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  • Charlotte Chapple

A Highlight Of Spring

I love visiting Bodnant Garden.

First year of university is over and now I can head home to North Wales to relax and enjoy some much-needed time with my parents! I’m not going to deny, the first year of university has been a challenge and I very much need some relaxation. One place I know I can relax and enjoy time with my parents is Bodnant Garden. My parents and I often visit the Garden and I don’t think it would be spring without paying the beautiful place a visit. After hearing that The Laburnum Arch was in flower early, it was simply a must see! The highlight of spring in North Wales!

My parents picked a good weekend day to go, the sun was out and shinning for the most part but unfortunately in typical welsh fashion the rain came to try and put a dampener on the day. But luckily the rains passed quickly with only a few light showers and a slightly damp picnic.

The Garden was as beautiful as I remember it being. Of course the first thing we went to see was the55 metre-long flowering Laburnum Arch that was a sea of bright yellow and buzzing with many busy bees. But of course, many other people had the same idea as us and came to visit the garden and all were drawn to the arch. There were nearly as many people as there were bees! The arch was created by the garden’s Victorian founder, Henry Pochin in 1880. He employed Edward Milner to help design the formal garden around Bodnant Hall. Milner was apprentice to Joseph Paxton, English gardener, architect and Member of Parliament, best known for designing the Crystal Palace. This includes a Laburnum Arch based on pergola walkways of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed to be the longest and oldest in Britain. More than 140 years later, the display of golden Laburnum flowers is no doubt the most visited, photographed and anticipated event of Bodnant Garden’s year.

Of course there are many other aspects of the Garden that I also find relaxing. The rhododendron collection, which dates back more than a century intoxicates passers by with the flowers divine smell. Adding colour to the palette is the scented blossom of viburnums, late flowering magnolias and many other shrubs and trees - including the famous ivory-petalled Handkerchief Tree (I’m not kidding you, it’s an actual thing! The tree’s flowers actually look like handkerchiefs!) and the flame-coloured Chilean Firebush that my Dad likes very much.The Garden really is alive with various sights and smells at this time of the year, the vibrant green is dotted with cascading waterfalls of colour, and no matter how busy it is I always find the open space relaxing and peaceful.

And of course I took my camera with me! I may be out of university but my passion for photography doesn’t end and Bodnant Garden in one of my favorite places to go and take photos. Whilst I wasn’t shooting images for my course I still took the process very seriously as I wanted to best capture the Garden in it’s fully glory. I took many photos of the flowers and trees found in the Garden but also played about with shutter speed when taking photos of the waterfall and other water features. I experimented with using a fast shutter speed to create darker images with the water captured in a static way and also tried out a long shutter speed to capture a smooth texture and flow of the water. Unfortunately not many long shutter speed images turned out blurry as I was struggled to keep the camera perfectly still by balancing it on the stone bridge above the water (note to self: take a tripod next time!).

Whilst some of the photos I took through the day didn’t turn out well, I am still very pleased at many of the others and enjoyed the time playing with my camera, relaxing and taking photos for the sake of taking them and spending time with my parents.

I recommend any other students or budding photographers to go out and play with your camera this summer. Have fun and experiment with settings you may never have touched before. One thing I have learnt through playing with my camera recently, is that not every image has to be prefect; I learnt from mistakes I made but didn’t feel bad for making the mistakes as I was enjoying and having fun whilst taking the images.

So go out and play, push your boundaries (and buttons), and most importantly have fun. You wont regret it!

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