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Virtual Tour of Nantybedd Garden – Part Three

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Concluding our virtual tour of the garden as it was this May. It has been an interesting exercise, not least in the decision making process of what constitutes a ‘good’ picture and what doesn’t – let’s just say we din’t agree every time!

Day 10

The wildflower meadow. A little bit of cheating here, as we have included some shots of flowers in our new field, part of which will become a wildflower haven in the future, and a couple of things from the cottage garden. But first of all….

The path through the meadow by the pond
Fox and Cubs by the house
Yellow rattle by the apple trees
Aquilegia by the pond
Ox-eye daisy
Stitchwort in the new field
Lady’s smock
Pignut, plus some Lady’s Smock and buttercup
…and a dew covered cobweb!

Day 11

The star of Alan Titchmarsh’s visit last year, when I had to give him a telling off for running on the bridge and scaring the ducks – watch the clip posted last autumn!

Built about 12 years ago to Sue’s specifications by Daryl Rogers, the rope bridge is always a big talking point for visitors – some think it is too wobbly, others just want to cross it again and again.

Low-down looking towards the pond
Looking from the pond …
…and looking from a higher point

Day 12

We come back across the road to the original areas of the garden around the house. Immediately around the house is the Cottage Garden.

Bright morning sun illuminates the planting by the patio
The wonderful bronze leaved Rodgersia
The Alliums are looking good this year
A bit of everything below the greenhouse!
Sweet Rocket, with Iris and Bistort behind by the little pond
I think the run-off from the compost heap makes this lot grow so well!
Alpine strawberry, carrot, parsnip and, in the background, peas
Flowering Chives, Myrtle, Good King Henry and dark purple Aquilegia

Day 13

We reach the end of the tour in the Forest Fruit Garden where we find not only the usual strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, rhubarb, blueberries, asparagus and walnuts but unusual things like Honeyberry, Japanese Wineberry (taste like wine gums!), a tea bush and …

..the Sichuan peppercorn tree, with Aquilegia and Welsh Poppies
in the foreground is the Asparagus bed
Strawberries? Yes! Musk Strawberries- native of Eastern Europe.
One of the Plane Trees lit by the early morning sun
Looking across the Cottage garden from under the Walnut Tree
Fancy a cuppa?
Stunning Maple (l) and Walnut tree (r) shade the comfrey bed
A bit of art to finish off!

We’ll probably post some bonus pictures – those that didn’t quite make the final cut in the next week or so, but we hope you enjoy being able to ‘visit’ our garden even though you can’t actually be here at the moment.

A Virtual Tour of Nantybedd Garden – Part 2

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The second of what will be three parts of our current virtual tour of the garden.

Day 6

We move into the Spooky Forest. Planted many, many years ago by the Forestry Commission as a Christmas tree nursery – if you are good with heights we’ll lend you a saw to cut a ‘tree’ from the tops!! – and never really managed. There’s also some lovely, huge, Douglas Fir at each end, and a few stands of Ash, at the moment.

Looking skyward- there’s Christmas trees up there!
Not all logs reach the fireplace.
This lovely rill lined with wood sorrel runs through
…and Wild Garlic is starting to thrive
We hope we don’t lose this lovely old Ash
The Eagle’s Nest – something odd happened up there!
Why it’s called the Spooky Forest!
Name the native broadleaf trees in this pic!

Day 7

Do you remember the song “Down by the Riverside”? Well, that’s where we were on day seven. We’ve about 250 yards of river along this stretch (plus about another 350 alongside our new field) and, after clearing decades of brash and brambles, all sorts of flowers have sprung up.

Bluebells and Stitchwort, with Ian’s fave chair in the background
The stone in the river is quite geometric
Ferns unfurling
More bluebell with Pignut
A nice place to sit and let the world go by …
…or climb down and dangle your toes in the water

Day 8

Heading back into the garden, hidden in the embrace of an 178 year old Sycamore (we have its birth certificate, if you don’t believe me!) is our much loved treehouse. Designed and built by Dan Tuckett (after an initial plan by Mick Petts) with help from tree-climber Oli Stinchcombe, it is both a thing of beauty and a great place to spend some quality time listening to the birds and the river.

The shape of the tree was just crying out for this, and Dan and Oli managed to do it all with only three (stainless steel) bolts into the tree itself, the rest is clamped round and counter-balanced. Fantastic job!

The main A-frame
Looking down the path with the new gate in the distance
View from the new field
Halfway seat – with convenient drink holder!
Looking back toward the turbine house …
…and down to the river.

Day 9

Today we get to the pond. A wonderful place to sit and chill, or even more wonderful to slip into and bash out a few lengths of breaststroke. The border planting keeps the water crystal clear by gulping up any algae-inducing nutrients and looks beautiful as well. If the weather turns, then a quick dash to the shelter of the Shepherd’s Hut is all that is needed.

Grasses can be beautiful too
Pale lilac Iris just coming into show
Cotton grass and looking down the valley
Shepherd’s Hut and Sue’s little yacht
Big Gunnera and huge Douglas Fir behind
Sit, sleep or read – the choice is there

Do enjoy our pictures. We are not sure at present whether we will be able to open this year. But keep watching here and on Instagram.

More pics in a few days

A Virtual Tour of Nantybedd Garden -Part One

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This weekend should have seen our annual opening for the National Garden Scheme, but the COVID-19 has put a firm end to that, so this week and next we are posting a series of images on Instagram and Facebook to help you to get your ‘fix’ of our lovely garden.

We are following the route that Sue takes in her Candide Gardening audio tour, and today we reach day 5.

We do hope you enjoy these pictures and will come – maybe again – to visit us when we can open. At this point in time it is all so uncertain that we can’t even say whether we will be open at all this year.

Day one

The woodyard, which as visitors will recall is the start of the Nantybedd tour, our meet and greet place.

The attention grabbing pyramid
Looking down from the road
Pea sticks and the hardwood stacks

Day two

and we move into Sue’s little domain – the potting shed – the hub of all that happens in the garden – or Home as Sue calls it!

The door to Home
She doesn’t actually use those riddles!
Potting on .. in the potting shed
Dried flowers from former years .. and redundant signs this year
Seed storage and tools

Day three

We move back outside to yet another key factor in our gardening ethos – compost. You may have been on one of Sue’s Compost Making workshops or seen our earlier published video (which has been used by the National Garden Scheme) on making the perfect compost. If you haven’t then it’s a potential Oscar winner!

The composting hub
Owl keeps a close eye on the leafmould bin
Compost in use on the spuds
Compost bins come in all shapes …
…. and sizes!

Day four

Through the gate into the potager, home of flowers and vegetables, and wonderful hazel support frames.

Welcome desk!
Through the gate – the onions are looking good
Recycled windows make a great cold frame
Planting out the runner beans at the tunnel
Hazel sweet pea supports

Day five

Venturing through the runner bean tunnel, we come to our tree carving Cedric, who symbolises our approach to editing nature, not dominating it.

Cedric and a bit of Sweet Cicely
Close-up Lovely green ‘hair’!
Sue does like writing Haikus
Self seeded conifers …
…and ferns
Just then along came the ducks!

There’s more to come. We’ll be publishing some more early next week – keep watching.

You can also help the National Garden Scheme to continue to support such worthy health and nursing charities as Macmillan Cancer Support and Queen’s Nursing Institute – to name but two – by donating to our JustGiving page – scan the QR code below with your phone or tablet for instant access to our page.

It’s bluebell time by the river

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Continuing our series of short videos so that you can see a little bit of what you might have seen if we were able to open.

After we purchased the woodland and riverbank, we cleared years of fallen branches, matted with groves of bramble, all along the bank.

Without any planting, we now have a few rapidly growing patches of bluebells, establishing themselves with glee in the shade of the hazels.  The big irony is that for years we’ve been trying to establish bluebells in the garden, with only limited success!

 

 

Somehow I managed to stay upright whilst walking/filming – does one look at the screen or the ground? –  so apologies for a slightly uneven view.

The river, the Grwyne Fawr, feeds into the Usk at Glangrwyney, delineates the boundary between Powys and Monmouthshire and is a Special Area of Conservation – not bad for ‘our river’!

Yesterday we were delighted to find that we are featured this week on the National Garden Scheme Virtual Tours, which concentrates on the more formal (if that’s not a contradiction at Nantybedd!) parts of the garden.  Our video makes a nice counterpoint.

As well as, hopefully, giving you some enjoyment, the other reason for these posts is to ask you to help the National Garden Scheme (for whom we would have been opening for the 15th year at the end of the month) to make up the massive expected shortfall in the funds which they are usually able to give to a raft of really deserving – especially at this time – health and nursing charities.

The NGS is the biggest single contributor to both Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie, usually donating around £500,000 to each every year.  Other major beneficiaries include the Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and Hospice UK.    At present a shortfall of around 80% is forecast with gardens being unable to open.

Instead of visiting us you can simply click here or scan the code below and make a much needed donation directly to the National Garden Scheme. Please be generous at this time.

I make no apology for repeating this request as the Scheme is so important to the future of the above health and nursing charities and the people who make them work..

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Chilling by the pond

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Continuing our theme of posting short videos to make up for the fact that you won’t be able to visit for quite a while yet, we hope that this little clip of Sue’s sailing boat on the pond might make your lockdown a little easier.

The boat is quite amazing in it’s ability to keep itself going.  Once launched I had no hand in it’s movement at all – there’s a short bit removed when it was stuck for a few moments, but even then it freed itself and set off on another journey round it’s own little ocean.

Turn the sound up to enjoy the silence and birdsong – no traffic, no planes.  Let us know if you can identify the birds – we are hopeless at it!

The water is crystal clear as the marginal planting does its clever job, allowing us to see loads of tadpoles, newts, great diving beetles, dragonfly larvae and others.

As well as, hopefully, giving you some enjoyment, the other reason for these posts is to ask you to help the National Garden Scheme (for whom we would have been opening for the 15th year at the end of the month) to make up the massive expected shortfall in the funds which they are usually able to give to a raft of really deserving – especially at this time – health and nursing charities.

The NGS is the biggest single contributor to both Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie, usually donating around £500,000 to each every year.  Other major beneficiaries include the Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and Hospice UK.    At present a shortfall of around 80% is forecast with gardens being unable to open.

Instead of visiting us you can simply click here or scan the code below and make a much needed donation directly to the National Garden Scheme. Please be generous at this time.

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Thank you

Here’s the video.

 

A quick audio preview

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Regular readers of this blog and our newsletter will recall that last Autumn Sue and the wonderful people from Candide recorded an audio tour of our lovely garden.  The tour describes about a dozen different aspects of the garden, giving some history and the whys and wherefores of the particular planting or feature.

For those of you who have visited this is a chance to relive your experience and, maybe, to have that lightbulb moment when that puzzling bit of the garden suddenly makes more sense!

For those still to visit – and we hope that won’t be too far into the future – the tour is an opportunity to understand a bit about Nant y Bedd Garden before you come along. Hopefully it will encourage you to visit!

The full tour is about 50 minutes long, but now Candide have produced this short preview to whet your appetite!  The full tour can be found by downloading the free Candide app (here’s a shortcut) to your phone or tablet, click on Places, search for Nant y Bedd, click on the audio tour, then follow the numbers on the aerial photo.   Then you can sit back and enjoy Sue’s dulcet tones in the comfort of your locked down living room.

AUDIO TOUR PREVIEW

Nant y Bedd Garden

Apologies for the little advert at the end, but this is something to do with the YouTube set-up that Candide needed to produce the clip so it would work on our site.

 

Traffic silence = Birdsong

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Just a few sounds for you today.

A somewhat uncommunicative owl from last night as we had a quick stroll to check the forest barriers were locked – essential travel!!

 

…and a much more tuneful Dawn Chorus from early this morning.

With virtually no planes and no traffic, it’s lovely to hear the birds as they should be.

A tale of many mulches

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Our latest video clip of the garden features Sue explaining the different mulches that she is using on each segment in the circular bed around the Szechuan peppercorn tree.

Keep a look out for Oreo photo-bombing in the last few frames!

The power of water

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Continuing our current video posts (or should that be vlogs?), here’s a little snippet of one part of our river, before and after Storm Dennis.

We’ll be continuing to vlog this and other aspects of the garden over the next months, so you can see the best of the garden from your armchair.  For example, just along the bank from here will be carpeted in bluebells in May, and we wouldn’t want the “Virus Thing” to stop you seeing them!  Keep logging in.

In the first part you can see the clearly defined ‘tongue’ of water. At the time of filming it the river was a bit up, so you can’t easily see the two huge flat stones which usually stayed dry on either side (mini waterfalls in this clip).  The gap was just wide enough for the cats to be able to leap from one stone to the other, crossing the river without getting their paws wet!

In the second part, you see it as it is today.  Even at the current low level of water, the two stones are well under water and the ‘tongue’ has completely disappeared.  Instead of a rush of water the whole area is now almost a millpond.  Look how much stone has been displaced to where the ‘tongue’ would have been.

Further down the river, alongside our new field, there’s a big waterfall, which was always straight across.  Now it is V-shaped!

The power of water!!

Another video lovely

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Continuing our series of short garden videos, here’s one for all of us who find the sound of running water so relaxing.

Being where we are, we have no shortage of running water.  The Nant y Bedd – Stream of the Grave – running through the garden and feeding into the beautiful Grwyne Fawr.  And then we have our ‘adopted’ waterfall on the opposite bank, which is unfortunately never as spectacular when our summer visitors are here as it can be throughout the rainy winter months.

We hope you will be able to visit at some point this year and enjoy the soothing sounds.

A little video for you

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In these difficult times, we thought we would try to lighten your days (or make you even more frustrated that you can’t get out!) by uploading a few little videos of the garden as it is now and as it progresses over the next few months.

As a starter, and especially for all those who like to think of themselves as a kind of Indiana Jones, here’s one of the rope bridge.

Hope it works!

Beans, beans, beans

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‘Twas a strange day in the Nant-y-Bedd garden today.  We were working together! It was, albeit a bit later than usual due to the inclement weather, the time to construct this year’s bean tunnel.

A lot of ‘harvesting’ of hazel rods had been going on recently and in order to get the cars out of the yard, something had to be done.

The Runner Bean tunnel is widely admired by our visitors, but they only usually see it covered in beans.  So here you can see the skeleton and the amount of work that goes into it.

First the sticks have to be cut and brought into the potager.

Just some of the hazel sticks

Each stick needs to be fairly straight and without branches in the wrong place, otherwise they tend to break as they are bent.

Then the framework starts to take form.

the first few hoops

From here on it’s a case of getting matching pairs of hazel rods and tying them in to the the top ‘stretcher’.

adding more hoops

It is very much a two person job, pushing the rods into the soil, bending them over at the right height and then tying them into the arch position; one under, one over the stretcher.

teamwork!

Eventually we have 25 rods each side, giving 50 planting positions for the plants.

To make it more secure, and with the winds we have had in some summers this is essential, we run a further sideways set of rods to keep everything in just the right place.

Pretty much finished

By the time you visit you’ll hardly be able to see the frame for the green beans hanging down.

A tunnel of ?????

The beans are nearly ready to be planted out, and then they will be climbing faster than you can believe. Come and see for yourself.

Oh yes! the string to pull it all together is natural sisal baling twine – none of your plastic stuff!

The garden today

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August Bank Holiday and too busy to compose a blog – harvesting produce, trimming hedges, weeding paths, and enjoying the long-awaited sunshine and our visitors.  Lots of lovely enthusiastic comments in our visitors’ book so they are obviously enjoying the garden too.  Here’s just one from 2 visitors (thanks Pam and Chris) yesterday:

‘Absolutely enchanting.  What a special place.”

Here are some photos of the garden today to whet your appetite if you haven’t visited yet…

Phlox, Monarda and Michaelmas daisy in the cottage garden

 

The Pumpkins and squashes are finally getting away through the Michaelmas daisies

 

Lily African Queen in the cottage garden

 

Calendula Nova and runner beans Scarlet Emperor and Black Pod in the Potager

 

Our visitors love this Monarda in the Potager

Dahlia New Baby planted the year my grand-daughter was born – she’s 6 now. Supports on loan from Kirsty – thank you.

 

Starting to harvest the onions in the Potager

 

Mary’s daisies – I love yellow in the garden even in the summer – some people don’t!

 

Leek seedheads and Munchen Bier radish flowering – because we eat the seed pods

 

Oh and the other thing that’s keeping me busy is preparing a talk which I’ve been invited to give to the Hardy Plant Society next Saturday – entitled ‘Gardening in the Wild’.  Here’s a taster…

Greater willowherb amongst the veg in the Potager

The common name for this lovely willowherb is Codlins-and-cream and is a food plant for the fat grey and black caterpillars of the Elephant Hawk-moth.  Who knew?

Whilst I don’t find time as often as I should to write a blog we do put photos regularly on Instagram @Nantybeddgarden

 

 

 

 

Words and pics

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We thought we would let those of you who don’t follow us on Instagram or Twitter have a quick look at what’s great in the garden and some of the lovely comments in the Visitors Book over the past few weeks.

Rain on the sweet peas (Photo: Lizz Saxon)

My heart feels at ease, my breath deeper. I am so grateful for the love and care felt in this place. 

Honeysuckle Serotina by the small pond

Pure Magic! Thank you for your beautiful, creative and awe-inspiring display!

Wild raspberry – great flavour!

Wildlife is amazing! Scenery is beautiful! Pond epic! Great place for kids!!

Rosebay Willow herb and Kiwi Fruit in the woodyard

What an amazing garden!  Thank you for sharing it with us. 

a riot of colour

A beautiful place to visit. Nature has been captured in this mesmerising and magical piece of land.  I’ll never see ground elder in the same light again!

Lilium Regale on the patio

Tranquil, immersive, relaxing, absorbing, natural, beautiful, encouraging, thought provoking, enchanting. imaginative fascinating, magical, stunning, incredible … the list goes on!   {edited from a much longer list – Ian}

Looking down the potager

Just one word to sum it up ….. enchanting!

Clematis by the tea-room

Every nook and cranny brings joy … Gorgeous!

Primula Florindae with Fox & Cubs in the background

Truly delightful and magical garden gave me a lot of inspirational ideas. 

… and that’s just a few of the comments. Come and add yours to The Book!

 

 

 

The Garden Year

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At the turn of the year there’s a tendency to look forward to the new gardening season and reflect on the past years – what’s worked, what didn’t and why, and so on.  So I’ve spent a happy hour or so whilst it was too wet and windy for even me to venture out, going back through our past catalogue of photos, attempting to select ones which reflect what’s looking good in the garden at different times of the year.

The pictures range across the years, but are as relevant today as when they were taken.  I’ll be adding new ones as time goes on, but these will give you a good idea of what to expect when you visit.

So starting with January here goes:

snow in January 2013

snow in January 2013

This is the time of year when the structure of the garden is all important – looking out of the office window in January at the moss-covered dry stone walls with ferns along the top, the tall straight clean stems of the huge conifers (we have brashed them up as high as we can go to let more light in and also enjoy their majesty), and the rope suspension bridge across the raging stream, leading to the natural swimming pond and the view down the valley.

mossy dry stone walls

mossy dry stone walls

rope bridge today

rope bridge today

We’re told that it’s a good idea – visually and for wildlife – to be not too enthusiastic cutting down vegetation in the autumn – but that’s ok until we get high winds which knock everything flat and/or break things off.  At the moment I need to do a rescue job on a willow arch which I hadn’t got around to trimming – it’s been whipped into angles of about 45% rather than up-right.  Some things we do leave though – like teasels – until they too are blown over and have to go.

teasels February 2010

teasels February 2010

One of the first real signs of Spring in our garden is the sight of the Hellebore flowers starting to appear in January and February amongst  the detritus of last year .  I must get out there are cut off the old leaves and remove fallen leaves and twigs so that I can enjoy the flowers without a guilt trip every time I walk through that part of the garden.

Hellebores February 2012

Hellebores February 2012

Hellebores are followed by snowdrops and crocuses naturalised under fruit trees and then daffs and narcissus, hyacinths and then tulips.  Some were here when I arrived 36 years ago and I have added more each year. Daffs seem to be quite happy and get better each year, tulips I have always to replenish annually.

crocuses and snowdrops

crocuses and snowdrops

February is also the time of year with much activity in the wildlife pond and the natural swimming pond – it will be interesting this year to see if the toads return to the swimming pond – they seem to prefer the deeper water and attach their spawn – long strings of it – to the yellow flags at the edge of the pond.

frogs February 2009

frogs February 2009

March sees me well underway with starting off veg in the propagator and greenhouse for planting out later.

Peas in guttering March 2010

Peas and mangetout in guttering March 2010

When we’re into April the spring bulbs really get going with putting on a show.

Daffs under Jedda's tree

Daffs under Jedda’s tree

Rhubarb and hyacinths 2011

Rhubarb and hyacinths April 2011

I like mixing flowers into the veg beds – Ian and I don’t agree on this one!

tulips and hyacinths April 2011

tulips and hyacinths April 2011

More tulips…

tulips April 2011

tulips April 2011

and more..

Red Appledoorn tulips

Red Appledoorn tulips

and more..

tulips and Rodgersia

tulips and Rodgersia

and yet more…

tulips in pots on the terrace

tuilips in pots on the terrace

and yet more as we move into May

tulips with alliums

tupips with alliums

I like tulips.

I always plant a selection of my favourite tulips from the earliest to the latest to enjoy a long season.  Last year I experimented with some varieties that are supposed to be more perennial than others I grow – which need replenishing every year – and also naturalising some in grass.  We shall see whether they escaped the attentions of the badger which we had visiting regularly last year.

June is when the veg garden starts to get going.

broad beans June 2011

Crimson-flowered broad beans June 2011

onions and hops

Onions and hops

And the ferns on the stream bank are lovely at this time when they are a fresh bright green.

ferns June 2010

ferns June 2010

July is possibly my favourite time in this garden – so no surprise that this is when we will open for the National Garden Scheme in 2017.

courgettes and parsnip flowers

courgettes and parsnip flowers

teasels and toadflax

teasels and toadflax in the potager

alliums and grasses

alliums and grasses

across the lawn

across the lawn in the cottage garden

lillies

lilies

And in August the show continues.

lilies on the terrace

lilies on the terrace

Into September when we, along with the butterflies, are enjoying the flowers and the fruits of our labours, whilst moving onto the next crops like over-wintering salad.

butterflies on sedum

speckled wood and small tortoiseshell butterflies on the sedum

sedum etc

sedum, verbena bon and veronicastrum in the cottage garden

sedum and Mum's fuchsia

sedum and Mum’s fuchsia

winter salads

winter salads – mibuna, mizuna, mustards, rocket September 2009

In October we are harvesting pumpkins and enjoying the autumn flowers.

pumpkins

pumpkins October 2010

dahlias

dahlias October 2012

rudbeckia etc

Rudbeckia and Montbretia next to the wildlife pond October 2010

grass etc

Jardin de Plume (that’s where I bought it) grass 

wildlife pond

wildlife pond

November is continuing to harvest…

apples

trug of our apples Tom Putt and Howgate Wonder

a carrot and kale in the kitchen

a carrot and kale in the kitchen

December might bring more snow to close the year…

molinia

Molinia December 2010

So, what is the best time to visit our garden?  Well it depends on what you like, but we think that there is usually something which is worth looking at and enjoying at any time of the year.  But we would say that wouldn’t we?