Bringing a new splash of colour to The Bath

Tropical plants around the poolside of the Bath at Bodnant Garden

We've finished an ambitious, exotic renovation of the Bath. Tropical plants are now a blaze of colourful foliage and flowers and to complete the transformation gardeners are introducing a new family of goldfish back to the ornamental pool.

Our garden team – swapping their normal khaki and black for Hawaiian shirts - will be introducing goldfish back into the pond on Wednesday, August 31. We're inviting visitors to come along and cheer them (and the fish) on, to celebrate the completion of this two-year restoration work.

The Bath is an oval, terracotta-tiled pool lying just below the Front Lawn of Bodnant Hall, tucked away behind high sheltering walls and hedges. It was created by Henry Pochin, who founded Bodnant Garden when he bought the hillside estate in 1874. 

Pochin’s grandson Henry McLaren added the encircling walls of the Bath in the early 1900s when he built the nearby Italianate terraces and it’s thought that the donor family used to take dips here. Over the years the area has been known as the Bathing Pool and the Goldfish Pond and was once home to Koi Carp.

Storm damage

In recent years there have been ideas to refresh the ageing, shrubby poolside planting and storms of Christmas 2013 gave the revamp a new impetus when a large 200-year-old oak tree came down, damaging walls and ripping up beds.

In New Year 2014 the garden team began repairing surrounding beds and this spring work began on the Bath area itself. Walls have been repaired, old plants have been removed, soil improved and a new scheme planted. Most dramatically, a tall hedge which hid the Bath from the upper lawns has been removed, giving visitors a new vista down into the garden. Following frequent requests from visitors goldfish will be returned to the pool, completing the renovation.

The Bath at Bodnant Garden, a Victorian ornamental pond, renovated and transformed into an exotic poolside garden
Colourful tropical plants surround the newly renovated poolside garden of The Bath at Bodnant Garden

Garden supervisor Bill Warrell who led the project, says: “We came up with the idea of turning the Bath into a miniature exotic paradise, filled with lush foliage and brightly coloured flowers. We wanted to create something fun and colourful that was a little different to the rest of the garden, also reflecting the Bath’s history. I love bright colours and bold foliage and the Bath’s sheltered microclimate offered us an ideal opportunity for a little experimentation.

"Tree ferns, bamboo, bananas, dahlias and cannas are just some of the many plants we’ve used, with the scheme planned to be at its best from July until the first frosts, peaking in September. We’re really pleased with the results - and hope visitors will be too.”

Finishing touch

Bodnant Garden General Manager William Greenwood adds: “There used to be fish in the pool many years ago and it will be the finishing touch to see them back, darting and glinting in the water, completing this wonderful garden transformation.

“This final Wednesday of the holidays we hope visitors can join the garden team putting goldfish back. It’s a historic moment – also an exotic new start for this area. Gardeners will be wearing Hawaiian shirts in the spirit of the occasion so why not join them? Come along at 12 noon and join the pool party.”

Gardeners who have renovated The Bath at Bodnant Garden: Harvey Baker, Graeme Jones, Roger Chesters, supervisor Bill Warrell (kneeling) and Lynne Clifton.
The garden team standing beside renovated pond and garden of The Bath at Bodnant Garden