Bodnant Garden Revisited

Bodnant is a world famous garden, situated in the county borough of Conwy in North Wales, with wonderful views of the Conwy Valley and the Carneddau Mountains of Snowdonia. It is owned by the National Trust and visited by 190,000 people every year.

Bodnant is a perfect place to visit at any time of year – as my aunt and uncle, who live almost on its doorstep, will confirm. It’s open for 362 days every year, closing only on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The 80 acre garden is magnificent and has become a perfect venue for weddings. It is “home to the National Collection of Champion Trees”.

Yet there’s much more to Bodnant than trees.

The last time we visited Bodnant was on a lovely sunny day in early June, 2015. Due to my aunt’s mobility problems at that time, we stayed in the Upper Gardens, close to the Entrance and Garden Centre, as well as Bodnant Hall (which I’ll say more about later on). There’s plenty to see in this area alone, without heading down into The Dell (valley), including the Italianate Terraces and the many shrub borders edging the pathways and expansive lawns. The famous Laburnum Arch is also in the Upper Garden – which we were fortunate to see in flower in June 2015. Delightful ponds add to the tranquility of the setting. Roses of all descriptions were also in bloom in June 2015, so in late July this year we were treated to completely different displays of foliage and colour:

This fabulous garden was founded in 1874 when Leicestershire man, Henry Davis Pochin, bought the estate. He employed a local apprentice named Edward Milner and together they landscaped the hills and valley and planted American and Asian conifers on the banks of the River Hiraethlyn. The stream banks were reinforced to create woodland and water gardens and there is an unusual bridge across the stream called Waterfall Bridge:

Pochin’s daughter, Laura, married Charles Mclaren, the First Baron of Aberconway, and the Hall has been in that family ever since. It took successive generations of the Mclaren family to create Bodnant as we see it today, and although the gardens were given to the National Trust in 1949, the Hall remains the possession of the present Lord Aberconway and is not open to the public. However, Lord Aberconway and his family are still actively involved in the Garden’s management and improvement.

On our way down to The Dell it started to rain (no surprise there!) so we spent a while sheltering under the trees. But we still had some great views of the Old Mill:

At the furthest end of the valley, and Bodnant as a whole, is a large pond called the Skating Pond. I can only imagine it got its name because it froze over in winter and was used (literally) as a skating pond. But it’s a pretty pond anyway, with a boat house to one side and edged by trees, including a few huge willows.

Car parking at Bodnant is across the road, but pedestrians reach the gardens via an underpass. There are four places at which to find refreshments. One of the cafes, which serves actual meals, is next to the car park and one that serves snacks and sandwiches is by the Entrance. The other two small places for light snacks and drinks are down in the Dell – one close to the Old Mill and another, which we’ve never used, is by the Skating Lake.

To finish with, this is a photo of the famous Laburnum Arch. If you want to see it in flower like this, June is the time to visit.

30 thoughts on “Bodnant Garden Revisited

    1. Thanks Peggy. You know, I’d love to see your “must-do” list! Lol. I imagine, once unscrolled, it would stretch for miles (and mine wouldn’t be far behind it!). On a serious note, Bodnant is lovely. We want to get there in autumn, when I imagine the colours will be fantastic. But the laburnun arch is absolutely fabulous and well worth seeing.

    1. Bodnant is one of those place people visit over and over again. My aunt and uncle visit almost weekly, and tell me there’s always something different to see. The flower beds display different plants and flowers throughout the year. I wish it was on my doorstep – I’d be there every day! Thanks for the nice comment, Galit.

    1. I remember you saying you’d been down in The Dell two years ago, Ali. It’s so different to the areas near to the hall, but a really lovely walk – when it isn’t pouring down! Lol 🙂 If you do visit again, I’d love to read your post about it.

    1. Bodnant is a lovely place, MG and one that people spend many hours in. We’ve been several times now, as it’s so close to my Auntie Joan’s house (my mum’s younger sister). Have a great weekend, too!

  1. Thank you, Cathy! Beautiful gardens appeal to people worldwide, and Bodnant is certainly one of the best I’ve visited in the UK. The magnolia arch is amazing in late May – early June, but there are so many fabulous trees and plants to see all year round.

  2. MIllie – your photos are beautiful…the arch is magical. Love the skating pond…does it really get that cold in Wales for a skating-ready pond? How magical that would be. 🙂

    1. Hi Jeanne – and thank you for the lovely comment. I doubt if the Skating Pond would freeze over enough for skating on nowadays, but in the early 19th century (a period known as the ‘Little Ice Age” in Britain) winters were much more severe. I imagine the pond got it’s name at that time. I agree, it’s a magical, Christmas card type of image. It’s a lovely pond, whatever, and the boathouse suggests people from the hall would enjoy rowing out on it.

      1. Very interesting…here (in NYC) there are many photos of NY Harbor freezing over and people skating…and that’s salt water…it really must have been much colder than it is today.

  3. What a pleasant way to spend the day (even with a bit of rain). The gardens seem so peaceful. I’m sure I would appreciate them even more if I knew more about horticulture. But I don’t need any special knowledge to appreciate how gorgeous and dramatic that arch at the end is, oh my!

    1. Thanks Joy, your comments are always so welcome. 😀 I’ve hardly been on my blog lately and am so behind with everything. I’ll try to catch up eventually. The laburnum arch is amazing. We’d visited Bodnant a couple of times before we saw the arch in flower, and it was a stroke of luck we visited my auntie and uncle that year at the beginning of June. My uncle took the photo of Nick and I as we came through the arch.

      1. It’s a great photo — and now you know the best time to go there!

        I know what you mean about feeling behind on things; I’ve basically given up reading even half of the blog posts that I want to, and have to call it good if I can post even one flash fiction piece a week — and I’m still not getting my “real” writing goals done Well, one day at a time.

    1. Oh dear, if you suffer from hayfever or suchlike, perhaps you’d have to give the laburnum arch a miss, Cybele. There are flowing plants, trees and shrubs all over Bodnant, so would they all make you sneeze? It must be hard for you in summer, if that’s the case. Anyway, thank you so much for liking my post. At least photos won’t make you sneeze. 🙂

  4. Delightful photo series from the beautiful Welsh garden,fascinated with the garden architecture and the big variety of flowers!The golden flowers of the Arch perfectly wrote the epilogue of your brilliant post,Millie 🙂 xxx

  5. How lovely to see you here again, Doda and thank you for the nice comment. I hope you’re having a good, restful holiday before you set off on your travels again. Bodnant is one of the best-known gardens in Britain, and the laburnum arch is particularly so. It is an old-established place and has had plenty of time for many species to flourish. The roses in June are fabulous – all types of standards, ramblers and trailers adorn flower beds and trellises. Like the laburnum, they were all in flower the last time we went. We hope to get there again in October to see that autumn colours. 😀

  6. Bodnant’s been on the list for ages, but we haven’t made it yet. It looks amazing – though you do need to be lucky with the weather in that part of the world. Loved the tour – thank you!

    1. Thanks Mike. I’m sure you’d love Bodnant, but you’re right about the weather: Wales isn’t known for too many dry days. If you do manage to get there, June would be the time to see the laburnum arch in flower. (Check online sites which advise people of flowering dates for the year in question.) We caught it in flower by chance in 2015 as we hadn’t originally planned to visit Bodnant on that particular trip (we were on the castles round!). 🙂

  7. Delightful photos and post Millie. 🙂 The Laburnum Arch looks magnificent and to add to that is your photo with your husband, I guess. God bless you both!
    Your aunt sure is very lucky to stay close to such a place, Millie. 😀

  8. Yes it is me and husband, Nick. 🙂 My uncle took the photo as we tootled along through the arch. We were absolutely delighted to see the arch in flower as we’d never caught it on previous visits – but there’s so much to see in flower at other times that we were already besotted with the place. My aunt in Wales is my mum’s younger sister – and there was 20 years between them. So my Auntie Joan is only 6 years older than me! We were more like sisters when we were young.

  9. The Laburnum Arch is wonderful if you catch it at the right time, Inese. We were just lucky to see it like this on that particular year. I believe officials from the site do give out notices as to when it’s about to flower, and is in bloom – but we didn’t know that at the time. We only visited on my aunt’s suggestion, as we’d gone to Wales to take photos of several castles! 😀

  10. Wow, the Laburnum Arc is breathtaking! It looks like such a magical place to visit. It must be amazing for your Aunt and Uncle to live so close, especially when she had more mobility.

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