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Make your own Christmas Wreath at Nant-y-Bedd

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Our final workshop of this year gives you the chance to make your very own Christmas Wreath for your front door.

The standard to aim for!

Led by Sue, who has many years experience working with her father and more recently her sister to produce fantastic looking wreaths for sale, you will go through the whole process starting with the bare wire rings, then adding moss and locally sourced foliage and cones.  Make up your own slant on the design as you go along. We will be using entirely natural materials, mainly foraged from the garden.

Take time out to enjoy a delicious two-course home-made lunch in Garden Room then, when you are happy with your handiwork, head off home and proudly display your skill on the front door!  When your neighbours ask “Where did you buy that lovely wreath?” you can tell them “I made it!”

With two leaders and only six places, personal attention is guaranteed!   Wednesday 4th December from 10.00 until 3.30pm.   Book early to avoid disappointment!

For more details click here:  Christmas Wreath Making Workshop

The Nation’s Favourite Garden?

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If you follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or get our bi-monthly Newsletter, you should already know that Nant y Bedd Garden has been shortlisted as one of the top 30 gardens in the

english garden logo

and

NGS logo

competition to find “The Nation’s Favourite Garden” !!  How about that?

The competition seeks to find the nation’s (that is England and Wales) favourite National Garden Scheme garden.

There’s over 3500 gardens who open for the scheme, so to be in the top 0.85% is rather heartening, to say the least.

And to make it better we didn’t apply to be in this; we were nominated by a person or persons unknown.

The prizes are to be split along NGS regional lines, so we are up against two others from Wales – Hurdley Hall, in Churchstoke and Ysgoldy’r Cwrt in Tregaron –  and two from England – Wollerton Old Hall in Market Drayton and Stockton Bury near Leominster –  in the Wales and the Marches section.

Looking down the overall list there’s a lot of ‘Halls’, ‘Manors’, ‘Courts’, ‘Old Vicarages’ and ‘Priorys’ plus a little-known place called Great Dixter!!!  Then there’s little us, so you can see we are rather pleased to be in such company.

Voting is open from now until the end of September at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk/ngs and one lucky voter will win a near £5000 cruise on the Danube (courtesy of Viking Cruises).

Scan this code to go straight to the voting page, then scroll down to Wales and the Marches. QR code

Please do vote for us.  If you haven’t been yet, we are open every Friday to Sun from 2pm until 6pm until the end of September (which coincides nicely with the closing date of the votes!)

Let’s see if we can get rid of that ? in the title of this blog!

One small step

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This week 50 years ago we were regaled by what has gone down as one of the most iconic statements in the English language – “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

What’s that got to do with Nant y Bedd Garden, you may well ask?   Well we have finally achieved “one small step for Sue, one giant climb to the top of the treehouse” (with the greatest apologies to Neil Armstrong).

“one small step…”

Yes, after the gestation period of what seems like a whole herd of elephants, the long-awaited treehouse is finally finished.  Conceived back in March 2017 as – ostensibly – a birthday present for Finley, only a mere 29 months later we have the final article.

bare tree at start of project

“You could put a lovely treehouse in that one!”

 

drawing of treehouse

“Yes, just like that!”

Everything seemed be going to be very well when grandson Finley shinned up the ladder to help Mick lay the first bit of floor, on his birthday.

Finley and Mick lay the foundations

Finley gets to grips with the first piece

But it was to be a couple of birthdays later before it was finished.

Mick got caught up in other jobs and that solitary bit of floor stayed that way until late 2018, when Dan Tuckett came along on one of Sue’s garden workshops and let slip that his ‘day job’ was building round-timber structures!   “Ever built one in a tree?” asked Sue. “No, but it must be fairly similar.” Said Dan.

We managed to get both Mick and Dan together one day to discuss what one had planned and the other was going to build.   They seemed to agree and so Dan was given the task of bringing Sue and Mick’s ideas to fruition.

Working through the winter wasn’t really an option, with short days, wet surfaces and the cold winds ripping through the tree, so work was scheduled to start in March 2019 and be completed by our NGS open days at the end of May.

Dan had worked out that he couldn’t do it on his own and really needed someone used to swinging around in trees, as much of the initial work would require skilled ropework.  A good friend of his, Oli Stinchcombe – an experienced tree surgeon-  seemed to fit the bill and the two of them arrived with trailer loads of timber in mid-March.

first poles in place

It is going to happen!

Everything had to be carried the last fifty yards and across the rickety bridge to the tree.  The turbine house became an impromptu store cupboard for tools and bolts and things.

two men and a pole

Carrying onto site

From here on in things progressed smoothly, if not quite to timescale!  Some delays due to timber supplies and the other demands of modern parents conspired to ensure the end of May deadline came and went.  There was an obvious structure there, but it certainly wasn’t usable.

the ribcage takes shape

That’s a floor there!

Seasons go on and levels get higher

We can work in the dry now

Then all of a sudden with the cladding and roof in place, we had a treehouse.  Still quite a few things to do – and the inevitable ‘client’s changes to specification’! – dragged the finish date into July.   But now it is fully functional and a source of great interest to our visitors – it’s even had celebrity endorsement!

Dan basking in the glory (and sunshine)

nearly finished

The great thing about Dan & Oli’s structure is that is hardly impacts on the tree at all.  A couple of dead pieces were trimmed to fit but otherwise the entire framework sits on and around the branches of this magnificent Sycamore, which seems very happy with its new ‘friend’.  As you know we garden organically, and this has evolved organically, with the position of every new beam carefully thought through, rather than blindly following an architect’s drawing.

A big Well Done to Mick for his design ideas, to Dan for making them reality, to Oli for hanging around (literally) in the treetops in sun and rain and of course to Sue for having the original vision.  Me?  I just got in the way and made useless suggestions!

the new “Yoga Studio” / gin deck / kids den / bat roost ????

 

From this to ….

final view of threehouse

….this

And here’s a lovely little video taken by Dan.  (turn the sound up full to hear Sid!!)

Great, isn’t it?

In praise of peas

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Gardens can be colourful and full of flowers OR highly productive vegetable gardens but not particularly colourful or flowery.  Right?  Actually they can be both and the humble pea is a good example of how this can be achieved.

Heritage broad beans, peas and flowers all jostling together in the Potager

Some peas as well as being tasty (one vegetable the grandchildren will eat, raw of course but that’s fine) and highly nutritious can also be a very pretty addition to the garden.  So we can grow peas because they have different coloured flowers as well as producing something edible.  By the way flowers of culinary peas are also edible – but not sweet peas which we grow for the scented flowers.  The shoots and vine tendrils of culinary peas are edible and have the same delicate, pea-like flavour. But only vegetable pea flowers can be eaten. The petals can be added to salads, or cooked slightly and sweetened for a treat.  But not sweet peas flowers – they are poisonous.

I digress.  Here, at 1200 feet in the Black Mountains, we have some challenges in what we can grow due to the shorter growing season and cooler temperatures.  Butternut squash, for example, struggles.  So it’s interesting to look around at what grows in similar conditions elsewhere in the world and also what has been grown traditionally when we were much more dependent for survival on what could actually be grown in our gardens to feed our families. It’s also satisfying and usually successful to grow crops from seeds which a neighbour has given you.

So, coming back to peas, generally they do very well here and this year we are growing a good number which fall into all the above categories.

Let me start with donated seed.  A neighbour, who is a keen veg grower, sowed some pots with Rosakrone Heritage pea but as they had all germinated had far too many so gave us a large pot full.

Checking them out, as we do these days, on the good old inter web I found this description listed with Real Seeds:

Rosakrone NEW
A very unusual heirloom from Sweden, withs beautiful red/pink flowers borne in ‘crowns’ above the foliage. 

It grows to around 4 – 5 foot tall, and looks stunning on a wigwam or peasticks for a decorative feature that also produces lots of tasty peas. Given to us by Vivi Logan, we are delighted to add this to our collection.

Here’s a photo of them this morning.  They are indeed 5 feet tall, very vigorous and the flowers are stunning. We are looking forward to an excellent crop.  The fact that they originated from Sweden and were donated to Real Seeds by a donor in Pembrokeshire is encouraging.  They should do well here.

Rosakrone flowering in the Potager

Other peas also looking good are Ezethas Krombek Blau – a pea we have grown for many years originally acquired from Chase Organic Seeds (now run by Dobies). This also has lovely flowers followed by purple pods which can be eaten as mangetout but also are fine (although not particularly sweet) if you can’t keep up with picking them and they all turn into peas.  I usually have other sweeter peas maturing at the same time so just mix the EKB in with them when cooking and they are fine.

Ezethas Krombek Blau flowering

Purple pods of EKB – edible as mangetout if eaten when flat

We also grow Norli mangetout which are really prolific and we have been picking for weeks.  These have been grown from seed which we have saved from year to year.  Just need to remember to harvest them before the birds do!  Pea and bean seeds if stored in dry conditions will remain viable and will germinate 100% for at least 3 years.  If you store them for any longer than that some will still germinate but the percentage viability tends to reduce.

Norli Mangetout

This year our maincrop peas are Early Onward and Greenshaft, both old varieties that my Dad used to grow.   Greenshaft produces longer pods packed with sweet peas – the kind that win first prize for the longest peas in the village show! Garden writer, Sally Nex says of Early Onward Pea ‘You can eat from the same pea plant all season: tender peashoots in spring, flattened pods as mangetouts shortly after, big fat peas to finish with a few to dry for winter.’

Pea shoots early in the Spring

Just a few words about how we grow peas here with our short growing season and pesky mice which would like to eat them as soon as they are sown!

We grow pea shoots in pots for ease of picking and then once they are at the stage when the shoots are getting a bit tough (after 6 or 7 pickings) we plant them out with hazel sticks to grow them on so that we can save the seeds for the following year.

We sow all other peas early in the year in guttering and then place them in the Garden room which has a little background heat.  As soon as they germinate, they are moved outside still in guttering.  This year EKB and Norli were planted out in the second week in February and the rest the last week. We use our own coppiced hazel sticks for support.

Sowing peas in guttering in the potting shed

Germinated peas moved outside to harden off before planting out – this is in February.

That all seems a long time ago now.  We have been eating pea shoots for months and mangetout for weeks.  Eagerly anticipating the beginning of the pea season.  In the meantime we will be enjoying mangtout tossed in butter and mint for supper…yum.

Mangetout, lightly steamed and tossed in minted butter…

 

 

 

 

Climate Change? What a difference a fortnight makes!

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Having just climbed out of the pond after my second swim of the Easter weekend – a little bracing, but most satisfying – it struck me that only a fortnight ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated a dip.

Having sailed though March with barely a tremor weather-wise, dear old Mother Mature came and bit us on the bum on the 4th April.

April showers??

Where’s the daffs gone?

In common with the higher parts of Wales, we copped about 5 inches of that heavy sticky snow in just 24 hours.  Apart from flattening the daffs, it brought down a few branches including one which has necessitated some repairs to the rope bridge.

Rescued daffs

Within a day most of it had gone, so I had a good session on the hydro, although as so often it all came too quickly rather than just the right amount spread out over more days.

stream in spate

The next few days bumbled along feeling really cold in the wind, but warm and sunny out of it, with the odd frost overnight.

Then came the ‘Bank Holiday Heatwave’ and it has been shorts and T-shirts, skinny-dipping in the pond, barbecues and lunches on the patio.  Oh yes, and some garden visitors.   What a turn around!

bracing but lovely.

Sunshine!

 

 

Workshops and Courses 2019 – Updated

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Please note that workshops and courses in 2020 will be posted in November:  Check back later for a fantastic new list!

 

It’s all go here at Nantybedd Garden, not only making the most of the weather to get out into the garden, but also because we have been approached by a couple more wonderful experts asking to run their own courses here.

So we now have:

Led by Sue Mabberley (Nantybedd Garden)

Wild Gardening     Wed 24thApril, Wed 25thSeptember Fully booked.    Extra date: 1st October – also fully booked

Wild

Compost making   Wed 19thJune, Wed 24thJuly

How to make the crumbly brown gold….

Organic veg growing   Wed 22nd May

Veg basket includes Heritage varieties Blue Coco French bean and Crimson-flowered broad bean

Christmas Holly Wreath making    Wed 4th December

Make your own Holly Wreath in 2019

£55 (20% RHS Member discount) incl 2-course lunch, tea & cakes. 10.00 to 3.30

Contact us on garden@nantybedd to book

 

Foraging   Led by Liz Knight (Forage Fine Foods)

            Wed 1stMay, Mon 3rdJune, Mon 1stJuly, Tue 27thAugust,

Mon 16thSeptember, Mon 7thOctober, Mon 4thNovember

Liz is so enthusiatic

£65 incl lunch, teas.  10.00 to 2.00

Details/booking at www.foragefinefoods.com

 

Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)     Led by Carina Greenwood

            Mon 20thMay, Mon 24thJune, Mon 23rdSeptember

Wood sorrel in the forest sun

£50    10.30 to 4.15    Bring picnic lunch

Details/booking at www.forestbathe.co.uk

 

Blueprints Workshop

   Led by Ruth Barnes Richards

            Sat 22ndJune. 10.00 to 3.30    EXTRA DAY ON AUGUST 31ST  – BOOK NOW:  last few places remaining

Blue and beautiful

£55   Materials included.  Bring picnic lunch

Details/booking at www.thedaylightthief.com

 

Taking the Mystery Out of Plant Diseases    Led by Dr. Mary Barkham

Postponed due to personal circumstances.  Will be re-planned for 2020

            Wed 11thSeptember. 10.00 to 3.30

£55  (20% RHS Member discount) including lunch

Details/booking at marymbarkham@hotmail.com

 

We look forward to seeing you here at Nantybedd Garden!

Shinrin-yoku or 森林浴 (Forest Bathing)

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I do hope the Japanese characters at the top are the right ones – I got them from the website of our latest event provider!

Shinrin-yoku or Forest Bathing is becoming very popular in the UK and now it comes to Nant y Bedd Garden.  It will also be at the Chelsea Flower Show, where the Duchess of Cambridge is helping to design the RHS display, including a bit for Forest Bathing!  As usual we are bang up to date with all the latest trends!

It means ‘bathing’ all the senses, whilst walking slowly in the forest.

When taking in the forest atmosphere like this, the brain naturally switches off from the ‘sustained directed attention’ of life’s daily pressures. Shinrin-yoku is restorative, both mentally and physically, like a bath.

woodland and river

Idyllic spot for a bit of Forest Bathing

Walking in the forest in this way is not like hiking in the woods, nor indeed does it involve collecting or recording information and images like a naturalist or for social media.

You can find out a lot more about it on Carina Greenwood’s site, Forest Bathe.

Carina will be leading three groups here at Nant y Bedd, taking in our conifer woodland, riverbank and of course other parts of the garden.

Dates are currently fixed for 20th May, 24th June and 23rd September.  All of these are Mondays, so a lovely way of starting the week! Days will start at 10.30 and go through until about 4.00pm.  Find out more by clicking the ‘BOOK’ tab on the Forest Bathe site.

We are really looking forward to this fascinating addition to the Workshops and Events roster here this year.

 

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