Welcome to Furnace Wood and Meadow

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, and naturalist Iolo Williams at the opening of Furnace Wood and Meadow, Bodnant Garden

This Easter you're invited to explore a new area of Bodnant Garden - Furnace Wood and Meadow.

On April 11, broadcaster and naturalist Iolo Williams and the Director General of the National Trust, Dame Helen Ghosh, joined us to unveil the 20 acres, a woodland of native and exotic trees and a wildflower-rich meadow which have never before been seen by the public. 

Furnace Hill lies alongside the west bank of the River Hiraethlyn in the valley garden. 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. For the last ten years gardeners have been working to rescue the area from decay and bring it back up to standard for opening to the public. This has included the restoration of the Penjerrick Walk, an avenue of rare rhododendrons originally planted by Henry McLaren, 2nd Lord Aberconway, from the 1920s.

Gardeners who have restored Furnace Wood and Meadow, Bodnant Garden
Gardeners who have restored Furnace Wood and Meadow, Bodnant Garden

While the plants, views and seclusion of Furnace Wood will delight lovers of horticulture, nearby Furnace Meadow is rich in wildlife. The garden team are managing this grassland in a traditional way to promote the rich diversity of species which have been found there.

Our special guests for the special opening were Iolo Williams, Dame Helen Ghosh, Justin Albert (National Trust Director for Wales), and Michael McLaren (Bodnant Garden Director, representing the donor family.) The opening ceremony - performed by one of our arborists cutting a log with a chainsaw - was followed by an afternoon of guided walks, woodcraft activities and daffodil planting for visitors.

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

Furnace Wood and Meadow is now all yours to enjoy - For Ever For Everyone - and we hope you'll come and explore this beautiful landscape. Please be aware that the area is on a hillside and access, via gravel paths, is steep in some places. There is a picnic area in the meadow and benches for seating throughout the wood, plus toilets and refreshment facilities near the Old Mill in the Dell.

Why not check out our Bird's Eye Bodnant Garden Trail for a self-guided walk: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden/trails/birds-eye-bodnant-garden-walk

" Furnace is a hidden gem and the opening is a high point in Bodnant Garden’s 143-year history. It's the biggest conservation project we've undertaken and the last significant piece of the jigsaw to be fitted into place. With 75 of our 80 acres now open, we are tantalisingly close to the day when visitors can enjoy the whole of this gardening masterpiece."
- John Rippin, Head Gardener of Bodnant Garden
Naturalist and broadcaster Iolo Williams
Naturalist and broadcaster Iolo Williams