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Rare flower set to bloom at gardens.

Byline: Cathy Owen Reporter cathy.owen@walesonline.co.uk

NATIONAL Trust Wales staff at the stunning Bodnant Gardens have unveiled the latest part of their ongoing restoration work involving a rare flower.

The new Penjerrick Walk will be open to the public for the first time in Spring 2017 and is described as being a "rare floral showstopper". The Trust says it will be just as impressive as the garden's famous Laburnum Arch.

Drawing in around 50,000 visitors for the three weeks it is in bloom, the Laburnum Arch is currently Bodnant Garden's horticultural marvel. The earliest and longest of its kind in Britain at 55 metres, the Laburnum Arch is a flamboyant display of golden flowers.

The 100-metre-long, Penjerrick Walk forms part of Furnace Hill, a secret part of the 80 acre garden overlooking the River Hiraethlyn and the grand house.

It will open to the public for the first time in spring 2017, creating an extra 20 acres for visitors to explore.

Penjerrick Walk is a recreation of the avenue of creamy white hybrid Rhododendron 'Penjerrick' that was originally planted by Henry McLaren.

Former Head Gardener at Bodnant, Troy Smith, was inspired to reinstate the Walk after discovering a speech written for the Royal Horticultural Society by Henry McLaren, 2nd Lord Aberconway, from 1950.

It said: "If I could switch the clock to any season of the year to enjoy a two minute walk at Bodnant, my choice would be the Penjerrick Walk in the first week of May."

Troy's successor John Rippin, is now helping to turn the idea into a reality.

The Rhododendron originates from the Himalayas and the Penjerrick is a rare hybrid bred at Penjerrick Garden in Cornwall. With the help from the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group of the RHS, the team at Bodnant has been able to micropropogate plant material from the remaining Penjerricks at the garden at a specialist laboratory in Duchy College, Cornwall. The plants which are currently no more than 60cm high are expected to be in full bloom within ten years.

John said: "We have many thousands of rhododendron species from across the world at Bodnant Garden and the team goes to great lengths to conserve and tend to the plants to ensure the grounds look incredible all year round.

"The Penjerrick is an especially significant plant to the history of the garden and is a rare breed within its species. Since 2012 the team here has opened up four new parts of the garden and we can't wait to open Furnace Hill for visitors and will be eagerly waiting for the Penjerrick Walk to come into full bloom.

The support from Duchy College and the RHS has been invaluable in making this happen."

Justin Albert, director of National Trust Wales said: "Collected by plant hunters from as far back as 300 years ago, our precious plant life stands as testament to the vision and passion for plants shared by generations of owners and gardeners.

"Our ultimate goal is to look to return rare species we have conserved back to their places of origin, such as the Chinese Acer griseum found in Dyffryn, brought from China by the famous plant hunter Ernest Wilson.

"We really do offer a world of gardens within Wales and June is one of the best times to see our gardens in all their glory, so we hope by sharing the stories of our rare plants we will inspire people to visit."

The artist's impression of how Penjerrick Walk will look has been released as a part of a wider campaign to encourage people to explore National Trust Gardens throughout June.

To help garden enthusiasts to plan their World of Gardens journey, National Trust Wales has created a guide showing the origins of the huge variety of plants and flowers found in National Trust gardens.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 3, 2016
Words:657
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