Fanfare for the Far End

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The Far End is now officially yours folks – open to the public after 140 years. After all the hard work, worry and a decidedly dodgy weather forecast we had a grand opening day. Hearts sank in the morning when we woke up to gale force winds and driving rain…but somehow, miraculously, as 10am drew nearer the wind abated, the rain dried up, the sun broke through the clouds and delivered a perfect blue sky day (well, at least until late afternoon, for the hours that mattered!)

Perhaps the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin was smiling down on us, but it was a fitting tribute to the hours, months, years of work by gardeners and volunteers which has gone in to renovating this area ready for this day.

Visitors assembled by the new bridge at 12 noon where Michael McLaren from the donor family spoke movingly about the history of the area, and how delighted his father and grandfather would be at people now being able to enjoy it. Our guest, TV gardener Christine Walkden, then gave her own passionate few words about the Bodnant Garden she knows and loves, and cut the ribbon with garden shears – succeeding after three attempts (yes, they were sharp…and we rehearsed…but hey, best laid plans.)

There was even cake. Alex, one of the Dell team of gardeners who has worked so hard on The Far End, and who came in on her birthday for the opening, was surprised by a truly giant sponge, which was shared out among the visitors. That left visitors to enjoy the rest of the afternoon exploring this wonderful new area – here’s a taste:

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Before opening, our volunteers ready for duty

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Ducks enjoying the lake to themselves for the last time!

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The first people to arrive at The Far End were Sandra and Margaret Qualters. They had come from Ashton-under-Lyne for the opening and said they had been looking forward to it for months. Behind them came a steady stream of visitors.

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Michael McLaren and Christine Walkden performing the opening

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Third time lucky for the ribbon, and Alex with her birthday cake

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Christine Walkden with Michael and Caroline McLaren

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Coracle making, and sailing (head gardener John demonstrating!)

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Lunch around the brazier, Christine with volunteers Sally and Phyllis

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Music for all tastes! A harpist and Morris Dancers 

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New head gardener John and his family enjoying the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last word goes to visitors Dorothy and Brian Thompson, from Rhos on Sea, regulars to Bodnant who said it was absolutely thrilling to be able to enjoy this magical new area of garden. Thanks to them and everyone who came on Saturday – staff, volunteers, visitors, guests and performers – for making this historic day such an occasion.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Easter treats at Bodnant Garden

The daffodils are out, the blossom is bursting…and we’re looking forward to a fabulous, floral Easter at Bodnant Garden.

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Daffodils in The Old Park

Throughout April visitors can enjoy swathes of daffodils in the meadows – a sight not to be missed. The result of around a century of planting by generations of gardeners, they now stretch as far as the eye can see across acres of the Old Park, Chapel Park and Glades, and throughout the whole garden.

Magnolias

Magnificent magnolias

You can marvel at the garden’s National Collection of magnolias, some more than 100 years old, and the emerging array of rhododendrons for which Bodnant Garden is famous. Also coming into flower are scented viburnums and cherry blossom trees, while tulips and herbaceous plants are filling out beds and borders with colour.

There’s an extra treat for visitors this year too, who can be among the first to explore a new area of the garden – the Far End, ten acres of tranquil riverside haven which is opening on March 28, for the first time in the Bodnant’s 140-year history. Until now visitors have not been able to walk further than the famous Waterfall Bridge in The Dell but soon they can discover what lies beyond…waterside walks, a skating pond, boathouse and arboretum of Champion Trees.

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The Far End

Horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden is performing the official opening at a special day of celebration on Saturday, March 28, at 12 noon. There will also be harp music, Morris Dancing, coracle making and guided walks for visitors to enjoy on the opening day.

There will be a new refreshment kiosk in the Far End serving hot and cold snacks, plus seating and toilet facilities – you’ll be able to picnic in the new area too. Special mini-buses will be running to take people from the garden’s main car park to the Far End during Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend.

Residents of the neighbouring village of Eglwysbach are being invited to the garden free for the opening day – free entry tickets are available from the village shop.

An Easter Egg Trail day at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire.

The following weekend at Bodnant Garden it’s all about the chocolate! There will be a Cadbury Easter Egg Trail on Sunday and Monday (April  5 and 6) from 10am-3pm (£2 per child, no booking needed) plus art activities for youngsters in The Old Mill in The Dell.

On March 31, there’s a rare opportunity to look inside the Poem mausoleum, which is open on the last Tuesday of each month, starting this month.

The days are lengthening and lightening, the birds are singing, there are lovely spring displays and a whole new section of the garden open to the public so put Bodnant Garden on your list of things to do this Easter.

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Spring is in the air…and in the garden

Spring is definitely in the air; mornings and evenings are lighter, birds are singing, snowdrops are giving way to daffodils and even the odd tulip; the first magnolia has burst it’s buds  – the grand old Magnolia campbellii on the Croquet Terrace – and gardeners were even spotted wearing t-shirts during one fine, sunny day this week.

Here’s a look at some of the colourful sights and scents to be enjoyed around the garden right now:

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Rhododendron racemosum, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Pink Spotted Lady’

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Daphne bholua, Narcissus ‘Peeping Tom’, Iris reticulata ‘Alida’

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Rhododendron ‘Portia’, Helleborus x hybridus (white)

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Helleborus x hybridus ‘Ashwood Strain’ and Euphorbia characias

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Magnolia campbellii and Tulipa ‘Show Winner’

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Narcissus cyclamineus and Pulmonaria ‘Lewis Palmer’

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Cyclamen coum and Eranthis hyemanis ‘Guinea Gold’

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Scilla mischtschenkoana and Rhododendron ‘Ostara’

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Pastel splashes of Rhododendron praecox all around the garden

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

 

 

 

Spring puts on its best bonnet this Easter

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  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.

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Pulsatilla halleri subsp. slavica and Tulipa ‘Maytime

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

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Kerria japonica and Osmanthus delavayi

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Erithronium ‘Revolutum,’ and Amelanchier lamarckii

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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 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

 

Let’s hear it for rhododendrons!

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

  To many people rhododendrons are a common sight in our parks and gardens, as British as cream tea on a summer’s day. But think again – many of our beloved rhodies are in fact Asian, just like that traditional cuppa!

  Bodnant Garden is famous for its rhododendron collection and we’re holding a month-long festival to celebrate the foreign plant which has found such a place in the hearts of British gardeners.  From April 17 to May 22 there will be walks, talks and workshops.

  The plants you see at Bodnant today have come a long way from their native habitats and have a fascinating story to tell about the history of British gardening. Many were brought back by Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters who braved hostile terrain, disease and war in their pursuit of this ‘new’ shrub.

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Rhododendron ririei, a species rhododendron grown in Bodnant Garden from seed collected by plant hunter Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson in the early 1900s. It flowers early, in February and March.

  Rhododendrons are native to Asia, America and Australia but most are found in the Himalayas. Britain went rhododendron mad in the late 1800s when they were first brought back from China by intrepid plant hunters and soon they began to fill our stately homes, public parks and back gardens. Bodnant Garden’s owner in the early 1900s, Henry McLaren, was an avid plantsman who sponsored these botanical expeditions. He was originally advised not to plant rhododendrons because it was thought they were too exotic but it turned out they were well suited to the Snowdonian landscape!

   Rh augustinii Rhododendron 'Narcissiflorum' Rh stenopetalum 'Linearfolium'

Rhododendrons in all colours, shapes and sizes…Rh. albrechtii, ‘Rh. ‘Narcissiflorum’ and Rh. stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’

Rh.Varna Rh. 'Janet' Rh. May Day

Rh. ‘Varna’, Rh.’Janet’ and Rh.’May Day’

  He bought a collection from famous plant hunter Ernest Wilson in 1908 which forms the basis for the thousands in the garden today. In 1917 he employed George Forrest to bring back many more; McLaren and his head gardener Frederick Puddle began breeding Forrest’s rhododendrons to create more than 350 hybrids, called the Bodnant Bloody Reds for their rare colour.

  Today Bodnant Garden has one of the finest collections of species and hybrid rhododendrons in Britain which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the garden each year.  The spring display is just incredible – all colours of the rainbow, some as big as trees and some as small as heathers, and ones suited to all terrain. So come along and learn more about this surprising and ‘exotic’ plant – or just enjoy the show.

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Bodnant Garden property administrator Rose James among the rhododendrons

Rhododendron Festival (no charge but booking required)

April 17: A History of Bodnant Rhododendron Hybrids, guided walk, 2-3pm

April 24: Photographing Rhododendrons, workshop by award-winning local photographer Pierino Algieri, 10am-12pm and 2-4pm.

May 1: Choosing Rhododendrons for your garden, masterclass at 2pm.

May 8: Propagating Rhododendrons, workshop with Bodnant Garden Centre’s propagator, 10am- 12pm

May 15: The Plant Hunter’s Legacy at Bodnant, guided walk, 2-3pm with expert Ted Brabin.

May 22: Rhododendron and Garden Art, workshop with artist Hilary Leigh on sketching and painting, 10am-12.30pm

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

 

Celebrate Easter at Bodnant Garden

  An Easter Egg Trail day at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire.

   Spring has come early – the daffodils are out, the blossom is bursting and we’re looking forward to an egg-stra special Easter at Bodnant Garden (sorry).

  After a mild winter we’re enjoying a dazzling spring floral display and  preparing to welcome visitors with a host of holiday activities – including popular Easter egg hunts for children.

  It’s a bit different to this time last year, when North Wales was under a deluge of late snow after suffering a long, cold, wet winter. Our neighbours at National Trust Chirk and Erddig had to draft in sledges for their Easter egg hunts! This time round we’ve had a mild winter and the garden has exploded with spring colour. The show of camellias, magnolias, cherry blossom, our famous rhododendrons and swathes of daffodils is stunning.

  Of course it’s not quite Easter yet, but so far so good and we’ve got  a fun-packed programme of events to offer visitors…so fingers crossed for the weather.

   There is a full programme of activities for families during the two-week Easter holiday period. We’re also launching a month-long Rhododendron Festival, which offers walks, talks and workshops for adults celebrating the garden’s famous plant collection.

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Whether hunting for plants, bugs or chocolate eggs, families can enjoy Easter trails at Bodnant Garden

Easter events at Bodnant Garden:

Sat 12 – Sun 27 April (every day from 10am-4pm): Plant It, Grow It, Eat It – Visitors can drop in and plant a pumpkin seed in a pot to take home and grow on. No extra charge. No Booking Required.

Tuesday 15 and 22 April: Pond Dipping (12-3pm): Families can have a go at ‘dipping’ in the Lily Pond using nets and jars to examine water wildlife (before returning it safely!) No extra charge. No Booking Required.

Sun 20 and Mon 21 April (10am – 4pm): Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trail – Children do an ‘eggsplorer’ trail around the garden, collecting stamps in their passport to bag a chocolate egg. Cost £2 per child. No Booking Required. There will also be facepainting in the Cadbury gazebo and an Easter Bonnet Competition with judging and prize giving at 3pm on the Monday.

Thurs 17 April: Launch of Rhododendron Festival with a walk and talk from our expert taxonomist on A History of Bodnant Rhododendron Hybrids, 2-3pm. No Extra Charge. No Booking Required.

Thursday 24 April: Photographing Rhododendrons – a workshop delivered by award-winning local photographer Pierino Algieri as part of our ‘I Love Bodnant Garden’ photography competition. Booking required for time slots 10am-12pm and 2-4pm. No Extra Charge

Friday 25 April: Bat Walk – Discover the bats of Bodnant with expert Cathy Wuster of Gwynedd Bat Group, 8-10pm. Booking Required. No Extra Charge.

Saturdays April 12, 19 and 26: Story telling in the Pin Mill every Saturday at 2.30pm. No extra charge. No Booking Required.

 Easter events, including the Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trail, will be going on at National Trust properties across Wales. For full details contact Bodnant Garden on 01492 650460, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or the NT Wales website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/local-to-you/wales

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