Another National Trust garden. Bar a particularly splendid example of an Aloe striatula at the very entrance, the herbaceous content of this garden is a bit pants. The nice bits are then ruined by either the way they’ve been planted, or a bit of rubbish hard landscaping. There is zero atmosphere to this garden until you reach the Cathedral’esque majesty of the valley, with its quite stunning mature Conifer specimens. For now I’ll hack apart the formal gardens though and there’s plenty to hack. Along with the lack of atmosphere comes a feeling of awkwardness, there is no coherent feeling of flow or continuity in the planting or landscaping. OK I presume the hard landscaping was put together along with the (awful looking) mock Tudor house, so nobody has much control over that, the planting itself though could be much more imaginative to help create, what could be, a magical set of spaces. Oh and they use robotic mowers, which have to be roped off! Wankers!
Set in terraces that appeared to me to happen all over the shop, the garden creates individual spaces which make use of the views over the RAF training grounds. As usual with charity owned gardens, there is a ‘blobbage’ element to the garden. Things in clumps, so that name markers can be placed there and anything that self seeds is weeded out so it doesn’t make the markers confusing *rolls eyes. There is a rose garden, you know the ones, where each bed contains a different hybrid tea and nothing else. An alpine garden with one example of each alpine surrounded by an acre of gravel before the next one.. There are water features, reflective pools, that sit serenely surrounded by lawn.. and only lawn. climbing plants are not allowed to sprawl or dangle beyond their perceived boundaries. An area with a substantial rose pergola is nice enough, but ruined by the painted hardware, in National Trust unobtrusive (but cheap looking) olive beige, or some shit. Then there is the newly, just being planted, tropical pool area, which had a couple of nice established Schefflera looking things. The sad thing was they were setting about ruining the whole thing by planting ‘tropical’ plants round the pool, bedding stylie.. EG: Ensete, Canna, Hosta, Musa, some hideous flowered thing repeat.repeat.repeat… Awful! Sorry guys, but that shit just hurts my brain and eyes.
The redeeming feature of Bodnant is its valley. Not the walks down or up the valley, just the valley. With a quite substantially flowing brook in its belly, complete with an impressive waterfall, the atmosphere here is tangible thanks to the sheer size of the trees. Something about Conifers is quite unsettling I find. En mass, conifer woods freak the fuck out of me, planted with space between them though and allowed to mature to such a scale as is evident at Bodnant, there is no escaping their savage beauty. Conifers are definitely masculine, all warrior energy and clannish protectiveness. There is nothing soft about them, they are proud, sometimes arrogant and just emit a raw power when stood beneath their gnarly canopy. They scare me, but I appreciate their power. You want to wrap your arms around them, like you used to your Father’s legs when you were little. I resisted the urge though, because there were National Trust signs telling you not to touch them because of damaging the bark.. *rolls eyes.