Help us warm up for winter

Skimmia japonica (2)

  At Bodnant Garden we’re preparing the new Winter Garden for a first full season open to the public – and inviting volunteers to muck in and warm up with a Winter Garden Tidy-Up Day on November 28.

  Thousands flocked to the new area when it was unveiled in the New Year and it has been drawing crowds of visitors ever since.

  Gardener Katie Croft, who is organising the volunteer day, says: “The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping but our beautiful Winter Garden is about to spring into life. We’d like help to get it looking at its frosty best. Come and join our gardeners clearing and mulching. You might pick up a few tips for keeping your garden looking good over winter too!”


  This year is the first time Bodnant Garden has been open all year – in the past it closed for part of the winter – and it’s also the first full season for the new Winter Garden which has been developed close to the Top Lawn.

  The Winter Garden was four years in the planning and two years in the making. The area was a former Edwardian rockery which had become a tangle of overgrown rhododendrons and azaleas and was closed off to the public. During the £35,000 renovation project, shrubs were cut back, paths relaid and around 30,000 new winter interest plants introduced.

  Originally it was intended to close the area in March but there were 10,000 visitors from January to March this year and there has been so much interest that it has been kept open through spring, summer and autumn.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pieris japonica Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Providing colour through winter and spring…Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’, Pieris japonica and Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

  Our Acting Head Gardener, Adam Salvin, says: “It’s an ongoing project. As the Winter Garden matures and fills out it will only get better and better. There’s more work going on there too – this year more bulbs have been planted which will provide a riot of colour next spring. The Winter Garden itself is the centrepiece of long term plan to provide more seasonal interest for visitors now that Bodnant Garden is open all year.”

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' 03

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’

  Through the winter there will be a brazier in The Dell at weekends and a kiosk providing hot drinks, snacks and soup, plus special winter meals in the Pavilion Tearoom. We will also be running winter events throughout Christmas and New Year. Opening hours are 10.30am to 4pm and entry is at the reduced price of £4.54 for adults and £2.27 for a child.

  During the Winter Garden Tidy-Up Day volunteers will be helping throughout the upper garden, cutting back herbaceous plants, mulching and leaf clearing. There is no extra cost to take part and lunch is provided for volunteers but places are limited so booking is a must, by contacting 01492 650460.

Hamamelis mollis 'Nymans' 02  Helleborus x hybridus 'Red Spotted Lady'

Hamamelis mollis ‘Nymans’ and Helleborus x hybridus ‘Red Spotted Lady’ 

A bright start to 2013 – in spite of the weather!

troyAfter all the hard work getting our new Winter Garden ready for opening, Head Gardener Troy Smith takes stock of its success so far…and detects a hint of spring around the rest of the garden.

Three weeks into our winter opening and nearly 3,000 visitors have enjoyed the garden, blessed with only the occasional moment of brightness, for most of the last two weeks the weather, though behaving itself, has mostly been grey and damp, yet mild.

Given this relative warmth the flowering plants have really raced on. It was around January 4th that I sensed a slight glance towards spring in the garden; the days were noticeably lengthening, birds could be heard singing and the scent of Sarcococca began to waft in the air.

In the winter garden it is amazing how plants which looked dull just a few weeks ago, such as Leucothoe, Bergenia and Euonymus, have taken on their winter colour, with their foliage turning, red and pink tinged. The coloured stems of the dogwood are also more striking, taking on an almost luminous quality. The humble bramble, Rubus thibetanus, extends its ghostly gage-like structure across the beds with Galanthus and Cyclamen flowering beneath.

The stars today however are the established groups of Rhododendron ‘Nobleanum’, the best known early-flowering hybrid crossed in the mid 1830s. Bushes more than 4m high are plastered with flowers ranging from scarlet-rose, pinkish red, white flushed pink and deep red giving a most pleasing effect.

Spending time this week lifting and dividing small groups of Galanthus (we now grow in excess of 50 different varieties), I await the delivery of 20,000 G. nivalis for planting (with our visitors’ help) in the Old Park. Perhaps in years to come the sheet of white will be a display to match the beauty of the Rhododendron ‘Nobleanum’ we are enjoying today.

winter garden

The Winter Garden