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As dedicated as I am to ‘real’ nature, even I can’t resist the temptation to stray occasionally into the more contrived, cultivated and  colourful world of a beautiful garden. A couple of weeks ago, on a glorious sunny and warm day, I persuaded my daughter to accompany me on a stately visit to nearby Bodnant Garden. She agreed as soon as I mentioned that I’d treat her to lunch.

I  ‘belong’ to the National Trust and do visit this particularly lovely woodland garden occasionally, each time wondering why I don’t go more often. I was particularly keen to go now to see the laburnum arch which is one of Bodnant’s claims to fame, but although beginning to show colour it perhaps needed another week or so to reach its peak. But by way of compensation, the azaleas and rhododendrons and other planted beds were absolutely stunning. Words are unnecessary, the photographs speak for themselves, so here is some of what we saw.

The view walking down from the car park

The view walking down from the car park

We could see that despite it being a Monday, the car park was very full and there were coaches too. We decided to have lunch before going into the gardens so we could look around in a leisurely fashion without worrying there’d be nothing left. I had the ploughman’s, daughter the quiche. Very nice too.

Daughter letting everyone know we'd arrived safely and that she wants a tree like this one

Daughter letting everyone know we’d arrived safely and that she wants a tree like this one

Big fat poppy bud

Big fat poppy bud

Poppies that don't look real

Poppies that don’t look real

Azaleas

Azaleas

There's something about yellow flowers against a blue sky

There’s something about yellow flowers against a blue sky

This is the wildflower meadow

This is the wildflower meadow with an Oak tree

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens 08-Beautiful bells

Beautiful peachy-pink bells

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens 11-Azaleas, bright green maple, eucalyptus & purple tree

A lovely composition of azaleas, vivid green maple, eucalyptus and a purple-leaved tree

More vibrant colours contrasted with white

More vibrant colours contrasted with white

A bee seeking nectar

An bee look-alike seeking nectar

So many shades of pink in one flower

So many shades of pink in one flower

As you walk down towards the woodland dell there is a flower bed that has species of flowers resembling wild ones but exaggerated. Even the Welsh poppies were larger and perfectly formed.

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens 016-More Welsh Poppies

Welsh poppies

This looks a bit like a dead-nettle, but it's bigger

This looks a bit like a dead-nettle, but it’s bigger

The 'dead-nettle' look-alike has a fascinating flower

The ‘dead-nettle’ look-alike has a fascinating flower

This plant resembled Cow-Parsley, but with a purple rinse

This plant resembled Cow-Parsley, but with a purple rinse

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens 17-A last magnolia flower

A last magnolia

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens 21-A woodland path in dappled shade

A tempting wood path in dappled shade

Looking down into the dell; a patchwork of greens with accents of colour

Looking down into the dell; a patchwork of greens with accents of colour

A simple, graceful Solomon's Seal

A simple, graceful Solomon’s Seal

Pretty white bells

Pretty white bells

We sat on a bench at the side of the stream for a while to have a chat (on the phone) and wish penblwydd hapus (happy birthday) to number 2 son who lives and works in London and used to speak Welsh.

A tranquil view of the stream runnning through the dell

A tranquil view of the stream runnning through the dell

I was fascinated by some crazy flies zooming back and forth over the water. They all seemed to be racing to a particular point, moving so fast they left a blurry trail, then they turned round and zoomed back again, repeated that a few times then broke up into a cloud for a few seconds before doing it again. They were quite large insects, I thought perhaps mayflies, but can they move that fast? I always thought they were a bit airy-fairy, float through the air-ish. They kept me entertained for ages whatever they were.

I was fascinated by crazy flies over the water

I was fascinated by crazy flies over the water. Lush Hostas, why don’t the slugs eat them?

Impressive fern

Impressive fern

Just the kind of hilly bank we’d have rolled down as kids. Tempting though…

I think this picture of people on the bridge is my favourite of the day.They look so small

I think this picture of people on the bridge is my favourite of the day. They look so small

Daughter ran over the stepping stones to video me crossing. She was hoping for a 'you've been framed' opportunity

Daughter ran over the stepping stones to video me crossing behind her. She was hoping for a ‘you’ve been framed’ opportunity. Ha! No chance.

The rhododendrons are almost over and petals cover the ground beneath them

The rhododendrons are almost over and their petals were thick on the ground

Aah

Aah

A carpet of red

A red carpet 

There were even petals in the stream

There were even petals in the stream

I loved this starry deep blue periwinkle

I loved this starry deep blue periwinkle

130603TGNT-Bodnant Gardens

Flowers on a carousel

Even the best people have a daisy lawn these days

Even the best people have a daisy lawn these days

Bluebells are almost at the end of their flowering

Bluebells are almost at the end of their flowering

And a last view upstream before heading off to find the laburnum arch.

The laburnum arch, not quite at its best but you can see the potential

The laburnum arch, not quite at its best, but still pretty impressive

I’ve just checked the website for Bodnant and it says the arch is in full bloom now. Apparently it is so famous that people from all over the world go to see it. I thought it was busy there today.