Welcome to Furnace Wood and Meadow
At Easter 2017, broadcaster and naturalist Iolo Williams joined us at a celebration day to unveil 20 acres; a woodland of native and exotic trees and a wildflower-rich meadow which had never before been seen by the public.
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.
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.
Today, while the plants, views and seclusion of Furnace Wood delight lovers of horticulture, nearby Furnace Meadow is a haven for wildlife lovers. The garden team manage this grassland in a traditional way to promote the rich diversity of species which have been found there.
In July 2018 our team's hard work was rewarded by a national award from the prestigious Horticulture Week magazine, the third such accolade in three years running for Bodnant Garden. We couldn't have undertaken this massive conservation project without the support of visitors and members whose pennies have paid for it all. Furnace Wood and Meadow is now all yours to enjoy - For Everyone, For Ever.
" 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."