Thursday 1 November 2012

Bodnant Gardens - some questions.

The Terrace at Bodnant.  Photo: ALAMY
Gardens are living, evolving, three dimensional works of art and how to deal with an historic garden is always an issue - especially when a garden reaches maturity.  It is appropriate to recreate what the garden was?  Or is this just preserving a garden in aspic (so to speak)?  Or should the garden be developed, given a new design, just as in so many cases a new incarnation was laid over an existing one?

There is no simple answer and the questions get tougher where the garden has centuries of layers of history overlaying each other.  In this case, the garden is relatively recent.  Bodnant Garden in north Wales was mostly created from 1874 by Henry Davis Pochin, a successful industrial chemist.  Following Pochin's death in 1895 the property was inherited by his daughter, whose husband became the first Baron Aberconway in 1911.  

The garden became famous under Henry, second Lord Aberconway who inherited in 1934.  It was he who installed the terraced garden and in 1938 imported the Pin Mill from the Cotswolds in 1938 for use as a garden pavilion on the Canal Terrace (see photo above)

A keen plantsman, Henry subscribed to plant hunting expedition and began the famous collection of rhododendrons (he also bred new cultivars) and magnolias.  

In this thoughtful article in the Telegraph Stephen Lacey discusses and questions some of the recent developments at Bodnant.

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