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Bodnant Garden's botanical collections

Pink rhododendron blossom in the spring at Bodnant Garden, Conwy
A pink rhododendron in flower at Bodnant Garden | © ©National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Bodnant Garden is home to exotic plants from the Blue Poppy of the Himalayas to the Fire Bush of the Andes, as well as five National Collections – Magnolia, Embothrium, Eucryphia, Rhododendron forrestii and Bodnant Rhododendron Hybrids. It also boasts Wales’s largest collection of UK Champion Trees, which provide a year-round spectacle.

A view taken of the Dell at Bodnant Garden, North Wales with a pathway stretching ahead and a stream to the left surrounded by greenery and tall trees
The Dell at Bodnant Garden, North Wales | © National Trust Images/Joe Wainwright

National Collections at Bodnant Garden

Bodnant Garden’s National Collections of magnolias and rhododendrons light up the garden with colour from March to June, many of which were brought to Bodnant by famous plant collectors at the turn of the 20th century.


Rhododendrons are wild shrubs native to South-East Asia. They were first introduced to Bodnant Garden around the turn of the 1900s, many grown from original seed collected by plant collectors including Ernest Wilson and George Forrest during expeditions in central China.

Bodnant's owner Henry Duncan McLaren (2nd Lord Aberconway) sponsored many of these botanical expeditions which brought an influx of new and exciting plants to the garden where they flourished in the temperate climate, acidic soil, and unique topography. Here they have grown freely, producing some of the largest plants in the western hemisphere.

Bodnant hybrids

Henry McLaren and his head gardener Frederick Puddle went on to hybridise some of these rhododendrons from the 1920s. They aimed to create varieties that were more compact for gardens, more richly coloured and with a longer flowering season. They include Rhododendron 'Elizabeth' a compact plant with vibrant pink flowers – the most famous of all the Bodnant hybrids and one that is today found in many domestic gardens.

National Collection status at Bodnant

This special group was awarded National Collection status in 2015: Rhododendrons Bred at Bodnant Garden 1927-1983. Of the original 300 hybrids only around 185 are still known to exist in the garden, but our garden team are actively looking to identify 'lost' varieties and propagating those under threat to ensure the future of our collection for many more years to come.

Pink rhododendrons in the garden at Bodnant with 150 years text
Celebrating rhododendrons at Bodnant Garden, Conwy | © National Trust images/Annapurna Mellor

Celebrating rhododendrons at Bodnant Garden

In 2024, Bodnant Garden celebrates 150 years since it was bought at auction in 1874 by Victorian industrialist Henry Davis Pochin and his wife. This year also marks 75 years since the garden was gifted to the National Trust by Henry McLaren, The 2nd Lord Aberconway.

Bodnant Garden’s collection of rhododendrons and the Bodnant hybrids will be celebrated throughout the garden, with new information located alongside many notable examples of the plants. Discover more about the parent plants to many of the Bodnant hybrids as you enjoy them in flower throughout this special year.

There will also be a display in the Old Mill down in the Dell, which shares information on the people who helped build these collections throughout the garden’s history.

Champion Trees at Bodnant Garden

A recent survey by The Tree Register found that the garden is home to around 40 UK Champion Trees – the best examples of their kind – and 130 Welsh Champion Trees.

The story of Bodnant Garden’s trees goes back to the Georgian era when the first beeches were introduced - at that time not a common tree in Wales. They were planted along with oaks, sycamores and chestnuts as part of the first landscaping around Bodnant Hall in the late 1700s.

A home to exotics

The next and biggest phase of tree planting came in Victorian times under Henry Pochin, who bought the Bodnant estate in 1874. Pochin developed the pinetum in the valley garden, planting American and Asian conifers along the banks of the River Hiraethlyn.

In Bodnant’s waterside dells these new trees thrived; sheltered against the elements and reaching up for light. The Champions here include the 35m Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’ (Giant Sequoia) planted in 1890 and Sciadopitys verticillata (Japanese Umbrella Pine) thought to originate from a single plant bought to Britain by Thomas Lobb in 1853, now standing at 20m.

Another wave of tree planting continued in the early 1900s under Pochin’s daughter Laura McLaren and grandson Henry McLaren, who added Asian broad-leaved trees throughout the garden including many magnolias, acers and flowering cherries from China and Japan.

A colourful collection

You'll find a number of Champions in the Glades including a Sorbus meliosmifolia and Acer mandshuricum (Manchurian maple) both rare in Britain, grown from seed collected by plant collector Ernest Wilson in the Edwardian period.

Our collection includes many conifers and evergreens, spring-flowering trees and others with blazing autumn leaf colour, providing a year-round spectacle.

Lilies in summer at Bodnant Garden, Colwyn Bay, Wales

Discover more at Bodnant Garden

Find out when Bodnant Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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House with autumn trees around it reflected in lily pond in foreground.

History of Bodnant Garden 

Discover how a 'dwelling by a stream' in Snowdonia's foothills grew into a global horticultural haven thanks to generations of the McLaren family and Puddle head gardeners.

The Lower Rose Terrace at Bodnant Garden, North Wales, photographed in early June. Beyond is the Canal Terrace with its lake and the Pin Mill. Planting includes roses and Alliums.

Things to see at Bodnant Garden 

Visit a world-class garden in Wales at Bodnant Garden and enjoy 80 acres of formal gardens, woodland and meadows and botanical collections from around the globe.

Enjoying a walk around the grounds

Visiting Bodnant Garden with your dog 

With 80 acres to explore, there’s a walk to suit everyone. From 1 April to the end of September, dogs are welcome on short leads (not extendable) every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Find out more about bringing your dog to Bodnant Garden here.

Two visitors sat eating sandwiches outside the cafe at Gibside Tyne & Wear.

Eating at Bodnant Garden 

Enjoy delicious refreshments at Bodnant Garden’s tea-rooms all year round or from the riverside kiosk down in The Dell.