I’ve loved Wales ever since university days in Swansea, so we always try to fit in a family holiday or weekend there. This August, we hired a cottage on Anglesey for a week to take advantage of its wonderful sandy beaches, the epic landscape of nearby Snowdonia and the many wonderful historic gardens on offer. With my wife, two teenage sons and mother coming, there was something for everyone – perfect for a varied, budget-friendly, three-generation holiday (even if the car on the way up was a bit of a squeeze).
One real horticultural highlight of our trip was visiting Bodnant Garden, a mile or two inland from Conwy. It’s in a spot where you’d hardly believe a garden could be made, descending down a steep hillside to a wooded valley, with spectacular views of Snowdonia.
The site was bought in 1874 by Victorian inventor and industrialist Henry David Pochin, who after a career that included revolutionising the soap industry (it’s thanks to him that soap today is a pleasingly white, scented product rather than a dull, brown blob), decided to retire to the Welsh coast.
This was an extremely energetic form of retirement, however, as he used his latter years to kick-start the redevelopment of the garden, in particular planting large numbers of exotic trees and shrubs. Upon his death he passed on the site to his daughter Laura, who in turn developed the upper formal gardens with exuberant herbaceous planting.
I almost felt sorry for Pochin as I was walking around with my mum, as he will never have had the chance to see the saplings that he planted mature into the grand specimens they are today. Sadly, 50-70 trees, including a 50m sequoia, were lost to storm damage in the winter of 2021 and the National Trust, which has managedRead more on gardenersworld.com