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Bodnant Gardens has all the elements I would choose for my own perfect garden; a steeply wooded valley with beautiful trees, a waterfall and a large pond, streams that cascade down the hillside, ferns and mosses, glorious flowering shrubs, interesting nooks and crannies, a wildflower meadow and of course its famous and glorious laburnum arch.

No matter the time of year you visit, there is always plenty to enjoy and the following photographs are just a few of the things that caught my attention during the first visit of the year towards the end of January.  I often visit here on my own, but this time it was lovely to be accompanied by a friend who was seeing the gardens for the first time.

Background of snowy mountains

Background of snowy mountains

It was a cold, snow-on-the -hills, rather overcast day, not too conducive for lingering and gloves were needed between photographs to thaw out fingers, so I didn’t made notes of the species of plants, just enjoyed them.

Wych Hazel underplanted with black grass and snowdrops

Wych Hazel under-planted with Black Grass (Ophiopogon) and snowdrops

Snowdrops almost out

Snowdrops almost out

Iris

Iris

Bodnant House is not open to the public

Bodnant House is not open to the public

Anothe Wych Hazel, a golden yellow almost orange

Another Wych Hazel, a golden yellow, almost orange

Rhododendron, also past its best

Rhododendron, alas past its best

 

 

I was surprised by the numbers of rhododendron and camellias in full bloom, but even this early in the year many are already past their best and the ground beneath was strewn with fallen petals.

A pink camellia, past its best but still beautiful

A pink camellia, also past its best but still beautiful

A gorgeous creamy white camellia

A gorgeous creamy white camellia

Looking down into the Dell, onto the waterfall

Looking down into the Dell, onto the waterfall

Cascading streams and mossy rocks….

150120TG-Bodnant 10-Water

150120TG-Bodnant 12-Stream & falling water

150120TG-Bodnant 22-Mossy stones by water150120TG-Bodnant 21-Mossy stones by water

A close-up of  a fern-like moss

A close-up of a fern-like moss

Lichen draped along twiggy branches

Lichen draped along twiggy branches

Red berries of

Red berries

As I mentioned earlier, Bodnant is famed for its beautiful and impressive laburnum arch. At this time every year the arch is painstakingly pruned and the branches that will produce this year’s blossoms are individually tied into place. On the day of our visit we spoke to the ladies doing the work, which they assured us is a real labour of love and that its repetitive nature is peaceful and ‘zen-like’. Good to hear as the process takes around six weeks to complete. For visitors the end result is a neat and orderly, beautifully crafted structure that will support thousands of panicles of glorious yellow flowers this coming spring.

Pruning the laburnam arch

Pruning the laburnum arch

The narrative board that explains the pruning process

The narrative board that explains the pruning process

Still a way to go- the un-pruned half

Still a way to go – the un-pruned half

This is a photograph taken of the arch on a visit in mid-June when the blossoms were almost, but not fully out.

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

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