The Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden: A highlight of spring

The golden laburnum arch at Bodnant

One of the highlights of spring at Bodnant Garden is the flowering of our famous Laburnum Arch.

The 55 metre-long flowering feature was created by the garden’s Victorian founder Henry Pochin in 1880. He employed Edward Milner, apprentice to Joseph Paxton, to help design the formal garden around Bodnant Hall, including a Laburnum Arch based on pergola walkways of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed to be the longest and oldest in Britain.

More than 140 years later, the display of golden Laburnum flowers is the most visited, photographed and anticipated event of Bodnant Garden’s year, drawing around 50,000 visitors for three weeks at the end of May and beginning of June. 

This year however the arch burst into bloom on 15 May, the earliest we’ve seen it bloom in a decade following a record amount of sunshine in April and May.  

Although an earlier bloom, the noticeable difference under this year’s arch is the absence of visitors. It’ll be the first time we haven’t been able to welcome people to see this spectacle therefore we’re going to do our best to bring the arch to you – virtually.

For two weeks from 18 May we’ll be streaming ‘slow TV’ video from the arch on Facebook and Instagram, hosting a Twitter Q&A session with the Assistant Head Gardener and if technology allows, we’ll be live under the arch. The season will close with start-to-finish time-lapse footage showing how the arch changes over the course of its flowering.

Watch a time-lapse from bud to bloom 

As well as flowering earlier, this year the archway has also produced shorter racemes – the ‘droplets’ of yellow flowers. Although not obvious to the general eye, this year’s racemes are about several centimetres shorter than we would expect, probably due to a lack of rain over the past couple of weeks.

While the arch needs little or no tending while in bloom, our gardeners are continuing with essential tasks such as weeding and caring for plants in the glasshouse so that the garden will look its best when it reopens. 

When it’s safe to do so, we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the garden. It’s such a special place.

This year the archway has also produced shorter racemes
this year the archway has also produced shorter racemes
This year the archway has also produced shorter racemes

Garden in bloom

Another horticultural highlight of the garden at this time is the rhododendron collection, which dates back more than a century. It’s said there’s a rhododendron in flower every month of the year at Bodnant Garden, and they are at their peak in May.

Adding color to the palette is the scented blossom of viburnums, late flowering magnolias and many other shrubs and trees - including the famous ivory-petalled Handkerchief Tree and the flame-coloured Chilean Firebush - you can even see the first roses and water lilies beginning to open. Look out for Himalayan Blue Poppies and cerise Himalayan Primulas around the garden, as well as beds and borders bursting with late spring herbaceous displays. 

Tune in to 'slow TV'

" The Laburnum Arch is the jewel in the crown of our springtime at Bodnant Garden and something everybody should see at least once in a lifetime. We're all set, so watch this space!"
- William Greenwood, Property Manager at Bodnant Garden