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Things to see at Bodnant Garden

Visitors standing on a bridge overlooking running water near the Old Mill at Bodnant Garden, surrounded by trees in green leaf and flowering bushes
Visitors on the bridge at Bodnant Garden | © National Trust Images/Rod Kirkpatrick

A great garden offers something to enjoy during every season and Grade I listed Bodnant has 80 acres of formal gardens, woodland and panoramic mountain views to stir your senses. Find a walk that's suitable for you, and admire the beauty of the colourful planting schemes.

Blossom at Bodnant Garden

From the first golden glow of the daffodils and the bright pinks of magnolias in early March to the carpets of bluebells and yellow tendrils of laburnum in May and June, spring at Bodnant Garden in the perfect time to enjoy beautiful blossom.

With the spectacle of acres of ornamental cherry blossom and the scent of other flowering trees and shrubs throughout the garden during spring, it’s a time to enjoy being outdoors again after the shorter, colder days of winter.

First signs of spring

Camellias are among the first shrubs to flower in late winter and early spring. Introduced in the early 1900s and are widely planted throughout the garden. Camellia x williamsii ‘Charles Puddle’ is named after the former head gardener of Bodnant who founded the International Camellia Society. Camellia japonica ‘Akashigata’ (formerly known as ‘Lady Claire’) is a Bodnant signature plant that can be seen on the streamside bank behind the Pin Mill.

Bodnant Garden in Bloom

The appearance of blossom is a sure sign that spring has arrived and there are many different varieties to spot around Bodnant Garden this season. How many will you find?

Vivid blue petals of the Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis) with yellow centres, furry leaves.
Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis) at Bodnant Garden | © National Trust Images/Rod Kirkpatrick

Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis) - peak flowering May

Vivid blue petals with yellow centres, furry leaves, Himalayan Poppies can be seen in clusters in the Poppy Garden near the Pin Mill, and along the Primula Walk in the North Garden.

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Magnificent magnolias

Camellias are closely followed by the garden’s large collection of magnolias, which date back over 100 years. The first of these, the Magnolia campbelli on the Terraces, begin to flower in March (sometimes as early as February) and a host of different varieties continue to flower right through to June.

One of many other magnolias to see around the garden is the Magnolia denudata, the official flower of Shanghai. This deciduous magnolia has been cultivated in Chinese Buddhist temple gardens since 600 AD. The stunning pure white chalice shaped flowers in mild years start flowering in late March. They are planted on mass around the edges of the Tennis Lawn.

Rhododendrons and azaleas

Bodnant Garden’s National Collection of rhododendrons light up almost every area with their dazzling colour from March to June. It’s said there's a rhododendron in bloom every month of the year here, but they reach a peak in April and May. The garden is especially famous for its Asian rhododendrons, including unique hybrids bred at the garden from the 1920s.

One of the most famous examples of a successful Bodnant hybrids is Rhododendron ‘Elizabeth’ named after Henry’s eldest child, which is still one of the most popular rhododendrons in the UK.

The azaleas come into flower between April and June, bringing with them spectacular colours in the East Garden. Many of the varieties found at Bodnant Garden were originally cultivated in Japan hundreds of years ago. They were first introduced to the UK in the early 20th century.

150 years of Bodnant over image of Lily Terrace and Hall at Bodnant Garden
Bodnant Garden - 150 years | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Bodnant Garden - 150 years

This year, Bodnant Garden celebrates 150 years since it was bought at auction by Victorian industrialist Henry Davis Pochin and his wife in 1874. At the time, Bodnod as it was then known, was an estate with a walled garden, woods and plantations. It was Pochin's grand vision which shaped and led to the Grade 1 listed garden that we see today.

2024 also marks 75 years since Bodnant Garden was gifted to the National Trust by Henry McLaren, Lord Aberconway. In 1948 he persuaded the National Trust to accept gardens on their own merit into the fold of the charity, Bodnant being only the second admitted in 1949, after Hidcote.

A year to celebrate

Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing more on the history of the garden and the people who played their own part in the creation and development of what we see here today. From the family’s first vision through to the development and hybridisation of Bodnant Rhododendrons with head gardeners, and the work the garden team continues today - we’re delighted to be sharing more throughout the year.

From early March, the Old Mill down in the Dell will be open for visitors and will feature a display of information and archive photographs from the last 150 years of the garden. Keep an eye on our social channels during 2024 for more information and events to help us celebrate this commemorative year for Bodnant Garden.

Daffodils in the Old Park

Nothing signals the start of spring quite like the daffodil, and at Bodnant Garden, the main display comes in March and April when the Old Park meadow and grassy Glades are transformed into a carpet of yellow as far as the eye can see. Acres of common Narsicuss pseudonarcissus and their varieties, which were planted on mass here from the 1920s and 1930s

From April, watch the herbaceous beds and borders coming to life in the formal upper garden, with displays on the Tennis Lawn, the Canal Borders and Round Garden; colourful bulb displays in the Range, Parterre and Bath Garden.

Spring on the Terraces

In May the garden reaches a riot of colour and scent with wisteria and clematis on the Terraces, stunning alliums on The Range and Canal Terrace and the bright blue Meconopsis in the Himalayan Poppy Beds near the Pin Mill.

The Laburnum Arch with its distinctive yellow flowers in early June at Bodnant Garden, in North Wales
The Laburnum Arch in early June at Bodnant Garden | © National Trust Images / Joe Wainwright

The Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden

In late May, the crowning glory of spring is the blossoming of the Laburnum Arch. The Arch is a pergola walkway of golden flowers which glow for three weeks in late May and early June. At over 140 years old, it's believed to be the oldest and longest flowering arch in the UK and provides a dazzling finale to the spring  season. 

Late spring highlights

Other late spring showstoppers are the Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Firebush), with its flame-coloured flowers, and the Chinese Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree), with unusual papery white bracts; both can be seen in the Glades in late May, early June.

A garden of firsts and National Collections

Cared for by the National Trust since 1949, Bodnant is a garden of firsts. Home to the earliest and grandest laburnum arch completed in around 1880, and to some of Britain’s earliest magnolias introduced from China in the late 1800s. It’s said there's a rhododendron in bloom every month of the year here, but they reach a peak in April and May.

The garden is especially famous for its Asian rhododendrons, including unique hybrids bred at the garden from the 1920s. Many of these unique varieties can still be seen in the garden today. Bodnant Garden is also home to five National Collections – Rhododendron forrestii, magnolias, embothriums (Chilean fire bush), eucryphias and Bodnant Hybrid rhododendrons.

The Terraces at Bodnant Garden

Bodnant Garden is famed as the finest rose garden in Wales with its five formal Italianate terraces, designed and built in the new Arts and Crafts style between 1904 and 1914. Home to many established varieties of roses, including many of the David Austin varieties, it comes alive with colour and perfume from June until late September.

Picturesque ponds

Two of the terraces are recognised for their picturesque ponds, which are home to water lilies and a variety of wildlife. The borders on each of the terraces are planted with careful consideration of the surrounding environment and are in keeping with the year of their creation. Each of the five terraces was intended to be a revelation as you descend to the next.

The East Garden

The Laburnum Arch

The golden blooms of the Laburnum Arch attract thousands of visitors to the garden in late May and early June each year. The arch flowers for between 10 to 14 days each year. The arch is the only one of its kind in the country which is curved, following the wall which runs alongside.

The Winter and Round Gardens

The Round Garden, with its 18th century water fountain, provides interest through the spring and summer with its four quadrants and new planting scheme. Structural forms and seed heads offer interest through the autumn and winter months.

The Winter Garden, located just before the top gate to the Old Park Meadow, is a maze of pathways that take you through a variety of cornus, skimmia, cyclamen, iris and daphne. Coming alive in the winter months as its name suggests, it provides interest and a tranquil spot to sit.

The Shrub Borders

Providing the first hints of the surprises that await down in The Dell, the Shrub Borders are home to camellias and tree magnolias and some of the famous blood-red Bodnant hybrid rhododendrons. Behind the Pin Mill, a path leads down, past banks of camellias and rhododendrons to a stream-fed rockery that comes alive with giant Himalayan lilies, ferns and hostas in late spring and early summer.

The Glades

Separating the Shrub Borders and the Dell, the Glades are a good area for daffodils in the spring, and the bluebells that follow hot on their heels. Fiery shades of red and amber burst through during the autumn months. Trees from all over the world, including cornus, prunus, liquidambar and paulownia provide year-long interest with the acers lighting up the arboretum from September to November.

Flowing water of the river Hiraethlyn at Bodnant Garden
The Hiraethlyn river flowing through Bodnant Garden | © National Trust Images/Iolo Penri

Walks and wildflowers

Down to the Dell

The rich soil and moist atmosphere of the Dell suit the larger-leaved rhododendrons. Discover the Waterfall Bridge, with its vertical torrent of water on one side, and the calm, reflective pool on the other. Home to wildlife including kingfishers, dippers, heron and ducks. Further upstream you’ll find the Skating Pond and Boathouse, with weeping willows, swamp cypress and azaleas that signal the start of spring with vibrant colours.

Furnace Hill

This area of the garden offers fine views back towards the house and terraces as well as across to the Conwy River. Penjerrick Walk, along the top of Furnace Hill, comes alive in spring with a variety of rhododendron which include amongst others Augustinii, Penjerrick and ‘Reve d’amour’. Discover Lady Anglesey’s Seat and sit for a while to enjoy the view across to the house and terraces.

Wildflower meadows

Bodnant Garden has two wildflower meadows. The Old Park Meadow dates to the Georgian era and is now home to daffodils in early spring with wildflowers as far as the eye can see appearing throughout May and June. During winter, sheep graze in the Old Park up to Christmas. Furnace Meadow lies on the southern hillside, overlooking the riverside garden and is a peaceful spot to take a moment to enjoy nature, no matter the season.

Close up of the magnolia blossom in spring at Bodnant Garden, North 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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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.

A Yorkshire Terrier walking down a path lined with daffodils at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire

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.

Pink rhododendron blossom in the spring at Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Bodnant Garden's botanical collections 

Explore the many exotic and rare plants and trees at Bodnant Garden, including five National Collections, as well as Wales’s largest collection of UK Champion Trees.

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.

A black and white image showing Henry Pochin surrounded by people including his Head Gardener, planting a tree in the garden at Bodnant in around 1885.

The people of Bodnant Garden 

The garden at Bodnant is the work of generations, starting with the Pochin family and their move from Manchester. Learn about the people who made Bodnant into what we see today.