Bodnant Garden is easily one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, spanning some 80 acres situated above the River Conwy in North Wales on ground sloping towards the west and looking across the valley towards the Snowdonia range.

The Garden has two parts. The upper garden which is quite formal around Bodnant Hall consists of the terraced gardens and informal lawns shaded by trees. And the lower area, known as the "Dell" formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn which contains the Wild garden.

There are tree and shrubs here which originally came from China, North America, Europe and Japan, but which are suited to the Welsh climate and soil. The planting has been done sympathetically with care taken and dramatic plant associations.

Image above: Autumn colour at Bodnant, photograph by Gillian Dromey

Autumn Colour at Bodnant

I know, it’s been a bit wet of late, but a glimpse of sunlight shining through russet leaves is just the thing to lift the heart. The garden is well and truly being transformed by the colours of autumn now; there are still flowers to be enjoyed but it is foliage, berries and fruit which catch the eye and when the clouds clear away the mountain backdrop provides some breathtaking panoramas.

The wild garden is in its full full glory, with rowan, prunus and many other deciduous trees, native and exotic. Exotics which will stand out include the pink-leaved Katsura Tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, with its heart shaped leaves which smell of burnt sugar, the flame red oak Quercus coccinea, a Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ (Purple Leaved Plum), the acer like Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, and Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’. Berries with wow factor include the Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’, the pale green Styrax japonica (Japanese Snowbell), the aptly named Sapphire Berry Symplocos paniculata and a red fruiting Viburnum lobophyllum.

As herbaceous plants wane, the eye is drawn upwards again to the towering evergreen conifers including firs, cedars, hemlock and the redwoods.

2) Ness Gardens:

This incredible garden set on the Wirral peninsula has extensive herbaceous borders and a victorian style potager. It also has the UK’s largest collection of sorbus (Rowans) and a beautiful and impressive collection of magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias.

Plants of interest in Autumn:

colchicum (naked ladies/ Autumn crocus/ Meadow Saffron)
potentilla dahurica ‘Bright Ness’ (cinquefoil)
parrotia persica (persian Ironwood)
euonymus phellomanus (winged spindle / cork tree)
humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ (golden hop)
heptacodium miconoides (Seven son flower tree)eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe pyeweed)crocosmia ‘lucifer’ (montbretia)rudbeckia fulgida var.sullvantii ‘Goldsturm’

Situated near Northwich in Cheshire, these lovely gardens are famous for their outstanding herbaceous borders. A visit at this time of the year reminds any gardener of the design value of seed heads and twig and stem interest, elements which can all play an important (yet often forgotten) part in the garden designers palette.

In addition the woodland walk reveals many fine views as the trees display their incredible autumn hues of reds, golds and purples.

Image above: Echinacea purpurea, featured on the Rhone Street Gardens blog

"A plant is only worth growing if it looks good when it is dead”
-Piet Oudolf, Dutch garden designer



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