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Record sunshine prompts Bodnant Garden to bloom early

Bodnant Garden, Clwyd, Wales. Bodnant is a breathtaking garden with grand terraces and views of Snowdonia. Credit National Trust

The laburnum arch at the National Trust’s world famous Bodnant Garden in Conwy has produced its earliest blooms for a decade, following a record amount of sunshine in April and May.

The arch reached full flower on 15 May, almost a week earlier than last year and two weeks earlier than in 2010.

The 55m-long archway – believed to be the longest and oldest of its kind in Britain – is the most anticipated highlight in the garden’s calendar.

Adam Salvin, Assistant Head Gardener, said: “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the laburnum burst into flower every year for 23 years. We usually anticipate the bloom towards the end of May, but thanks to the glorious April sunshine the flowers have developed much earlier than an average year. When the arch fully bloomed on 15th May, it was very unusual.

“Although formal records don’t stretch back that far, it could even be the earliest I’ve seen it flower in 20 years.”

In a typical year, the arch draws around 50,000 people during the fortnight when it is at its finest and has provided a golden backdrop to dinners, proposals, weddings and anniversaries in its 140-year history.

But for the first time the National Trust haven’t been able to welcome visitors to see the floral spectacle in person, while the garden remains closed in line with government guidelines.

General Manager William Greenwood says: “It’s a real shame people won’t be able to experience it this year, but we’re doing our best to bring the arch to people at home.”

Over the next two weeks, Bodnant Garden will stream ‘slow TV’ video from the arch on Facebook and Instagram, also hosting a Twitter Q&A session with the Assistant Head Gardener. The season will close with start-to-finish time-lapse footage showing how the arch changes over the course of its flowering.

William continues: “We hope by sharing the experience virtually, people will have the opportunity to tune into the sights and sounds of the arch – busy with bees – whether it’s after a long shift at work, during a home-schooling lesson or just for a few moments of escape.”

As well as flowering earlier, this year the archway has also produced shorter racemes – the ‘droplets’ of yellow flowers.

Assistant Head Gardener Adam Salvin says: “We’ve been monitoring the arch closely. Although not obvious to the general eye, this year’s racemes are about several centimetres shorter than we would expect, probably due to a lack of rain over the past couple of weeks. But it’s still an amazingly uplifting display.”

While the arch needs little or no tending while in bloom, the gardeners are continuing with essential tasks such as weeding and caring for plants in the glasshouse so that the garden will look its best when it reopens.

William continues: “When it’s safe to do so, we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the garden. It’s such a special place.”