Far End: Bodnant Garden's lakeside renovation

Reflections of autumn trees on the lake at the Far End, Bodnant Garden

Bodnant's award-winning lakeside renovation project brought ten hidden acres of the garden back to life - and to the public – after 140 years.

In 2016 our garden team won the Horticulture Week magazine’s Custodian Award 2016 for Best Garden Restoration/Development Project for the transformation of The Far End – a lakeside garden and arboretum. The area was restored over five years by gardeners and volunteers who battled through flooding and storms to open it to the public in spring 2015.

The Far End was originally laid out by Henry Pochin when he bought the Bodnant estate in 1874. He envisaged it as a Wild Garden in the style of Victorian garden designer William Robinson. The area was further developed by Pochin’s daughter Laura McLaren and grandson Henry Duncan McLaren at the turn of the 1900s, who diverted the River Hiraethlyn to create the Skating Pond, built the Boat House and planted the Arboretum of native and exotic trees. The area was loved by the family as a place for boating, fishing and picnics, but fell into disuse over the years.

Renovation begins

The 20th century brought a new lease of life for the Far End. Gardeners spent five years renovating beds and banks, repairing the boat house and creating a new circular walkway and bridge to give visitors a level route around the lake. The work wasn’t without setbacks. In winter 2011 and 2012 flooding devastated the area, washing away new plantings, damaging paths and leaving a trail of debris…but the garden team cleared up, started again and the area finally opened in March 2015.

Bodnant Garden's property manager William Greenwood says: “The Far End is quite different in character to other parts of the garden – unlike the formal Italianate Terraces or the dramatic Dell with its rushing river and waterfall – here the paths lead visitors to a small lake which is quiet, peaceful and full of wildlife. You might spot an otter or heron on the water’s edge.”