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Bodnant Gardens is rightly famed for its laburnum arch which during its peak flowering time is a truly glorious sight. Earlier in the year a friend and I visited whilst it was being pruned back, a mammoth task conscientiously performed each year, so we were very keen to see it again when it came into bloom.

information about the laburnam aarch

information about the laburnum arch

How it looked back in mid-January this year:

Pruning the laburnam arch

Pruning the laburnum arch

I had been a little concerned that we may have missed the arch at its best, but fortunately the cooler than usual Spring weather had delayed the event and it turned out our timing was perfect. The arch was breathtaking; honestly, words and even photographs cannot come close to doing it rightful justice.

Walking through sunshine

Walking through sunshine

A rare moment with no people in view

A rare moment with no people in view

There was hardly a space between the glorious panicles of blossoms

There was hardly a space between the glorious racemes of blossoms

Laburnum, or Common Laburnum –  Laburnum anagyroides  is a species of small tree in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. The trees are native to the mountains of southern Europe from France to the Balkan Peninsula. The trees are deciduous. The leaves are trifoliate, somewhat like a clover; the showy flowers are yellow, fragrant and held in pendulous racemes 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long in spring, which makes them very popular garden trees. InL. anagyroides, the racemes are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long, with densely packed flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and can be lethal if consumed in excess.

Flowers & leaves

Flowers & leaves

Having fulfilled the wish to see the magnificent, but artfully manipulated arch, I was keen to explore the wilder side of the rest of the grounds.

The walkway from the arch

The walkway leading down from the arch

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Alliums

To the wilder side of the garden

Pathway to the wilder side of the garden

The wildflower meadow

The wildflower meadow

Then along a pathway that is ‘semi-wildly’ planted with long grass and flowering plants that I think are species of Asphodel.

Pathway planted  with asphodels

Pathway planted with asphodels

From their appearance I think these are a species of Asphodel

From their appearance I think these are a species of Asphodel

Along a newly-opened woodland path alongside water

Along a newly-opened woodland path alongside a stream

Being a warm, sunny day our walk was much about light, dappled shade, water both running and still that held deep reflections of the lush foliage above it.

Beneath white blossomed rhododendron

Beneath a canopy of white blossomed rhododendron

Cool green

Reflected cool greens

Red

Red-flowered rhododendrons glow amongst the cool greenery

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The Skating Pond and its environs, appropriately named ‘Far End’ are a newly restored area of the Gardens and only recently opened to the public.  The area was originally named the ‘Wild Garden’ and is believed to have been designed to give a naturalistic feel, recreating what was seen and experienced in nature. Sightings of kingfishers, herons, otters and woodpeckers are all possible here.

Dozens of brilliant blue damselflies flitted around the edge of the pond, pausing to rest on the foliage that lines its edges.

Damsel fly

Common Blue Damselfly on a hosta leaf

And I have never seen as many tadpoles as there were swimming in ‘schools’ around the lily pads.

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A small number of the hundreds of tadpoles in the pond

across the Skating Pond

across the Skating Pond

Yellow Flag Iris

Yellow Flag Iris

There is a lovely gingko biloba, one of the most ancient of tree species, growing in this part of the garden

A Ginko Biloba tree

A Gingko Biloba tree- also known as Maidenhair tree

and beneath the tree beautiful blue Meconopsis, or Himalayan Poppy

Meconopsis-Himalayan Poppy

Meconopsis sp – Himalayan Poppy

Blossom of a gorgeous   Wedding Cake Tree-Cornus controversa 'Variegata'

Blossom of a gorgeous Wedding Cake Tree-Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’

A buttecup meadow

A buttecup meadow

We stopped for refreshment at the café in the Dell, sitting in front of this unremarkable cotoneaster bush which we soon noticed was alive with dozens of nectaring honey bees.

The place to bee

The place to bee

Beneath tall trees

Beneath tall trees

Pink-tinges white rhododendron

Pink-tinged white rhododendron

A determined boy holding onto an objecting swan

A determined small boy holding onto an objecting swan

View from an upper terrace garden onto a lily pond

View from an upper terrace garden onto a lily pond

water lilies in the formal pools of the terrace gardens

water lilies in the formal pools of the terrace gardens

On the lily pads that adorn the formal pools of the Terrace gardends were more damsel flies, the males gripping onto their captive females preparing to take off for the task of the depositing of eggs. The females of this species occur in two colour forms; some are blue like the males, others, as here are green.

Coupled damselflies preparing for take-off

Coupled damselflies preparing for take-off

Between the lily pads we  were lucky to spot two newts swimming near the surface. I didn’t have my long lens with me so this is the closest I could get leaning over the edge of the pool, but I think it’s a Common or Smooth Newt.

Newt in a lily pond

Newt in a lily pond

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

An intriguing archway in a  stone wall

An intriguing archway in a stone wall tempting further exploration

Blue flag irises

Blue flag irises amid the curious flowers of Nectaroscordum siculum

I loved the colour and form combination of the blue flag irises and unusual ornamental onion plants that had umbrellas of hanging, bell-shaped flowers. A nearby plant label named them as Nectaroscordum siculum  and I think they may commonly known as Sicilian honey garlic.

We concluded this tour of my favourite garden savouring the aromas of some of the newly-opening blooms in the rose garden which will be glorious in a few weeks time….. there’s always something here to tempt you back.