With summer here now, you might be making plans for weekend escapes too. If you drive into the heart of North Wales, across some of its picturesque and remote landscapes, with the purpose of visiting a garden, one might say you are really passionate about your plants and flowers. What if this particular place could be called the flowers wonderland of National Trust in Wales?
The fish in this pond found shelter under the lily pods. The tulips around it still looked beautiful,
despite starting to fade.
To squeeze both Powis Castle and Bodnant Garden into the same weekend of May might seem like a rushed attempt to almost see too much, too quick. At the same time, you might find your expectations transcended.
Just like Alice in wonderland, you could expect a rabbit hole to be nothing more than a actual rabbit hole. You wouldn’t think you’d find yourself falling through a waterless well, shrinking and growing and experiencing an unexpected encounter almost with every step you take. Entering the gates at Bodnant Garden could have the same effect. You have already seen a lot of impressive rhododendrons at Powis, how could any more of the same impress you so soon?
Walk over 32 hectares of natural beauty
If you do find yourself in the area, and decide to do the crazy route we did one mid-May weekend, you might find it worthy of all the effort. Powis for main course, Bodnant Garden for dessert worked like magic for us.
Unlike the previous piece, on the first part of our Wales weekend, I will not put together a lot of data to treat your mind to it. This time, I am after your imagination and taste for unexpected beauty. You can follow us through the paths of the 32 hectares (80 acres) of botanical heaven, part of which I managed to see, and then plan a visit to discover more yourself.
Start at the pavilion, stride under the Laburnum arch
As for us, after a quick tasty lunch at the pavilion, we strode under the Laburnum arch, marvelled at the explosion of colours the rhododendrons offered us straight away, stopped at the terraces for photos, then we walked down to the Pin Mill pond where a harp concert halted us to stop.
Taking the Magnolia walk next, we walked down the impressive slopes towards the Old Mill, where we had a pit stop for coffee and ice cream. And we decided to follow The Dell to The Poem tower and the waterfall, and venture towards the Skating Pond, an area which has been open to the public only since 2015 and in very much still work in progress.
Slideshow: From the formal gardens in front of the mansion, to the terrace and the waterfall,
there is temptation at every step for photographers.
Keep your camera ready
The whole tour we took of the gardens kept us busy with taking photography and videos all up the creek which flows from the pond towards the old mill. The different layers of the garden revealed themselves in a sort of magic slow dance turning into salsa, going back to Viennese waltz.
At the far end we even had an encounter with some sheep grazing without a care, and their frolicking lambs, who seemed to experience some sort of a camera frenzy.
The path up to The Poem reminded of fairy tales, as if you’d expect some valiant prince to leap fiercely and protect the tower against the attack of a vicious dragon. However, the name of the place triggered me to joke around: is it here they locked poets like me to create for the lords of the land? I forgot all about jokes and dragons and princes the moment we discovered the yellow azalea diffusing the sweetest perfume, to which my senses could not resist. Somewhere in between tales and towers and creeks and alluring colours, I could spend a whole summer forgetting the world and creating one of my own in writing.
The waterfall. The Poem.
Last stop: the garden shops
Finding the strength to drag myself away from the most delicate and intoxicating scent of the azalea, we continued across what looked as new paths over the grass. The bench we found in full sun again seemed too much of a temptation: I stretched on it, face in the sun, eyes shut, and never wanted to move again.
Sadly, the gardens were closing soon, and I shortly got worried about having to rush to avoid being locked in. To my surprise, the stretch of land we crossed after leaving The Poem behind was far closer to the house and exit than I imagined. It stands proof to how one loses the measure of time and space once immersed in beauty and tranquillity at such as scale.
The plants we bought on our way back now spread their roots both in our front and back garden. What better souvenir to remind us, over years, of my first visit to one of the most fascinating gardens of Wales.