Bodnant’s hidden Himalayan gem

New 3.5 acre area of this North Wales garden opens for first time in 140-years

Part of a well-known National Trust garden, which has been hidden from public view for more than a century, will open to visitors for the first time this weekend.

Named after the many yew trees that grow there, the Yew Dell at Bodnant Garden, near Conwy, is a wooded area with a stream running through it, which is full of many old, rare rhododendrons and reminiscent of a Himalayan glade.

Its opening marks the first phase of a major renovation project which aims to open up an additional 38 acres of this special garden over the next three years.  Visitors will be able to come along and see the work in progress – and even get their hands dirty helping the gardeners.

The newly opened Yew Dell at Bodnant in North Wales. Credit National Trust

The newly opened Yew Dell at Bodnant in North Wales. Credit National Trust

Bill Warrell, who is overseeing the opening up of the new area, says: “The Yew Dell is a beautiful and uniquely atmospheric part of the garden. With mature rhododendrons and hydrangeas overhung by oak, ash and magnolia, it has a secluded, lush atmosphere.

“We hope that, over the next couple of years, visitors will enjoy watching the transformation taking place and even get involved themselves by taking part in volunteer days and special events.”

The 3.5 acres of the Yew Dell were originally laid out from the 1870s by Bodnant Garden’s creator Henry Pochin.  He was inspired by leading Victorian designer William Robinson who recommended mixing exotic and native plants suited to climate and terrain rather than to a particular horticultural style.

Today the Yew Dell is home to many old rhododendrons grown from seed collected by famous plant hunters George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward during their Asian travels in the early 1900s, and also many rare Bodnant hybrid rhododendrons, bred at the garden over the last century.

The area has remained untouched apart from basic management for many years, but during the last two years gardeners have been weeding, cutting back brambles, renovating shrubs and trees, as well as repairing paths and drains.

Bill continues: “After some hard work to make the area safe and accessible it is now ready to welcome the public – but there’s plenty more to do yet.

“During the renovation work new plants will be added, including hydrangea, euonymus and acer to extend interest into autumn. The rhododendron collection will also be expanded, as more Bodnant hybrids are planted.”

The opening of the Yew Dell is the first phase in a transformation of the lower garden at Bodnant.  It will be followed in 2015 by another private riverside area known as the Skating Pond, and in 2017 by Furnace Wood.

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