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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Tourist garden boss dead in pool
Martin Puddle, pictured in 2002
Mr Puddle's father and grandfather had also been head gardener
Tributes have been paid to a head gardener and general manager at a top tourist attraction in north Wales, who has been found dead at a pool there.

Staff at Bodnant Garden in Conwy were "shocked and saddened" by the death of Martin Puddle, 54, on Thursday, said owners, the National Trust (NT).

The award-winning garden was closed while police investigated. They later said that the death was not suspicious.

Mr Puddle had been in the post for 23 years.

His body was found in the pool on Thursday and recovered by members of a police underwater search team.

He was general manager and head gardener in charge of NT-owned Bodnant. Both his father and grandfather had been head gardener before him and he was well known in horticultural circles.

Bodnant Garden
More than 80 acres are open to the public

In 2000 it was voted Britain's favourite garden by Daily Telegraph readers of the Daily Telegraph, and it had also won the National Trust Gardens Award.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Friday and a police spokeswoman said that there were no suspicious circumstances.

The garden re-opened on Friday, although some parts of the lower garden remained closed while police completed their investigations.

NT director for Wales Iwan Huws said: "We wish to extend our deep condolences to Martin's family and friends. Our thoughts are with them".

Michael McLaren QC, manager of Bodnant Garden and owner of the Bodnant estate, said it was a "great loss for Bodnant Garden, as well as for his family and many friends".

He said: "All my family, including my wife and my mother Lady Aberconway, are greatly shocked and saddened by Martin's death, and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Bodnant is regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, spanning some 80 acres, and includes a magnificent laburnum arch.

A father of three grown-up children, Mr Puddle had shown many distinguished visitors - including members of the royal family - around the garden.

It sits above the river Conwy on ground sloping towards the west, looking across the valley towards Snowdonia.

The garden opens daily from mid-March until November.

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