-april-16-222.jpgSpecial evening dining at the Pavilion tearoom will be yet another new venture for the garden’s dynamic catering team. Catering manager Ailsa Morris (right) says: “It’s been a great year for my team. Our next exciting challenge is the launch of seasonal dining evenings – and hopefully the pudding tasting is the perfect way to whet people’s appetites.”

A light supper will be served from 7.30pm (a choice of Roast Pepper, Tomato and Cheese Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust or Warm Chicken Salad with a Honey & Mustard Dressing) followed by six surprise desserts. There will be a vote for the favourite pud, which will then get pride of place on the garden’s autumn menu, and as the icing on the cake diners will also get the chance to win Christmas dinner for four people at The Pavilion.

The cost will be: £24.95 per head and booking is essential as places are limited. Contact Ailsa Morris or Pete Thomas on 01492 651924 to reserve your place.

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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