Out There: Garden of sheer delight

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There are some gardens that look amazing at any time of year.

One such garden is Bodnant near Colwyn Bay in North Wales.

It was grey, wet and particularly windy when I visited Bodnant with my husband Mark (Sparky) on Sunday.

Not a promising start, but little did we know what delights lay in store at the National Trust property.

As usual, Sparky had to be coaxed and then dragged out of his car to see the garden.

“It’s always raining when we visit gardens,” he bleated.

But he soon changed his tune.

When we walked through the main gate and caught our first glimpse of the house and garden we were over-awed.

Majestic Bodnant House towered above terrace after terrace leading down to a magical woodland dell. In the far distance we could see the brooding mountains of Snowdonia and a thundering river that had burst its banks.

The garden itself was an oasis of calm. Huge trees, many of them planted as far back as the 1790s, sheltered the garden and we spotted a beautiful red kite circling overhead in search of prey.

Bodnant is essentially a garden of two halves – the upper garden with its Italianate terraces, rose gardens, formal beds, ponds and lawns, and the lower dell where the River Hiraethlyn flows through a splendid pinetum and romantic wild garden.

On our visit, every area had a charm of its own and I particularly enjoyed looking at the rare rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and other woodland plants.

Even Sparky had to admit that the garden was endlessly appealing.

Delicate and tiny spring flowers such as snowdrops, crocus and irises were putting on a colourful show and almost every plant appeared to be in bud. The promise of an abundant spring to come. Bodnant is also famous for its vast laburnum arch, planted in 1882, which flowers spectacularly in May and June. That’s something I’d love to see.

The garden is clearly well worth a visit at any time of year and it’s only two hours from the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

We stayed the night at the rather wonderful Winchmore Hotel in Llandudno during our trip. Situated on Llandudno’s Regency seafront, the hotel had sublime views of the sea, the dramatic headlands of the Great Orme and the Little Orme. I can highly recommend this hotel as it was friendly, recently refurbished, centrally located and extremely comfortable.

For further information on Bodnant Garden go to www.bodnant@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01492 650 460. For the Winchmore Hotel go online or call 01492 877 458.