WALES // BODNANT GARDEN

WALES // BODNANT GARDEN

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Dylan Thomas

How beautiful is the laburnum arch! So a couple of weeks ago I visited Bodnant Gardens in the hope I wasn’t too late to see all the Rhododendrons in bloom, I was too late. However if I wasn’t late I would never have seen the laburnum arch which was utterly stunning.

The 55 metre-long flowering feature was created by the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin in 1880. He employed Edward Milner, apprentice to Joseph Paxton, to help design the formal garden around Bodnant Hall, including a Laburnum Arch based on pergola walkways of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed to be the longest and oldest in Britain.

Luckily it was pouring with rain when I arrived and the gardens were empty which gave me time to get the above picture. Within an hour the arch was completely filled with visitors. If you can get there early, it makes the whole experience so much more magical!

As per normal I have taken far too many pictures, but this time you will understand why. Bodnant Gardens is situated in Conwy about 20 minutes outside Llandundo and is in my opinion the best gardens in the UK. If you get at the right time of year April/May it can only be described as heaven. Every shade of blooms is out in front of your eyes and the air is filled with the sweetest of smells. I would be more then happy to take my last breath sat on a bench overlooking the gardens.

Bodnant Gardens isn’t just another garden it is horticultural paradise is renowned for its collection of Rhododendrons from China and Tibet, Magnolias and Camelias from China and a host of other unique plants including the Chilean Firebrush and the Himalayan Blue Poppy, 42 Champion Trees (officially registered as being the biggest and best examples of their kind in the UK) as well as its Laburnum Arch. 

There is such a beautiful history to the estate, Henry Pochin was born in 1824, into a farming family from Leicestershire. In his later years, he gained an apprenticeship in Manchester with the chemist, James Woolley. Following the success of his studies, they later become partners, until Woolley became ill and died in 1858, leaving his property and laboratory to Pochin, making him the sole proprietor.

In 1852, Pochin married Agnes Heap, a prominent member of the women’s suffrage campaign in Manchester. The couple spent several years working for the community before they retired to North Wales in 1874. Bodnant Garden and Hall was where the couple decided to settle, they went on to have a family and began shaping the landscape of the valley and contributing to the wider community by improving farming practices and providing clean water and gas to nearby towns. Pochin’s children shared their father’s passion for plants and gardens, and when Henry died in 1895, they continued his legacy and went on to develop the grounds. The gardens and hall remained in the family until 1949, when it was donated to the National Trust. Henry Pochin’s ancestors continue to contribute to the gardens developments, with descendant Michael McLaren the current garden director.

In Welsh, Bodnant translates to ‘dwelling by a stream’ which is appropriate for the location of the gardens and hall. The grounds are situated next to the Afron Hirarthlyn River, just outside of Llandudno on the North coast of Wales.

I stopped for a cheeky little sausage roll, FYI the kiosk here does possibly the best sausage roll in the whole WORLD! They are worth the two hour drive alone, so I was sat watching the world go by when this little robin red breast stopped by for a little look. There he was looking all cute, red chest all rosy when he went in for my pastry and then flew off with it!! Cheeky little bugger, also is it just me or does anyone else assume all robins are boys?!

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” – Luther Burbank

Its times like these when I wished I knew more about flowers and plants or at least I wish I knew anything, even the names!

This giant 18 foot willow women stands towering over visitors on the Lily Terrace in Bodnant Gardens. The giant sculpture of a lady releasing a dove, which has been named ‘Unbind the Wing’, was created by artist Trevor Leat and was revealed as part of Bodnant Garden’s celebration of women’s suffrage.

This is part of the National Trust’s wider year of women and power celebrating suffrage stories across Britain.The creators of Bodnant Garden played a lead role in the suffrage movement from the mid Victorian to Edwardian period and earlier this year staff invited artists to submit designs for a commemorative work of garden art.

This piece of art is stunning, from the house you look at her sat in front of a backdrop of mountains. I had to read up on here once I got hope, it would have been lovely to see more information about her during my trip.

It would seem that I accidentally matched my outfit to the flowers! Purple and yellow was the theme of the day! Despite it being a very grey and rainy morning, the colours of the flowers made the trip more than worth it! I had to do so much research for this blog, I discovered its beautiful history which I just know means that when I return to Bodnant Gardens it will feel so much more special. I am forever a day dreamer and forever the girl who’s heart belongs to times gone by! I think the one thing that blogging has taught me is that everywhere has its on little story and its not enough to simply visit places you must learn as much as you, soak up the cultures and always be curious!

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