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Bodnant is the home of Lord Aberconwy who, until recently, was president of the Royal Horticultural Society in the U.K. It boasts a stately home (not open to the public) and extensive gardens which are open every day between the hours of 10am to 5pm from mid-March to the end of October. It takes at least half a day to see the gardens properly, perhaps even a full day.
With plantings that date back to 1792, this grand garden in northern Wales boasts spectacular views of the river Conwy and the Snowdon range beyond. Though considered a mild climate for northern Wales, the garden can still suffer significant frosts every year.
The southern half of the property (including the Chapel Park and the Dell) is largely forested and criss-crossed with pathways. The rhododendrons and hostas are particularly stunning, and there are some large and beautiful conifer specimens in the Dell.
The northern half of the property is more developed and includes a series of theme gardens set on terraces. As you make your way up or down the hillside, each area unfolds, providing a different and exciting new vista.
The first area, adjacent to the house (Bodnant Hall), is the upper Rose Terrace. At one end of this garden is a large Arbutus andrachnoides. This plant has spectacular coloured bark with orange and grey markings. The related Arbutus unedo (Irish strawberry tree) is grown in southern parts of Australia and into Queensland, and it too has similar colourful bark, but this specimen of A. andrachnoides is far larger than any related plant seen in Australia.
The Croquet Lawn overlooks the other terraces, with views for miles, although the gardens below aren’t fully revealed until you walk down to them. The Lily Terrace and Canal Terrace are more formal gardens. Between these two terraces is the Lower Rose Terrace, a series of formal rose beds, interplanted with herbs and perennials.
Below the Terraces
On the southern side of the Pin Mill is a large embankment devoted to camellias. These include many hybrid varieties which have resulted from crossing C. williamsii with C. japonica and C. saluenensis. Further down the hill there is a large group of deciduous rhododendrons. The borders just below the Canal Terrace include a range of magnolia species bordering long, straight paths. At the north end of the Magnolia Borders is a vista that extends across the Rock Garden to an old mill at the bottom of the hill.
The East Garden and Front Lawn
These areas are largely informal in layout, incorporating large garden beds; some filled with shrubs and trees, others with spectacular displays of flowering perennials. The large areas of lawn provide a series of vistas of the house.
The gardens are worth visiting at any time from Spring to Autumn, though if you can time it right, the Laburnum Arch is spectacular to see. It is one of the most famous Laburnum arches in England.
Bodnant is well known in northern Wales, and if you are visiting that area, should not be missed.
Facilities include: Toilets, Restaurant, Snacks, Gift Shop, and a large Garden Centre.
Parts of the garden are steep, so access to some areas may be challenging if you are not fit.
Article by John Mason and staff of ACS Distance Education.