Getting closer to nature

kidsOur half term activities for children have been a massive success. Bodnant Garden’s new events and engagement officer Charlie Stretton has been run off her feet – in a good way – organising a packed week of activities and it certainly paid off, judging from the comments from families.

It’s part of our commitment to the National Trust’s project ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾‘, which is aimed at encouraging kids to get mucky, discover their wild side and get closer to nature.

We’ve had pond dipping, pooh sticks and den making at The Far End, fairy house building in the Yew Dell, barefoot walking in the Old Park meadow, mud pie making in the Shrub Borders as well as seed sowing and wild art sessions. Here’s a snapshot of the week as sent in by our visitors – thanks to everyone who took part, gave us their feedback and sent in some great pictures:

Simon HR and V Plum

Barefoot Walking in The Old Park and den building at The Far End

Nessa McPhee

Pentax Digital Camera

Building fairy houses in the Yew Dell and tip-toeing through bluebells


Caroline Gravett

Events officer Charlie with one of our mud pie makers


Jumping for joy…and just chilling in the old Chestnut tree

Joanne Stanhope

And just sharing quality time with the family

Clodagh Murphy

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


50 Things to do (and some) at Bodnant Garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIs Half Term terror rising among parents out there? Never fear, we have plenty for families to do here at Bodnant Garden over the school holiday. We’ve got a great week of activities, with something on every day. It’s part of our commitment to the National Trust’s project ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾‘, which is aimed at encouraging kids to get mucky, discover their wild side and get closer to nature.

Here’s what’s happening at Bodnant Garden:

Saturday to Wednesday: Plant it, Grow it, Eat it – At the Old Mill (outdoors if the weather is fine, inside if wet) from 11am-3pm. Kids can pick a pot, fill it with compost, put a bean or pea in it, tiny bit of water, put in a brown bag and take home.

Tuesday: Pond dipping at the Far End Skating Pond, from 12 to 3pm.

Thursday: Wild Art Fairy Houses – In the Yew Dell, by the tree stump tables, from 12 noon to 3pm. Children can have fun building a little “fairy house” from natural materials they find around the garden.

Thursday to Sunday: Mud Pie Making – At the Winter Garden entrance to the Old Park, 11am to 3pm. There will be compost, buckets, water, mud, paper plates and petals for children make their mud pies, rinse their hands in a bucket of water (if they want to wash them!) and leave their pie in a wheelbarrow to be composted later.


In addition to these events everyone is welcome to have a go at Barefoot Walking through the Old Park, Pooh Sticks at The Old Mill and the Yew Dell, and Den Building at the Far End near the refreshment kiosk, every day from Saturday May 24th to Sunday May 31st. What’s more there are also free Fifty Things scrapbooks on offer at reception – children can come back to collect a sticker or stamp when they have done their activity.

For the whole family, we’ve also got some special events on over the Bank Holiday weekend and Half Term week. There’s music in the Pin Mill on Sunday May 24th, with the Conwy Clarinet Trio playing from 2pm, an open day at The Poem mausoleum on Tuesday May 26th, and don’t forget dogs are welcome every Wednesday evening through the summer too, at our late night openings from 5-8pm.

And if you time your visit right you may see the famous Laburnum Arch in bloom – the spectacle is expected to flower from end of May and it’s something young and old will never forget.

David Ackers, Birkenhead

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

Plant a snowdrop for posterity


Our Old Park meadow is carpeted with snowdrops right now and with a little help from visitors there will soon be 15,000 more. From February 14 to 22 we’re inviting people to join gardeners and volunteers in a mass planting for posterity.

The Old Park is a rolling open meadow landscaped with native oak and beech trees, thought to be the oldest part of the original garden dating back to the Georgian era. Only opened to the public in 2013, it is now being managed as a wildlife meadow – the display of snowdrops are followed by swathes of daffodils in the spring and wildflowers in the summer.


Gardeners and volunteers have been planting snowdrops in the meadow for the last five years to ensure a bigger and better display in future.

This time of year it is traditional to plant snowdrops ‘in the green’ (at the end of flowering but when the leaves are still green). Visitors can drop by through the week and lend a hand at any time from 11am to 1pm. All plants and tools are provided, just bring are sturdy clothes and footwear.


All are welcome to drop by and join in with the planting, whether for five minutes or an hour – the more the merrier! It’s also a chance to have a look around our Winter Garden, now in its third year and positively blooming. In fact the whole garden is showing signs of spring and it’s a wonderful time to visit.

There are also events for families in the garden during half term, with a craft workshop in The Old Mill on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, February 16-18, 11am to 1pm. Don’t forget you can bring dogs too on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until the end of February.

No booking is required and there is no extra charge for the snowdrop planting or craft workshop (normal garden admission prices apply), but for information contact Bodnant Garden on 01492 650460.

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

Plant a snowdrop for posterity


  There are snowdrops as far as the eye can see at Bodnant Garden and with a little help from visitors there will soon be 20,000 more.

  Our Old Park meadow is carpeted with Galanthus nivalis right now and we’ll be planting more from February 22 to March 2, when visitors can drop by and lend a hand from 11am to 1pm.

  The Old Park is thought to be the oldest part of the original garden dating back to the Georgian era. It was landscaped in the naturalistic style of the day, planted with native trees and with a ha-ha ditch to keep livestock away from the main house. Today it’s a rolling meadow filled with snowdrops in winter, daffodils in spring, wild flowers and grasses in summer and in autumn sheep graze under the dazzling leaf colour of those now stately old oak and beech trees.

Copy of photo comp Marguerite Wilde

Picture by Marguerite Wilde

  We’ve been planting snowdrops in the Old Park  for the last five years to ensure a bigger and better display in the future and we’d love visitors to come and help – the more the merrier. It’s something all the family can enjoy doing, and come back and enjoy again next year, as one of our Twitter followers Tu Hwnt i’r Bont tearoom commented recently: “Lovely mooch around Bodnant Garden in the sunshine today. Admiring the snowdrops five-year-old old son helped to plant.”

  Galanthus nivalis is native to Europe. It’s name comes from the Greek gala (meaning milk) and anthos (flower). It was first described and named by the botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1735, who also added the word nivalis meaning ‘of the snow’. It naturalises and spreads readily and is now a common sight in woodlands and back gardens…a welcome first sign of coming spring. And the best time to plant them is now when they are in flower, or ‘in the green’.

   As well as common snowdrops in the Old Park we’ve got more unusual species for you to admire in our Winter Garden. It’s also a great opportunity to take part in our 2014 Photography Competition ‘I Love Bodnant Garden’. We’re asking people to tell us why the garden means so much to them, in pictures. The winning shots will be made into a 2015 Bodnant Garden calendar.

  No booking is required for the snowdrop planting and all plants and equipment are provided, but for information contact Bodnant Garden on 01492 650460. For details of our photography competition see our website or see the competition page here on our blog.


Volunteers snowdrop planting in the Old Park

Warm welcome for all the family at Half Term

 Children collecting conkers in the garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire, in autumn.It’s a perennial problem…what to do with the kids at autumn Half Term? Well, we’ve got lots to keep the whole family inspired (even the four-legged members.)

  For those who simply want to come and appreciate the garden, autumn colour is providing a spectacular display – late blooming flowers are accompanied now by stunning foliage, berries and fruit and our garden’s mountain backdrop provides some breathtaking panoramas.

  But for that little extra family fun, we’re running children’s events for two weeks from Saturday, October 19, to Sunday, November 3.

  Kids can hunt for dragons, goblins and fairies hidden around the garden on our Mystical Creatures Trail every day. There will also be Autumn Crafts running weekdays under gazebo in The Dell from 11am to 1pm and not forgetting story telling in the Pin Mill every Saturday from 2pm to 2.30pm. All these events are free.


Inside The Poem

  On Tuesday, October 29, the Poem mausoleum is open; it’s a rare chance to go inside and see the impressive interior with its marble columns, family busts, stained glass windows and star-covered ceiling, from 10am to 4pm (again, no extra charge.)

  On Thursday, October 31, explore the garden by torchlight with scary stories ending in marshmallows around the fire in The Dell, from 6pm-8pm. This costs £6 for adults and £2 for children. Also  on the Halloween theme, from Tuesday, October 29, to Thursday, October 31, there will be pumpkin carving, puzzles and story telling in Bodnant Garden Centre, from 10am to 5pm, costing £2.50. 


   The highlight of the holiday will be the launch of our new Dogs Welcome season on November 1 and 2. There will be displays from dog rescue and agility groups, dog competitions and the Dogs Trust will be at the garden offering free microchipping on both days. From now on visitors will be able to bring their dogs to the garden every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from Novemer to the end of February. More on the launch event to follow so watch this space…

   All Half Term there will be special menus at the Pavilion tearoom and also al fresco refreshments in The Dell – warm your hands with hot drinks and soup by a brazier, perfect for that autumn walk.

Chapel Park in all its autumn glory low res

See our website or Facebook page for more about Bodnant Garden.

Garden fun for half-pints this Half Term

Child in the Kitchen Garden at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset.

  Remember the things you loved doing as a child? They probably included climbing trees, making mud pies, splashing in puddles and building dens (whether for playing house or playing army camp…and there’s no gender reference implied there). I bet your best memories are of the outdoors and I bet they don’t involve screens of any kind, whether phones, laptops or televisions.

  There is widespread concern that youngsters today are losing out on the simple pleasures of outdoor play. The National Trust is trying to turn this around with a campaign called 50 Things to Do Before You Are 11 and 3/4 and at Bodnant Garden we’re doing our bit too.

  We’re looking hard at ways to make the garden more family friendly – both in the facilities we offer and the experiences we can give to our visitors. As part of this we’re running a host of activities for kids over the spring and summer and it starts this Bank Holiday and Half Term.

  Throughout the week why don’t you try out our Top Things To Do at Bodnant Garden?

Child taking part in the Full Bloom Festival at Acorn Bank, near Penrith, Cumbria

– Explore inside a tree on the Top Rose Terrace
– Play croquet on the Croquet Terrace
– Make a flower kebab
– Make a paper boat
– Lend a gardener a hand
– Make a mud pie in the Glades
– Look for a birds nest
– Play pooh sticks on the Mill Bridge
– Hunt for butterflies
– Take a photo of the coolest thing you see. Upload it onto our facebook site and share it.

– And if it’s raining, just bring your wellies and add to the list …run around in the rain and jump in a puddle!

  There will be quizzes and trails to do and we will be giving out checklists to children so they can tick off how many Top Things they get through during the week.

little boy and dog

  But that’s not all! Events planned this week for all visitors include:

– Storytelling in the Pinmill both Saturdays, 2pm-2.30pm (free event).

– Music in the Pinmill on Sunday May 26, from 2pm-4pm (free event).

– Open day at The Poem mausoleum on Tuesday May 28 (free event).

– Late night opening on Wednesday May 29, 5pm-8pm, when families can bring the dog too (normal admission applies).

– Walk and Wine evening on Thursday May 30 when the garden is open 5pm-8pm for a stroll, drinks and nibbles at the Pinmill (£6 entry).

Face-painting at the Full Bloom Festival at Acorn Bank, near Penrith, Cumbria

  There are plenty more events planned at Bodnant Garden for the summer and these are some of the highlights to put in your diary:

Teddy Bears’ Picnic 15 & 16 June – To launch National Picnic Week, with garden games and a best dressed teddy contest.

Midsummer Madness, 22 & 23 June – Events at Bodnant Garden Centre and around the garden including planting, colouring, pond dipping and garden games. We’re also going to open a secret area of the garden for a special sneak preview before it opens in 2014.

Grow Wild! 22 July- 6 September – Summer holiday fun for the family including mud pie making, evening nature walks, a machinery weekend, tree climbing and chance to be a garden apprentice.

may trail poster

For all these events and more keep an eye on our website  Facebook page and this blog.

Photos supplied by National Trust and Bodnant Garden