Bodfach Hall Gardens - 2018

Bodfach Gardens A question came to me the other day, as I was pulling out my 1000th weed in readiness for today – why do we garden? And why do we have gardens in the first place if we know how much work they are going to make for us to keep them in order? I guess the same answer would apply to many questions such as ‘why have children?’ For the most part it is to leave something of ourselves behind, to have something of beauty to love, to nurture and to be proud of...

Well, I guess that’s why we garden! They do, when we take a minute to take it all in, give so much pleasure, even if we never have time to actually sit down with a glass of something nice. There is something deeply satisfying, almost intoxicating, in the knowledge that you did this yourself and that it possibly will endure longer than one’s own lifetime. Sure, we have help – no way could we manage this by ourselves, but just knowing that we and the team help to create (at least in part) this and keep it going year after year, is a heartwarming thing.

And then there are you, the kind people of Llanfyllin and beyond, who help us for a day in every 2 years raise funds for causes near and far. In our twelfth year at Bodfach, we have seen the amount of visitors to the garden grow steadily. Hopefully you like what you see today and hopefully we have helped make it an enjoyable experience. If so, it will have been worth the effort.

You will see areas of rhododendrons decimated by falling trees: the passage of time is inevitably going to make its dramatic mark on a place with such ancient trees. And in such quantities. We are only thankful they have not (as yet) touched the house and keep our fingers crossed every time there is a howling gale. But the rhodo is a tough old beast and, sure enough, each spring, its shoots appear on the most decrepit of branches as if to say – don’t give up on me quite yet!

The show of rhododendron flowers at Bodfach is, happily, late this year. As I write, they are yet to put on their complete resplendence and so, hopefully, by the time you are reading this, they will be out in all their glory. Last year they were early, so we have been lucky.

Continuing on a feast/famine note, we had about three plums from our orchard last year. Not particularly sure why but this spring we have brought in some bees from Rachel Hills and Pete Elvis of MBKA in the hope that they will help with the pollination of the fruit trees. It is something which has been in the news for some time: we should all be sitting up and planting more bee-friendly species in our gardens. At least 50%, if we can.

We lost an enormous and well established wisteria sinensis on the South terrace last summer which just seemed to have had enough and snapped itself off at its base. Notwithstanding this, it had the good sense to leave us a small vital section which we are now cosseting and training to climb once again the rusty white column back up to the top verandah. It has already romped up virtually to the top in one year and we look forward to a whole new generation of resplendent purple inflorescences as soon as this time next year. From what I have seen in other gardens, this has been a particularly good year for wisteria.

But it is not all about losses.

We have created a circular woodland walk (see top of your map overleaf) which should add to the overall diversity of the gardens. The woods are and feel ancient so we hope you will enjoy taking a stroll up there. The levels aren’t too challenging, so, coupled with excellent shelter from a possible shower, the woods should provide an atmospheric counterpoint to the rest of your day.

You may also notice on your walk around that a new discovery of a well has been made near the rhododendron walk. When clearing a section of woods near one of the many underground springs, Alan Cockram, our estate manager, came across a crown of masonry half buried in the ground. You will see a sign on the path up to it – it is quite insignificant from the ground but very deep. We were very excited to think it has been undiscovered for many years and are currently puzzling why it was built there as opposed to closer to the house. It is a wonderful reminder of the ebb and flow of activity that has surrounded this ancient place for centuries.

With Simon and my huge thanks to the Home Team: Alan Cockram, Alan and Kim Venables, Diana, Daniel and Deina Locmele for their invaluable help and support. And to you, of course, for coming. Especially in such a temperamental, unpredictable end of May.

Maggie Baynes (May 2018)