Catch it while you can: Bodnant Garden’s Laburnum Arch
Renowned for their tinted textures of light and shadow, Laburnums are typically found in warmer climates, but you can enjoy this spectacular specimen in Wales’ Bodnant Garden.
This grand tunnel walk bursts into life during late spring, becoming a vast and vibrant cascade of golden yellows, which radiate at the very heart of the Bodnant estate. The 55-metre walk was devised by Henry Davis Pochin, the successful Victorian entrepreneur who created the gardens in 1875, and remained devoted to them for the next 20 years.
Composed of a metal framework next to which the laburnums were originally planted, their large branches have flourished over time to create a magnificent allée. Laburnums are typically found in warmer climates, stretching across the mountains of southern Europe and into the Balkans, they prominently feature in Monet’s own famous garden at Giverny.
When the trees do flower, usually in around late May or early June, their blossoms droop down, earning them the nickname ‘Golden Rain.’
It takes two gardeners up to five weeks to prune the arch by hand in January at the coldest time of the year – painstakingly untying, cutting back and tying back in each strand to the framework – and it takes a further two weeks of work dead-heading the flowers in July.
But visitors take note: this beautiful phenomenon lasts only two to three weeks. It’s only during this time that visitors can enjoy the arch to its full potential – swelling with sunlight and the gentle lull of bees. The garden’s famous azaleas compliment it all with a fiery border around this impressive walkway.
Indeed, the Laburnum Arch offers an array of experiences for those who come to see it – from plant-lovers to painters and photographers alike.
Fran Llewellyn, a gardener at Bodnant Garden said: “The Laburnum Arch is probably one of our most famous features – the most photographed, talked about and anticipated. It draws around 40,000 visitors in the fortnight or so when it’s at its finest
When it was late flowering last year due to a long winter we were absolutely inundated with queries from people wanting to know when it would appear! The phones were red hot and we launched a Laburnum Watch on our website and social media to keep people updated.
Looking after the arch is a real labour of love for the gardeners entrusted with its care but it’s well worth all the effort when you see visitors marvelling at it. It’s such a dazzling, spectacular sight.”