Bodnant Viburnum: Happiness, Joy, Gracefulness, and Youth

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

During the coldest time in winter, the light pink and fragrant flowers of ‘Dawn’ Bodnant viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’) bloom beautifully on its branches, making it one of the most unique displays of a winter garden.

In fact, Bodnant viburnum is only one of the hundreds of ornamental viburnum varieties. These viburnums are excellent garden shrubs, consisting of ornamental flowers, leaves, and fruit all in one plant. In terms of blooming during winter, the flowers emerge gracefully from the snow.

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

You would consider Bodnant viburnum blooming in the winter an accident because its parent plants V. farreri and V. grandiflorum both bloom in the spring. V. farreri gave Bodnant viburnum its fragrance while V. grandiflorum made it more resistant to the cold.


As the name suggests, Bodnant viburnum is selectively bred in Bodnant Gardens. In 1935, the garden was also the private property of Baron Aberconway, and its chief gardener was Charles Puddle. It was from this garden in North Wales that this popular variety was selected, from more than ten hybrid seedlings.

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

Summer in Bodnant Gardens

In 1949, the garden was given to the British National Trust and now it is open to the public all year round, with only three days off for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In addition to being the home of Bodnant viburnum, Bodnant Gardens also has a collection of various ornamental plants from all over the world, including magnolia, embothrium, eucryphia and rhododendron collections. They also have the longest laburnum arch which is a spectacle when it blooms in May and June.

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

Spring in Bodnant Gardens

Why “arrowwood”?

Although it was discovered in the 1930s, Bodnant viburnums have little to do with bows and arrows. However, in early times, they were indeed one of the main materials used for making arrow shafts. Their lateral branches are long and rigid, and more importantly, they have the perfect thickness and straightness. Without much further processing, they can be qualified as a ready-made body of an arrow.

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Arrow Made of Traditional craftsmanship

There has been a long history of making arrow shafts with viburnums and it can even be traced precisely back to prehistoric times. Under the snow of the Austrian-Italian border, natural mummies formed of prehistoric humans have been discovered. Ötzi the iceman was discovered and along with it a history of 5100 to 5400 years. The bodies of the 14 bows he carried were all made of branches from V. lantana and Cornus mas.

A warning about the berries

Viburnums produce attractive berries that can turn red, blue, purple, or black when they mature. Many viburnum berries are edible, such as V. lentago, V. edule, V. nudum, etc. They can be eaten raw, cooked or made into jam.

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Enticing Viburnum Berries

If you desire to eat V. opulus, take caution because there is slight toxicity when the berries are not ripe. A huge intake of them might cause you to vomit and have diarrhea. Only with thoroughly cooking its berries can you avoid the risk of toxicity. Other viburnums, such as V. suspensum, are not safe to eat, even when they are ripe.

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

Appetizing Berries of V. opulus

Can I grow a decent viburnum?

Viburnums are great horticultural plants. You can see the flowers bloom in winter or spring, and fruit in summer and autumn. Furthermore, many of its varieties have beautiful leaves. In autumn, the leaves of deciduous varieties turn bright red or purplish-red. More importantly, viburnums are very easy to grow well. As long as you choose the right variety to adapt to the garden environment and water them properly, you will rarely encounter problems related to pests.

Flower of the Week: Moth Orchid

Viburnum berries and leaves in autumn

Bodnant viburnums prefer moist soil. Adding a layer of wood chips or mulch on the ground not only maintains the soil moisture but also inhibits the growth of weeds.

Size: 2.4-3 m (8-10 ft) tall

Hardiness: USDA zone 4-7

Sunlight: full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist but well-drained

Bloom time: deep fall to early spring