Formal Italian terraces running wild at Bodnant Garden

Staff at Bodnant Garden have "gone a bit wild" and planted a mini-meadow on the Welsh garden's Italianate terraces.

Bodnant Garden. Image: National Trust
Bodnant Garden. Image: National Trust

The wildflower border, next to the listed old Pin Mill building at the National Trust garden near Conwy, has been a real success with visitors, head gardener John Rippin said.

He explained: "It's something people don't expect to see in a formal garden but visitors have absolutely loved it and are already asking us to do it again next year. The bees and butterflies are loving it too!"

The 77m bed was previously a formal display of herbaceous perennials which needed renovation. Gardeners Ros and Tracy came up with the idea of sowing a wildflower mix to create a summer display while the bed was empty, awaiting a new design. They put the idea to Bodnant's new head gardener John who was enthusiastic about trying something different on the formal Canal Terrace.

In the spring old plants were removed from the border, it was cleared of weeds and the soil dug over and prepared for sowing in May – with a pastel coloured seed mix of bishop's flower, cosmos, cornflower and poppy.

Ros said: "You only have to sow a tiny amount of seed per square metre and it's quite hard to get an even spread. I was on tenterhooks waiting to see if they would take but the display has been amazing and exceeded all our expectations. The bed
has been absolutely full of flowers and is teeming with wildlife."

Bodnant's grassland management project is also promoting wildflowers. Three meadows are in various stages of development, with an emphasis on old-fashioned management like cutting hay in late summer and grazing the land in autumn. 

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