The steepness can be seen in the photo below - looking down onto part of the Dell. The planting is naturalistic, with beautiful massess of rhododendrons and azaleas, supported by ferns, primulas, meconopsis and many other herbaceous plants. At the bottom of the Dell, as well as the river, are a whole range of trees, many of them 'champion trees', including several redwoods.
We were lucky enough to be taken off into one of the currently closed areas by one of the gardeners. This is on the opposite side of the Dell to the house, and Lady Aberconway has a seat where she can sit and look back at Bodnant Hall.
In the closed off area, they have been clearing Rhododendron ponticum, to try and reduce the likelihood of spread of Phytophthora ramorum ('sudden oak death'), something which is being done across a lot of National Trust gardens.
It was a relief to get out of the heat into the coolness of the dell. Many of the azaleas and rhododendrons at Bodnant were bred there.
This view down the river shows the azaleas in full bloom - magical in the dappled sunshine.
More massed azaleas next to the waterfall. Whilst they can look a bit 'plonked' in a more suburban garden, and so have been plants that I haven't really admired in the past, in an environment like this, they make absolute sense. Walking down the slope through rhododendrons in full bloom, you can try to imagine how exciting it must have been for plant hunters such as 'Chinese' Wilson & Frank Kingdon Ward to come across a new species flowering its socks off in its natural environment.
At the bottom of the Dell, as well as down some of the steep ravines, are swathes of candelabra primulas reaching for the sky.
Put all these plants together and you get a view like this - if it wasn't for Nigel Colborn banning the word, I would call this stunning. So, instead I will call it fabulous, beautiful, inspiring, lush, heavenly and an absolute 'must visit'. And I haven't even shown you the Embothriums.