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Looking Good (mid-November at Bodnant Garden)

This time of year most gardeners are putting the plot to bed...but theres no snoozing on the job here at Bodnant. The gates may be closed but inside its a hive of activity as we get busy with autumn maintenance, renovations and preparing for our first ever winter opening from December 27 we will be welcoming visitors right through to next November. The recent wet and windy weather has brought down the leaves in spades and as gardeners and volunteers get stuck into the job of scooping them up, cutting back herbaceous plants, tying in climbers and tidying beds and borders, its now that you start to really see the structure of the garden. The architectural beauty of towering trees, granite terraces, cascading water and majestic mountains is at its most breathtaking on a bright, clear, frosty, blue-skied day. The gardens grand evergreen conifers take centre stage at this time of year, but alongside them the skeletal form of deciduous trees show off their own beauty, such as the glossy, peeling bark of Stewartia sinensis and Acer griseum. Winter shrubs such as Jasminium nudiflorum and Mahonia x media provide sharp bursts of sunny yellow through the borders, the latter giving off a sweet scent too. Plants that have been giving their all for months, and are still looking great as their colours fade and mutate, are the hydrangeas. There is a fine line-up of mopheads and lacecaps lining the fountain wall on the Lily Terrace including H. macrophylla Blue Wave (now turning green), Altona (muti-coloured pinks) Mowe (plum purple) and Lanarth White (as the name suggests...white, but with hints of gold!) Meanwhile, the crowd-pleaser of the Shrub Borders, Renate Steiniger, has turned from electric blue to many shades of turquoise. And some other late-flowering die-hards are still putting on a show too, including the stalwart Fuchsia magellanica, a bright scarlet Schitzostylis coccinea, velvety pink Salvia microphylla 'Cerro Potosi' and, on the Lily Terrace, a lovely purple combination of Cotinus Grace with Verbena bonariensis. But its all the hard work thats going on around the garden right now which will keep it looking good... hopefully even better next year. On the upper garden roses are being given their winter chop and climbers are being cut back and tied in. On the Top Rose Terrace the alpine garden, designed by our gardener Gemma Hayes, is being extended. Work is also ongoing in the new White Garden on the Lower Rose Terrace, being designed by our student gardener David Green.

Nearby, the Pin Mill is getting a facelift and the Canal Terrace borders have been stripped and are being prepared for replanting with a new herbaceous scheme. Bed renovation is continuing in the Shrub Borders where new shrubs and trees are being planted to provide a wider spectrum of seasonal interest and in the Dell our intrepid tree specialists are scaling heights to remove the dead, diseased and damaged. And work goes on apace in the new Winter Garden. This area is in its infancy and will fill out and mature as the years go on but this is a chance for visitors to see how the story begins... The Winter Garden gets its grand unveiling on December 27 along with a newly planned winter route through parts of the rest of the garden.

For more pictures of the garden in November see Facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT. Or for more information check out www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden