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A North Wales Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: The new Winter Garden at Bodnant - Entry 14 by John Good

Yesterday was a fine day (hooray!) so Pam and I took ourselves off to Bodnant to have a look at the new Woodland Garden that Troy Scott-Smith developed as one of his many intiatives during his 7-year stint as Head Gardener. We have been following its development right from the start with great interest, but this was the first time the word WOW! was appropriate. The planting is absolutely wonderful with combinations of stems, leaves (of evergreens of course) and flowers that I fail to imagine being bettered. But like all woodland plantings, it needs to be sunny to be seen at its best. Sadly, the the photos that follow really don't do it justice, for a start you can't smell the many witch hazels and other sweetly scented winter flowering shrubs dotted about the garden, and the 3D textural extravaganza is lost in photographs. So, if you possibly can you must see it for yourself, if not this year then in some future February/March - you will not be disappointed.

Winter garden at Bodnant, general view Rubus setosus or similar at Bodnant

Among the best of the foliage plants was Bergenia purpurascens 'Helen Dillon:

Bergenia purpurascens 'Helen Dillon'

Also beautiful, in both leaf texture and flowers were the many hellebores that were just coming to their best, my favourite being H. x ericsmithii

Helleborus x ericsmithii Helleborus x ericsmithii close-up

There were literally hundreds, if not thousands of bulbous irises in flower including wonderful drifts of I. 'Katherine Hodgkin', I. reticulata cvs. 'Cantab' and 'J.S. van Dijt' and I. danfordiae, but these just don't really show up to good effect in photographs - the human eye is such a wonderfully selective organ! Anyway, here is I. reticulata 'Cantab'

Iris reticulata 'Cantab'

As you would expect, there are lots of snowdrops in quite a few varieties, but these have not really had the chance to clump up yet (the garden was only completed in 2012-13) so do not make much of an impact. However, I thought I should show a Bodnant speciality, the eponymously named form of Galanthus atkinsii. Apologies for the rather 'washed out' phtograph.

Galanthus x atkinsii 'Bodnant Form'

Of course, there was much, much more to be seen, but we were in a bit of hurry so time for photography was limited; I'll try to get back to Bodnant before the end of this month and hopefully have some more things to delight you.

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