Bodfach Hall Gardens - 2008

Bodfach Gardens For those of you who visited our gardens last year (June 3rd), you'll notice the rhododendrons this year are fresher and brighter, thanks to the combination of wet and cool weather in May - how lucky for us that they should be at their peak this weekend. We feel really privileged to have inherited such a mature backdrop, which just gets better every year.

Geoff Wilkinson, who, with his brother Len, has been gardening at Bodfach for the past 18 years (were you wondering how the box and yew topiary looks so magnificent?), has been busy keeping a photographic record of some of the high-and low-lights of our year. There is an exhibition of some of his photos in the studio at the back of the coach house.

Sadly, the chainsaws have also been busy this year. Two prized and ancient beech trees were condemned as unsafe due to rot and had to be felled. The remains of the last one lie in the Statue Garden and, counting the rings in the trunk, we can date its age at about 250 years. This would indicate that it goes back to the time when Bell Lloyd (1758-1793 at Bodfach) planted 170,000 trees, mostly oaks and beeches, on the original estate. If you peer into the now exposed base of the tree, you will be shocked to see quite how little timber was supporting the tonnage above.

We have been lucky enough to support many generations of rabbits this year, thanks to all the burgeoning fresh growth in all the beds - they seem to have an Exocet-like homing device on all plants most precious and rare. It's only a shame they don't like ground elder, Japanese knotweed, groundsel and creeping dandelion - but I have noticed that they'll nibble the fresh tips of hairy bittercress before it sets seed. Sadly, even they don't get round to topping them all. So it's daily war on both camps from this one.

The pond has had a major facelift this year - the large poplar tree in its centre has been removed in order to maintain the future integrity of the new lining which we hope to put in place next year. For this year, we can content ourselves with water levels rising and falling with the nearby River Cain.

We hope all parents will help us by supervising their children both in the play areas and around the pond. We are happy for you to enter the pond area, but would ask you to close the gates for safety.

We are also hoping next year to have completed the re-landscaping of the Coach House terrace to incorporate a raised herb garden. At the moment, the paving along the terrace, as in a large part of the old concrete pathways around the garden, is quite uneven, so we would advise you to take care as you go, especially if it has been raining.

Cricketers, mainly from Llanfyllin Primary and High Schools, will be playing on the pitch on the bottom field by the South Ride. We are all crossing our fingers for better weather this summer as only three matches were played last year! Along the edge of the South Ride a series of spring and summer-flowering trees have been planted which we hope one day will pre-empt the rhododendrons in beauty a month or two before they show their faces.

In addition to Rosemary's Farmhouse Nursery plant stall, this year sees the launch of the Bodfach Book Fair, which we hope will become an annual fixture at the Garden Open. We are also proud to welcome North Powys Youth Music, made up of young musicians from schools across North Powys.

Thanks to Phil, Alan and Jacky, Wendy, Geoff, Len, Martin and Eleri, Mike, Rich and Claire for your invaluable help in making today possible - and thanks to all volunteers who helped in the running of the day itself.

And thanks to you all for coming and for supporting support the two charities, Monty Kidz and Age Concern Montgomeryshire this year.

Maggie Baynes (1st June 2008)