Taking the plunge with a new poolside garden

Plants surrounding the oval pool called the Bath at Bodnant Garden

Gardeners have just begun exciting renovation work on one of the oldest features of Bodnant Garden - the Bath - an old pool which is being redesigned as a miniature exotic oasis.

The oval pool, dating back to Victorian period, lies just below the Front Lawn of Bodnant Hall, tucked away behind high sheltering walls and hedges.

Gardeners are replacing ageing, shrubby planting with a new scheme of lush foliage and brightly coloured flowers which can take advantage of this sheltered microclimate. It's the finale of two years of renovation in the area, following devastating winter storms of 2013.

A grand design

The Bath was created by Henry Pochin, who founded Bodnant Garden when he bought the estate in 1874. Pochin laid out the upper East Garden in formal Victorian style, with lawns intersected by paths, stone steps and balustrades and a terrace linking the house to the garden.

As part of Pochin’s grand design, water was channelled from the top of the garden into the Bath and via a stream leading down through The Rockery to The Dell in the valley garden. The surrounding walls of the Bath were added in the early 1900s when nearby Italianate terraces were built.

It’s thought the donor family used to take dips in the Bath - judging by the terracotta tiled walls and steps leading into the water. Later, there have been attempts to keep Koi Carp in the pool, which fell victim to otters, and today the only bathers here are a young colony of water lilies.

Renovation plans

In recent years there have been ideas to refresh the poolside planting, which was predominantly mature shrubs including rhododendrons. Storms of Christmas 2013 gave the revamp a new impetus when an old oak tree came down, damaging walls and ripping up beds.

In 2014 and 2015 the garden team repaired and replanted nearby beds and laid a new section of lawn where the oak tree once stood. This spring work begins on the Bath area itself. In the coming weeks we’ll be carrying out repairs to the walls, reducing the height of the hedge and improving the soil. Planting will take place around the middle of May.

" "Tree ferns, bamboo, bananas, dahlias and cannas are just some of the plants we’ll be using, planned to look great from July until the first frosts. Come back and see how we’re getting on in the summer.”"
- Bill Warrell, garden supervisor, Bodnant Garden

For more on the history and renovation of the Bath see our Bodnant Garden Blog at https://bodnantgarden.wordpress.com/