Welcome to Furnace Wood and Meadow

Furnace Wood and Meadow, Bodnant Garden

At Easter 2017, broadcaster and naturalist Iolo Williams joined us at a celebration day to unveil 20 acres of Bodnant Garden; a woodland of native and exotic trees and a wildflower-rich meadow which had never before been seen by the public. Five years after first opening to the public, Furnace now finds itself at the centre of another epic restoration project, and is currently closed to visitors.

Furnace Wood and Meadow lie alongside the west bank of the River Hiraethlyn in the valley garden of Bodnant. Once a hillside dotted with native trees, it was transformed from the 1870s under Bodnant Garden’s owner Henry Pochin and his daughter Laura McLaren, who planted North American conifers. Laura’s son Henry added many Asian rhododendrons and magnolias from the early 1900s.

Lying on the fringes of the estate, Furnace remained a private area for many decades. Unvisited, it fell into decline and in 2007 the killer plant disease Phytophthora ramorum was discovered in the woodland. This triggered the beginning of a decade-long effort by gardeners and volunteers working to rescue the area from decay... which became a project to open up the area to the public.

New life

While some trees and shrubs had to be felled, the work opened up old paths, new vistas and has allowed other plants to thrive again, among them many mature Asian magnolias and rhododendrons brought to Bodnant Garden in the early 20h century. The project also led to the ambitious restoration of the Penjerrick Walk, an avenue of rare rhododendrons originally planted by Henry McLaren, 2nd Lord Aberconway, from the 1920s.

While Furnace Wood is a haven for horticulture, Furnace Meadow is a haven for wildlife. The garden team manage this grassland in a traditional way to promote the rich diversity of species found there. In July 2018 our team's hard work was rewarded by a national award from the industry's prestigious Horticulture Week magazine, the third such accolade in three years running for Bodnant Garden.

Storm Arwen

Sadly, in autumn 2021 Storm Arwen devastated parts of Furnace hillside, felling Champion trees, old and rare magnolias and rhododendrons and leaving a swathe of damage to the historic landscape.

The hillside is currently closed to visitors as we work to clear storm debris. We hope to complete this first stage of work by summer 2022 and re-open paths to visitors; a longer project of replanting and restoration will go on for years to come. It's been a tough time for the team and there are challenges ahead, but the work is underway.

Thanks for your patience and support. We look forward to welcoming you back to Furnace Wood as soon as possible and you can help to rebuild this beautiful part of Bodnant Garden for future generations by donating to the National Trust Woodlands Appeal

Michael McLaren, Bodnant Garden Director, arborist Richard Clifton and Iolo Williams at the opening of Furnace Wood and Meadow
Michael McLaren, Bodnant Garden Director, arborist Richard Clifton and Iolo Williams at the opening of Furnace Wood and Meadow
Michael McLaren, Bodnant Garden Director, arborist Richard Clifton and Iolo Williams at the opening of Furnace Wood and Meadow