flowering bulbs garden design garden furniture garden paths garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden seat garden seating gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials meadows National Trust ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs pergolas shrubs spring bulbs spring gardening The National Trust trees Wales

Early Spring at Bodnant Garden – Part 1 – to the Dell

I promised a few reports on our planned visits to Bodnant Garden in North Wales so we are pleased to share our visit in early spring, a day with the most perfect weather possible to make our exploration a good one.

Warm, calm and blue skies! We stayed over nearby to make sure we had time to wander slowly around this large garden at a leisurely pace, the only way to appreciate a garden so full of interesting plants.

After parking up we soon spotted a bank of little blue bulbs which we thought were possibly Scilla. As we entered the garden itself we came across this informative and attractive sign prepared by the head gardener giving us ideas of what was looking good in the garden.

Our visit coincided with the height of the flowering seasons for Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias as well as spring flowering bulbs and the earliest of perennials, so we were in for a colourful day’s exploration. Bodnant is a garden designed to present choices where paths fork and cross.

We made our way to the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden, a place so full of ideas for anyone to use to add winter interest to their own patches.


We then found a gateway that took us into a field of daffodils, simple old cultivars, creating a peaceful place to wander slowly and take in the atmosphere of this special space.

We strolled through the field slowly and then made our way down to the top of the Dell. The gallery that follows shares this part of our time at Bodnant. In part 2 we shall wander along the dell and then back up the long slope to explore the areas around the hall.






flower show flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs roses Shropshire shrubs Staffordshire trees woodland

The Dorothy Clive Garden in May

Today we returned to the Dorothy Clive Gardens to see what was going on in May and to see what had changed since our last visit in March. We had to miss out on our planned April visit due to commitments of giving talks to garden groups and opening our own garden. It was worth waiting a little longer because we really enjoyed our visit discovering so many changes and new things to see.


But an extra element for this visit was our arranged meeting with friends from college over 40 years ago. After meeting up again as a consequence of one of our college friends spotting me during my TV appearance in a gardening programme last year we now meet regularly at cafes and gardens.

dcmay-06 dcmay-04

The mystery patch being developed this year is now beginning to take shape and we think it may eventually become a scree bed or gravel garden. We shall see. Time will tell.


The first views of the garden showed a much greener scene. Deciduous plants were beginning to show colour in their leaves and the last of the spring bulbs continued to flower.

dorothyclive-01 dorothyclive-02-1 dorothyclive-04-1 dorothyclive-18-1 dorothyclive-18

The area around the pond was gradually coming to life and the Camellia Walk shone pink.

dorothyclive-09 dorothyclive-10-1dorothyclive-13-1 dorothyclive-14-1

The first leaves were bursting from their buds in the Rose Garden and the productive areas showing promise.

dorothyclive-16 dorothyclive-22

However the real star of the Dorothy Clive Gardens at this time of the year has to be the area called The Dingle, a woodland garden full of azaleas, rhododendrons and ferns, an area of bright colours and rich fresh greens. Enjoy wandering through the narrow winding gravel paths of The dingle with me, the Undergardener, our friends and of course my camera!

dcmay-05 dcmay-07  dcmay-10 dcmay-11 dcmay-12 dcmay-13 dcmay-14 dcmay-15 dcmay-16 dcmay-09 dcmay-17 dcmay-18 dcmay-19 dcmay-20dcmay-21 dcmay-24 dcmay-27dcmay-22 dcmay-23  dcmay-25 dcmay-26  dcmay-28 dcmay-29 dcmay-30 dcmay-32 dcmay-33 dcmay-34 dcmay-35 dcmay-36 dcmay-37 dcmay-38

We will return in June for our next excursion to the Dorothy Clive Gardens.


colours flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs spring gardening

The Dorothy Clive Garden in March

We returned to the Dorothy Clive Garden late in March to see what the early spring month presented to us. Our first view across the garden showed little change in fact so we hoped for more signs of seasonal progress elsewhere throughout the garden.


Last time we visited there was a wildlife activity going on and once again we had timed our visit to coincide with a special event, a Rare Plant Fair.

winchester-39-1 winchester-36-1

As we made our way in search of our usual coffee and cake we passed the developing area we found on our last visit. The area had been further cleared and a perimeter wall rebuilt. Perhaps on our next visit we may be able to work out what is being constructed.

winchester-37-1 winchester-38-1

As we walked along the woodland path skirting around the top edge of the Dingle Garden we followed sinuous grass tracks through naturalised golden daffodils.

winchester-35-1 winchester-33-1winchester-34-1 winchester-32-1

Dropping into the Dingle itself we discovered the blooms of Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Prunus in the shade beneath the tall evergreen trees.

winchester-31-1winchester-30-1winchester-28-1winchester-09-3 winchester-05-3winchester-08-3 winchester-08-1  winchester-10-3 winchester-07-3

Beneath the Rhododendron shrubs small blue flowered bulbous plants shone jewel-like on the dingle floor.


We were looking forward seeing the new Winter Garden again as we were so impressed with it on our last visit. Our first views encouraged us to look closer.

winchester-18-1 winchester-19-1winchester-17-1

We enjoyed both the flowers and foliage of the new plantings. This area will be such a good winter garden in the years to come. We look forward to seeing it develop.

winchester-29-1 winchester-23-1winchester-25-1 winchester-24-1winchester-22-1 winchester-20-1winchester-12-3 winchester-02-3winchester-04-3 winchester-01-3  winchester-03-3

We emerged from the Winter Garden and wandered around the front of the tea shop to explore the sloping areas of the garden.

dorothyclive-01 dorothyclive-02-1

The Camellia Walk was at last showing lots more blooms but neither of us particularly like them. I include a couple of shots for those who do!

dorothyclive-14-1 dorothyclive-13-1

The views down to the pond through the scree area showed great variations in colour and texture but many of the shrubs still remained totally leafless. 

dorothyclive-08-1 dorothyclive-10-1

Within the borders in the sloping part of the gardens there were points of colour from shrubs and herbaceous plants.






Among these plants we discovered promises of more to come. Perhaps when we next return these buds will be fully open leaves and flowers. We can’t wait to return!

dorothyclive-04-1 dorothyclive-07-1