I have visited Bodnant in Summer when the flowers were rich in bloom, but this time we visited in that vague borderland when Winter is seguing into Spring and the land slowly awakens with life, when the crocuses and snowdrops make their triumphant announcement of the renewal of the ongoing cycle of existence. The purple crocuses were the first plants that called on our attention, followed by Galanthus,the white snowdrops, which in the British Isles are the ubiquitous, early signs of the first awakenings of Spring. There were also pulmonaria, small, lavender coloured tongues with a deep yellow zone in the centre of the leaf.
But the shrubs seem to be coming to life. Daphne filled the air with its scent, and the three ladies with us, Maureen, my daughter Helen and Ester, Helen's mother-in-law, soon picked out the scents and stopped to sniff the blooms. Daphne odora margineata has a gentle, enticing scent that lingered on the air before we reached the plant. The baby slept on, wrapped warm inside a baby sling and showed no interest in the scents.
There is a well designed network of paths that take visitors around the gardens between flower beds, shrubs and trees. I could not resist stopping to talk to a gardener to ask what they were doing. She replied that they were mulching the flower beds. Still curious I had to ask what the mulch was and was told leaves and compost that the gardeners make themselves. Maureen smiled and said nothing, she has known me long enough to know my curiosity about gardens.
There is a rich variety of trees, both deciduous and conifer, including some giant redwood, which seem to be popular in nineteenth century estate gardens. One stood towering over the garden. I tried to get a photo but I was too close to get anything other than part of the trunk.
Early on in the walk we were met by a robin, this time a male that landed on one of the beds.Was this a harbinger of Spring? By no means, for the annunciation of Spring can only come from migratory birds, while the robin is a hardy year round resident, a sign of not the cycle of nature but its enduring presence in times of cold and dark.