Garden of the Week: Bodnant’s secret Yew Dell is revealed

The Yew Dell at Bodnant Garden, near Conwy, hidden from public view for greater than a century, is a woodland with a stream running through and is akin to a Himalayan glade.

It is filled with old, rare rhododendrons, many grown from seed collected by famous plant hunters George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward during their Asian travels within the early 1900s.
There also are many rare Bodnant hybrid rhododendrons, bred on the garden over the past century.

The opening marks the primary phase of a prime renovation project which aims to open up one other 38 acres of this special garden over the following three years. 

Visitors may be ready to see the work in progress – or even help the gardeners.

Bill Warrell, who’s overseeing the hole up of the brand new area, says: “The Yew Dell is a gorgeous and uniquely atmospheric component of the garden.

“With mature rhododendrons and hydrangeas overhung by oak, ash and magnolia, it has a secluded, lush atmosphere.

“We hope that, over the subsequent couple of years, visitors will enjoy watching the transformation going down or even get entangled themselves by enjoying volunteer days and special events.”

The 3.5 acres of the Yew Dell were originally laid out from the 1870s by Bodnant Garden’s creator Henry Pochin.

He was inspired by leading Victorian designer William Robinson, who recommended mixing exotic and local plants suited for climate and terrain instead of to a specific horticultural style.

The area has remained untouched aside from basic management for a few years, but over the last two years gardeners had been weeding, decreasing brambles, renovating shrubs and trees, in addition to repairing paths and drains.

“After some exertions to make the world safe and accessible it’s now able to welcome the general public – but there’s plenty more to do yet,” says Bill.

“During the renovation work new plants might be added, including hydrangea, euonymus and acer to increase interest into autumn.

“The rhododendron collection can also be expanded, as more Bodnant hybrids are planted.”

The opening of the Yew Dell should be followed in 2015 by another private riverside area is called the Skating Pond, and in 2017 by Furnace Wood.