A century of roses at Bodnant Garden

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Bodnant Garden, near Conwy,  is marking the centenary of its grand terraces, famous for their rose gardens, lily pools and mountain views.

The famous terraces were completed just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Events planned in celebration and remembrance include a guided rose walk with one of the gardeners in June, a special tour with one of the UK's leading rose experts in July, and in August a special rose planting to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War.

Gardener Fran Llewellyn said: '1914 marked probably the biggest achievement at Bodnant with the completion of the terraces. They are testament to the vision of the garden's founder family, and to the men who built them, some of whom went away to fight and never came back. The fact that roses are still blooming on our beautiful terraces, and visitors from all over the world come to see them, is a lasting tribute.'

Bodnant Garden is world famous for its five Italianate terraces which were built by the garden's owner, Henry McLaren in the years between 1904 and 1914. He completely re-sculpted the grassed hillside overlooking the Snowdonia mountain range creating a top rose terrace, lawned croquet terrace, lily terrace with pond, lower rose terrace with pergola walkways and canal terrace with its now iconic canal pond and pin mill.

Building the terraces

Creating Bodnant's terraces was a grand earth and stone-moving project all done by hand by men with wheelbarrows. It's estimated that the work done by 50 labourers in an hour in 1914 equates to one skilled labourer using machinery in 1966. Granite was quarried from the surrounding estate to build great buttressed walls which supported the earthed up levels and provided shelter for tender and exotic new plants being introduced to the garden from abroad, such as Chinese magnolias.


In recent years the two rose terraces have been completely renovated. The top rose terrace was renovated in 2006 and the lower rose terrace in 2012. Gardeners had to dig out and replace around 500 tonnes of soil from both terraces; paths were re-laid and pergolas repainted. The beds were then planted with fragrant English roses, many from the award-winning David Austin collection, which provide a continuous display from June to October.

Bodnant's Acting Head Gardener Adam Salvin added: 'Developing the rose beds has been a top priority in recent years and has taken a lot of time, skill and dedication by our gardeners. I'm proud to say we now have one of the finest rose gardens in Wales.'