Teamwork! Bodnant Garden's award for five-year renovation project

Gardeners accepting award certificate

Bodnant Garden has achieved a national award for a major renovation project which brought 10 hidden acres back to life - and to the public – after 140 years.

The garden team has won the Horticulture Week magazine’s Custodian Award for Best Garden Restoration/Development Project.

It was awarded for the transformation of The Far End – a lakeside garden and arboretum restored over the course of five years by gardeners and volunteers who battled through flooding and storms to open it to the public in spring 2015.

Bodnant Garden property manager William Greenwood says: “The Far End is the biggest renovation and conservation project we’ve ever undertaken at Bodnant Garden. This award is a fantastic tribute to the garden team and volunteers who worked so hard to restore this beautiful, historic area for the visitors who are now enjoying it, and for future generations.”

Five generations

Bodnant Garden is an 80 acre garden founded in 1874 by Victorian industrialist Henry Pochin and developed over 140 years by five generations his descendants, the McLaren family, who donated it to the National Trust in 1949.

The Far End is one of the oldest parts of the garden, originally laid out by Henry Pochin who envisaged it as The 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, who diverted the River Hiraethlyn to create the Skating Pond, built the Boat House and planted the Arboretum of native and exotic trees. It was loved by the family as a place for boating, fishing and picnics but fell into disuse over the years.

The Skating Pond and Boathouse at the Far End, Bodnant Garden, home to many American conifers and broad-leaved trees from Asia.
Reflections of autumn trees on the lake at the Far End, Bodnant Garden

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.

Haven for wildlife

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.”

“It’s now a perfect place for birdwatching, photography and special guided walks. It’s also a great place for families during school holiday times where children can also enjoy den building, pond dipping and bug hunting.

“People have flocked to see the new area and absolutely love it, judging by the comments and by the garden’s visitor numbers, which reached a record level of 230,000 last year.”

The Far End is the latest private area of Bodnant Garden to be opened to the public following the Old Park wildflower meadow in 2013 and the Yew Dell in 2014. In 2016 the garden is opening Furnace Hill, 20 acres of woodland and meadow. 

The garden team who restored the Far End at Bodnant Garden
The garden team who restored the Far End at Bodnant Garden