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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.


Welcome to Furnace Wood and Meadow

At last, after a decade of work, we’ve taken down the ropes to reveal a restored jewel in the crown of Bodnant Garden – Furnace Wood and Meadow, a 20 acre woodland of native and exotic trees and a wildflower-rich meadow.


We celebrated our big opening day with the help of special guests – Dame Helen Ghosh (Director General of the National Trust), Justin Albert (Director for National Trust in Wales), Michael McLaren (Bodnant Garden Director and member of the garden’s donor family) and the naturalist and broadcaster Iolo Williams…and most importantly with our visitors, who we welcomed to Furnace for the first time in the garden’s history.

After speeches from our guests, arborist Richard performed the ‘ribbon-cutting’ (cutting a log with a chainsaw) to open the garden for a sunny afternoon of celebrations – guided walks by gardeners, woodcraft demonstrations, plant hunter activities for children in the wood and daffodil planting in the meadow. Iolo rounded off the day for us by sharing out the 1m square cake to visitors – a baking triumph by our catering team for which we almost needed the chainsaw again (because of its size, not texture!)
Cutting the Log (During)

This beautiful and historic area has been at the heart of a 21st century battle against plant disease and decay. Its rescue is the biggest conservation effort in Bodnant’s history and brings us closer to our ambition of opening the entire garden to the public.

Head gardener John Rippin says: “The opening is a high point in the garden’s 140-year history. This segment of the garden is the last significant piece of the Bodnant jigsaw to be fitted into place – with 75 of the 80 acres now open, we are now tantalisingly close to the day when visitors can enjoy all of this gardening masterpiece.

Furnace Hill lies alongside the west bank of the River Hiraethlyn in the valley garden. It is named after a blast furnace known to have operated in the area in the 1700s. Originally a hillside dotted with native trees, it was transformed from the 1870s under Bodnant Garden’s owner Henry Pochin and his daughter Laura McLaren, who planted North American conifers. Laura’s son Henry added many Asian rhododendrons and magnolias from the early 1900s.

Lying on the fringes of the estate, Furnace remained a private area for many decades, beloved by the McLaren donor family who cherished its tranquillity and its panoramic views, and filled it with exotic trees and shrubs from foreign lands.


As recently as February 2017 gardeners faced another struggle, when Storm Doris brought down several trees in the renovated area

In around 2007 the killer plant disease Phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak death) was spotted in the garden where it began attacking ornamental plants, particularly in Furnace Wood. Gardeners acted quickly; there followed a campaign of action supervised by DEFRA, to mass clear the area of purple woodland Rhododendron ponticum and other species such as larch trees which carried the disease. While some plants were lost, the spaces left behind gave gardeners an opportunity to plant anew and kick-started a major renovation.

This has included the restoration of the Penjerrick Walk, an avenue of rare rhododendrons originally planted by Henry McLaren, 2nd Lord Aberconway, from the 1920s. The feature had died out but Bodnant Garden has been able to clone surviving plant material and replant the 100 metre-long walkway, which it is hoped will rival the famous Laburnum Arch in future.

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As well as containing a historic collection of magnolias, rhododendrons and other Asian plants, Furnace Wood offers visitors panoramic views over the rest of the garden, including a bird’s-eye vista of the Italianate terraces on the other side of the river.

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While the plants, views and seclusion of Furnace Wood will delight lovers of horticulture, nearby Furnace Meadow is rich in wildlife. The garden team are managing this grassland in a traditional way to promote the rich diversity of species there.

John Rippin adds: “Furnace Wood and Meadow offer extraordinary glimpses across the surrounding Welsh countryside but the biggest surprise for visitors will be breath-taking views of the Terraces and Bodnant Hall and out across the Vale of Conwy where the estuary meanders close by against the stunning backdrop of the Carneddau mountain range. Add to that the abundance of rare or beautiful trees, shrubs and wild flowers along with a sense of tranquility and peace and you have something truly spectacular.”
For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram






Well done to our winning photographers

At last we can reveal the winning entry in our photo competition – which graces the front of our new, and first, Bodnant Garden calendar.

WINNER Matt Morrow, Wrexham

This lovely image over the Terraces was taken by Matt Morrow of Wrexham; the runner up was Rolf Kraehenbuehl, of Y Felinheli. They and a further 19 highly commended entries have now been included in our 2015 calendar, which goes on sale this weekend.

We launched our I Love Bodnant Garden competition back in January. Visitors are always sending us great photographs of their time here so we thought a competition would give people chance to show us in pictures what it is they love about this beautiful place, whether in pictures of people, landscapes or close-ups of flowers.

RUNNER UP Rolf Kraehenbuehl, Y Felinheli

Runner-up Rolf Kraehenbuehl – and our heliochronometer on the Top Rose Terrace

Hundreds of visitors sent in an amazing selection of pictures – some funny and quirky, some very artistic – and it was hard to judge between them, but we think the images we’ve chosen reflect the love people have for Bodnant Garden.

The winner will receive £100 in vouchers for Cambrian Photography Shop in Colwyn Bay. The winner and runner-up will get a with workshop Pierino Algieri, a landscape and nature photographer born and raised in Conwy Valley, well known for his images of Snowdonia. They will also have their photographs displayed in the entrance to the garden and together with highly commended entries they make up our calendar 2015.

The calendar goes on sale at the garden during December and costs £6.99. Dare we say it would make a perfect Christmas present?

A massive thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the competition and share their favourite images of the garden. And so without further ado, here they are…

Sylvia Morrow, Wrexham

Sylvia Morrow, Wrexham

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy (3)

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy (2)

Sylvia Kendall, Conwy

Rosemary Williams, St Asaph

Rosemary Williams, St Asaph

Paul Sloane, Chesterfield

Paul Sloane, Chesterfield

Paul Saunders, Benllech

Paul Saunders, Benllech

Matt Morrow, Wrexham

Matt Morrow, Wrexham

Paul Saunders, Benllech

Paul Saunders, Benllech

Matt Morrow, Wrexham

Matt Morrow, Wrexham

Martin Dunhill, Tamworth

Martin Dunhill, Tamworth

Paula Bell, Mold

Linda Bell, Mold

John Quinn, Chester

John Quinn, Chester

Jeremy Leffler, Southport

Jeremy Leffler, Southport

Edwina Bullock, Betws-y-Coed

Edwina Bullock, Betws-y-Coed

David Ackers, Birkenhead

David Ackers, Birkenhead

Brian Parry, Chorley

Brian Parry, Chorley

John C Maloney, Merseyside

John C Maloney, Merseyside

Anne Murray, Penrhyndeudraeth

Anne Murray, Penrhyndeudraeth

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

Lights, camera, hot air balloon…action!


We hope you’ve been enjoying the new BBC series Glorious Gardens from Above which is on now – and are looking forward to the episode featuring Bodnant Garden.

The 15-part show, presented by horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden, shows some of Britain’s finest gardens (including several National Trust gems) as never seen before, filmed from the air. It also has a down to earth side…looking behind the grandeur and aristocratic history of these stately places and talking to ‘ordinary’ people about what the gardens mean to them.

Behind the scenes, the making of the show was as fascinating as the programme itself. A BBC crew spent several days at Bodnant Garden filming but a huge amount went on in preparation before the cameras rolled and after they had departed in the editing stages.


Christine Walkden meeting gardener Fiona

 In the spring a telephone call came from the BBC inviting Bodnant Garden to be involved in the show, triggering several weeks of liaison between us and television researchers, who had to map out the plot and script of the show in great detail to ensure everything went smoothly during the very time consuming and expensive process of filming. It also triggered a search for stars. The programme required local people with special love or connection to the garden – and they had to be willing to be interviewed on camera! It’s one thing loving Bodnant Garden, as many of us do…but going on national telly to talk about it is another. 


Christine with volunteer Phylis



Is it a bird…is it a plane? Using a helicam to film the garden from the air

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Once we had found our stars an advance party from the BBC came to recce the garden, plan locations for filming and do a dummy run of interviewing gardener Fiona Braithwaite, volunteer Phylis Davies and local craftsman Andrew Lloyd. As the week of filming approached there were daily rain checks to decide whether the hot air balloon would be a goer…it was on, and off, and on, and off again…sadly the balloon did not get off the ground at Bodnant in the end but a clever helicam was used instead to get some amazing shots of the garden from the air.


Love to know what did Christine said to Fiona!


Filimg on The Terraces

The first day of filming didn’t begin well, but with torrential rain and the BBC team spent many hours in the Pavilion tearoom formulating a Plan B. Thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon and cameras rolled. Over the course of several days filming it was all hands to the pump as staff and volunteers helped out ferrying film makers and equipment, answering queries, standing by to erect scaffolding, even on one occasion releasing BBC guests who became locked into the garden at the end of a very long day.

Visitors enjoyed seeing the process and many stopped to watch, chat to the crew and say hello to Christine, who was down to earth, warm and a bundle of energy and enthusiasm.


Volunteer Phylis, Christine, gardeners Fran and Fiona


Also taking part in the programme were Cameron Smith, Iain Ashcroft and Andrew Lloyd from A Lloyd Design (Bodnant Craft Units)

All the time and effort that went in to filming the programme at Bodnant Garden is  even more remarkable when you consider that we were one of 15 episodes! So a big thank you to Christine and the BBC crew, and to our stars Fiona, Phylis and Andrew who braved the cameras. All that remains is to say don’t miss it -there have been one or two changes in the TV schedules but Bodnant Garden’s episode is definitely (we think) on Wednesday, November 19, on BBC1 at 3.45pm.

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

Perfect place for a picnic – teddies optional

  If you’re heading to Bodnant Garden this Easter holidays don’t forget the picnic blanket because, by popular demand, we’re now open to al fresco dining for the first time.


  Gardeners testing out the picnic spot in The Old Park… with their Easter eggs (any excuse for chocolate)

  We’ve got four perfect picnic spots already picked out. Visitors can head for the Old Park and spread out their blankets in the meadow among wildflowers, grasses and butterflies; the newly opened Yew Dell with its tree canopy, stream, pools and log seating; The Dell with its famous waterfall, green lawns and giant trees (with the added bonus of a nearby café in summer and log fire in winter); or the grassy glades of Chapel Park.

  If you don’t want to walk that far there are already picnic areas among the trees in the car park with benches and views towards the garden. Or for more traditional dining there is also the Pavilion restaurant in the car park, the Magnolia tearoom close to reception and a refreshment kiosk in The Dell.  

  Property mananger William Greenwood says: “It’s a new venture and we will be trialling it this season to see how it goes, but I’m sure it will be welcome by many, many of our visitors. All we ask is not to picnic on the terraces or formal lawns to help maintain the views, peace and tranquillity for everyone, but instead try one of our favourite spots.”

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Picnic in the grassy glades of Chapel Park overlooking The Poem

  Allowing picnics into Bodnant Garden is another step towards making the garden more enjoyable for everyone. In the last year opening hours have been extended (now open all year), new areas have been opened up, including the Old Park and Yew Dell, and there are plans to open more in the coming years.

  Added to that, by popular request a new refreshment stop has been added in The Dell and a new toilet block near the garden centre. Bodnant Garden is also organising more family events and special interest activities and recently launched a dogs-welcome policy at certain times of the year.


Picnic under the canopy of giant conifers in The Dell (above) or try out the log seating in the Yew Dell (below)


   The popular Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trail will be running again this Easter, on Easter Sunday and Monday. There are also a host of activities for families and adults. For full details contact the garden office on 01492 650460 or see the website

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 

A perfect way to end the day

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We’re opening the gates of Bodnant Garden after hours for the first time. Come and enjoy the sights and sounds of the garden as never before, with a glass of wine to wash down the view!

Bodnant Garden is beautiful at the best of times but imagine relaxing at a table on the Italianate terraces, overlooking the Carneddau mountains as the sun goes down, sipping a crisp white or rich red and listening to the evening bird song, maybe even a touch of classical music in the background…

Imagine no longer! The experience could be yours to enjoy, take home and treasure if you come along to our new Walk and Wine evenings.

We will provide the wine, canapés, music in the Pin Mill and even croquet on the lawn. We can’t absolutely promise you a fine evening of course, but what we can offer is a chance to see the garden as never before when the landscape takes on a completely different ambience – a chance to enjoy our plants, trees and magnificent views in the dusk light.

Just chill quietly and enjoy the atmosphere…or bring friends and pretend you’re at a country house garden party of old – Jeeves and Wooster, or Agatha Christie style (without bloodshed, hopefully).

It is the first time we have opened the garden to the public in the evenings. The idea came from our student gardener David Green who had a light-bulb moment when leaving work last summer.

He recalls: “I got to thinking what I would do when all the visitors had gone home if I lived in the house – put a comfy chair on the Croquet Lawn to watch the light fade, sip Pimms and gorge myself on canapés whilst listening to some light opera, jazz or Bossa Nova… I thought it would be nice to try and recreate a summer evening from Bodnant’s heyday – kinda 1920s maybe.”

Walk and Wine events will take place monthly through the summer on Thursdays  April 25, May 30, June 27, July 25 and August 29, when you can enjoy the full, sophisticated al fresco experience. There will also be an opportunity to see inside the Pin Mill building which will be open to the public and of course the whole garden will be open to visitors for strolling.

In addition, we will be having informal weekly late night openings on Wednesdays in May and June, from 5pm to 8pm – the May dates will be open to dog walkers too. Regular admission charges apply for the Wednesday late night openings.

The first Walk and Wine takes place Thursday, April 25, from 6.30pm to 8pm (last entry 7.30pm) and costs £6. Subsequent Thursday openings take place from 5pm to 8pm. For more details of these events see our website or Facebook page

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

Happy Easter from Bodnant Garden!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring may be late coming, but it’s definitely in the air at Bodnant Garden and visitors who come this Easter holiday can enjoy beautiful sights to lift the weary winter heart.

Daffodils, the symbol of spring and our national emblem, are beginning to bloom at last in great swathes in the meadow of the Old Park and through the grassy glades of the Shrub Borders. The impressive display is the result of decades of bulb planting by gardeners – with a little help from Mother Nature who has helped them to multiply!


Camelia x williamsii ‘Mary Christian’

Other seasonal sights include the camellias – glossy, evergreen and in beautiful colours from pale pastels to vibrant reds and pinks – and the first of the rhododendrons, for which our garden is famous. Many of Bodnant’s rhododendrons were brought here from Asia by plant hunters in the early 20th Century and have been hybridised over the years, creating new plants unique to Bodnant. They can be seen all around the garden and in a special collection in beds on the Lily Terrace such as these two below, Rhododendron ‘Fine Feathers’ and Rhododendron ‘Cilpinense’


In fact the garden holds a national collection of rhododendrons…and also magnolias (some of which are now towering trees more than one hundred years old) which can be seen here in April and May. Their fat, furry buds are swelling in earnest..a few have been trying to burst open already but have been knocked back by the cold snap; let’s hope slightly later flowering varieties are more successful!


Euphorbia myrsinites

Roses are beginning to bud up in the Terraces and climbers like clematis and wisteria are slowly but surely making their way up and across stone walls and pergolas ready for flowering. Formal flower beds are slowly filling out as herbaceous plants re-emmerge from their long winter sleep.

In the Shrub Borders trees such as cherries are starting to blossom and a host of flowering shrubs are already lighting up the borders such as berberis, forsythia and corylopsis. Down in the Dell giant conifers look down on lush river banks filling out with greenery. Primroses are popping up and everywhere bulbs are dotting the ground with colour – snowdrops, crocus, daffodils, cyclamen and iris.


Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’

The Pin Mill is looking stunning after a recent renovation; work is also underway on a new White Garden on the Lower Rose Terrace, and on an extension to the Alpine Garden on the Top Rose Terrace – come and see the works in progress.

There are a host of activities in April – Easter events for families such as chocolate egg hunts, special walks, storytelling and music in the Pin Mill and a specialist plant fair. We’re also launching new events from April such as Walk and Wine evenings and late night openings. There’s so much to see and do, so celebrate spring at Bodnant Garden!  By gardener Fran Llewellyn



MARCH 29: Quoits in the garden, every day until April 6 (free).
MARCH 30: Story telling in the Pin Mill, 2 – 2.30pm (free)
MARCH 31: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Pavilion tearoom 3pm (booking required), Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trails (£2).
APRIL 1: Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trails (£2), National Trust Egg and Spoon Race, 12 noon, no extra charge.
APRIL 2: Walk with the gardener at 11am, £2
APRIL 3: Falconry, 10.30am-4pm (free)
APRIL 6: Story telling in the Pin Mill, 2 – 2.30pm (free)
APRIL 7: Plant Hunters’ Fair 10am – 4pm