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.
How it looked back in mid-January this year:
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.
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.
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.
Then along a pathway that is ‘semi-wildly’ planted with long grass and flowering plants that I think are species of Asphodel.
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.
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.
And I have never seen as many tadpoles as there were swimming in ‘schools’ around the lily pads.
There is a lovely gingko biloba, one of the most ancient of tree species, growing in this part of the garden
and beneath the tree beautiful blue Meconopsis, or Himalayan Poppy
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.
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.
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.
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.