Gardeners have completed an ambitious renovation project, transforming a historic Victorian poolside at Bodnant Garden into an exotic paradise.
The Bath, at the famous National Trust Wales site near Conwy, has been given a new lease of life as a home for tropical plants, which are now ablaze with lush foliage and brightly coloured flowers. In a grand finale to the conservation project, the garden team have introduced goldfish back into the ornamental pond.
Bodnant Garden General Manager William Greenwood says: “There used to be fish in the pool many years ago and it will be the finishing touch to see them back, darting and glinting in the water, completing this wonderful garden transformation.”
The oval, terracotta-tiled pool lies just below the Front Lawn of Bodnant Hall, tucked away behind high sheltering walls and hedges. Gardeners have replaced ageing, shrubby planting with a tropical 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 this area of the garden, which was damaged in winter storms of recent years.
The Bath was created by Henry Pochin, who founded Bodnant Garden when he bought the hillside estate in 1874. Pochin laid out his 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 his 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.
Pochin’s grandson Henry McLaren added the encircling walls of the Bath in the early 1900s when he built the nearby Italianate terraces. Archive photographs recently discovered at the garden show the poolside beds at that time included exotic plants such as yucca and cacti.
At one time called the Bathing Pool, it is thought that the donor family used to take dips here. Over the years the area has also been known as the Goldfish Pond and was home to Koi Carp, but today the only bathers there are water lilies.
Horticulture students working and studying at Bodnant Garden were given the opportunity to develop a new planting scheme for the nearby Vanessa Beds (named after many special Bodnant-bred hybrid Rhododendron ‘Vanessa’ once planted there). In 2015 the beds were replanted and a new section of lawn laid where the oak once stood.
This spring work began on the Bath area itself. Walls have been repaired, old plants have been removed, soil improved and a new scheme was planted. Most dramatically, a tall Osmanthus hedge which hid the Bath from the upper lawns has been removed, giving visitors a new vista down into the garden.
For more details about Bodnant Garden call +44 (0)1492 650460, visit their website, Facebook page or Twitter account.
Published 20 September 2016