We visited Bodnant Garden almost on a whim, after travelling to Ruthin for a business meeting. With the windows of the car rolled down and the spectacular imagery provided by the Conwy Valley all around us, it did not require much persuasion to visit. Bodnant is a well-known tourist destination in North Wales but somewhat less well-known further south. However, it really deserves a greater presence on the tourist trail, as it really is a wonderful place.
A brief history of Bodnant Garden
The brainchild of the second Baron Aberconwy, Henry McLaren, the Garden was given to the National Trust in 1949 and includes a grand formal terrace, which faces across to River Conwy to Snowdonia; the Pin Mill, a Georgian building which was moved, stone by stone, from Gloucestershire to Bodnant in 1939; and the famous Laburnum Arch, which curves for 55 metres and which, when flowering, provides a long canopy of laburnum: an opulent river of gold above one’s head. There are many other sights to behold, not least the staggering array of plants and trees, some of which are classed as champions.
The Garden is open 362 days a year, excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. There are two restaurants, the Pavilion and Magnolia tearooms, plus refreshment kiosks in The Dell and The Far End. Picnics are also welcome. The garden offers a year-round programme of events including walks and talks, workshops and family activities.
The Garden is wheelchair friendly in most places, but don’t be fooled by the gently sloping paths: the shortest walk took a good hour and a half. You don’t need to be physically fit to undertake the walks, but you will feel it the next day (pictures of our walk can be found in our Flickr album). And whilst the Garden is owned and maintained by the National Trust, the house is not, and isn’t accessible to the public.
Increasingly, we want our furry friends to be able to join us on our adventures. Bodnant caters to that need, but only at certain times of the year. The Gardens are trying to figure out how best to accommodate everyone’s requirements: those who wish for a dog-free day, and those who want their pet to accompany them. This has manifested itself in a diary with scheduled breaks when dogs aren’t allowed in the grounds.
From the beginning of May right through until the end of August you’ll be able to bring your dog in on Wednesday evenings from 5pm, and that takes into account their later opening times. Then there’s a gap until 1st November, and after that dogs are welcomed every day throughout the winter. The Gardens are obviously aware that this might be an issue for some, and have included details of a local kennel that dog (and cat!) sit by the hour.Bodnant Gardens opening times can be located via the National Trust website, as too the price of admission, which varies depending on age, season and National Trust membership. The price can get a little steep if you’re a large group, but it is absolutely worth a visit, particularly if the Laburnum Arch is in bloom, which seems to be one of the main draws. The Gardens also play host to a shop and garden centre, from which you can purchase National Trust paraphernalia and some of the plants you’ll have seen on your trip.
The result of our trip was a nice little suntan, and the smug satisfaction in being able to correctly identify False Forget-Me-Nots (Brunnera macrophylla, don’t you know) whilst on a dog walk. Small things, but important: like walking in the sunshine, and appreciating the flowers.
Bodnant Gardens, Tal-y-Cafn, near Colwyn Bay, Conwy, LL28 5RE
Tel: 01492 650460
- By cycle: Cycle route information
- By bus: The number 25 bus from Llandudno stops outside the main gate.
- By train: Llandudno Junction
- By road: off A470. Signposted from A55, junction 19
- Parking: 150 yards from main entrance