Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thur 28th Oct- Beautiful Bodnant Gardens

Bodnant Gardens, run by the National Trust, are one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK apparently, spread over 80 acres, they are situated on sloping ground above the River Conwy and looking across a valley towards the Snowdonia mountain range.

Bodnant Hall is the residence of Lord Aberconway. The house was built in 1792 and is not open to the public. The gardens were officially started in 1875 and are the creation of four generations of Aberconways.

The gardens have a variety of features, from formal ponds to magnificent woodlands and streams. The 55 meter long laburnum arch is the most famous feature of all and the most photographed sight in the garden. A mass of yellow blooms, it flowers in late May but as we were there in October I had to “steal” a photo to show you what it looks like.
The upper gardens consist of terraces, and both formal and informal lawns with plenty of mature trees that were mostly in their beautiful autumnal colours.

A Sphinx overlooks the Canal Terrace and the Pin Mill. The mill (circa 1730) was rescued from Gloucestershire in 1938 and was rebuilt at Bodnant.

The Pin Mill- I love the reflections in this photo but it was just my luck, these people appeared in my photo just as I clicked and I didn’t pick them up until after I downloaded the photo. I’ll have to do some photo shopping I think.

In spring the gardens are a mass of colour with hundreds of camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias flowering. The banks are covered in bluebells and spring flowering bulbs.

Of course we were there in autumn and while there weren’t the masses of flowers the autumn colours were spectacular. I’d love to be able to visit again in the spring though.

We carefully made our descent with Maddie and pushchair in tow via the longer winding path to the lower garden, a beautiful wooded valley of The Dell passing the family Mausoleum on the way. The Dell is a tranquil area with shaded walks by the side of the River Hiraetlyn, a tributary of the River Conwy.

The lower garden contains the wild garden, spring flowering bulbs, shrubs and the mill pond. The mill race leads to The Old Mill, pictured below. The 'race' was used to power the flour mill and a sawmill.

After pausing briefly at the Mill we then took the steeper path with its many switchbacks up the other side of the gardens and back onto the upper terraces. There were so many beautiful vistas to take in along with colourful trees. Past the herbaceous borders and the huge rose garden and we found our way back onto the front lawn (which was the size of a small paddock!)

If you ever in the area make sure you put Bodnant Gardens at the top of your must visit list, they truly are magnificent and well worth a visit.

This guy knows which side his bread is buttered, the shop cat ~

We stopped at the Pavillion (part of the estate) for afternoon tea, a bottle and nappy change for Maddie, then packed up the car and headed home after a great days sightseeing. Unfortunately we got stuck in a combined rush hour and car crash traffic jam just outside the village and it took over an hour to cover a couple of miles. By this time it was dark and Maddie was screaming the house down for her dinner. It’s hard to pacify a baby when you can’t take her out of the carseat and in the end I was feeling rather queasy from leaning over my seat into the back cooing, clucking and singing silly songs to amuse her. None of that worked either.

There is nowhere in the country lanes to pull over, you just have to go with the flow even when it is a snail's pace, once you’re stuck in a jam that’s it until either you get past the obstruction or you find yourself a rare side road that will lead you to where you want to go. Thankfully Sophie found one of those at last and while it meant a detour of 3 or 4 miles at least we were moving. Finally we made it home safe and sound, well safe anyway I'm not sure about the sound part! We were all a little frazzled, but nothing a couple of wines didn’t sort out. And then off to bed fairly early, tomorrow we were travelling to London by train ready to catch our flight home.

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