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.


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



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 October 2010


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…


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 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?