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It’s not easy being first

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Having a conversation with some garden visitors yesterday by the pond, it came to me that we have been, if not first then, early adopters of lots of things that have gone on to be far more widely accepted.

Take the natural swimming pond.

When we put ours in four years ago there was very little to base it on in this country. We’d come across the idea in France and Scandinavia, but these were really lakes in which one could swim rather than a specific place in a garden.   Now we have visitors coming from all over, who are “going to have one” and want to see what is needed, and how it works. Rumour has it that even David & Victoria Beckham are planning one – no doubt far larger / posher / etc.  Just remember we had one first!

Sitting next to the pond is our shepherd’s hut.

Built by a wonderful former shepherd in Dorset, Larry Skeates. Now we see them dotted around all over the countryside, used as holiday homes, offices and, most famously as a ‘writing room’ by David Cameron.

The price has gone through the roof and we no longer have something ‘a bit different’!

On a slightly different tack, our hydro-electric turbine was the precursor to so many more popping up that the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) took a nose dive, and virtually stopped any new schemes dead in the water – to coin a phrase!

 

We switched to cooking, heating the water and the house on wood about 9 years ago.

Great big chunks of wood that got one warm in so many different ways – felling, logging, stacking, cutting, carrying.

Then the Government got in on the act again – and got it wrong again – with the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This encouraged new entrants to burn wood – nothing for us early adopters. It also increased imports, as most of the wood pellets burned by these people come from Ireland or the USA, rather than the woodland outside their doorsteps. No additional “getting warm” episodes either, just bulk delivery, vacuumed into a hopper and incinerated.

We get a nice warm feeling (as well as keeping fit) from all of our efforts and ideas and really enjoy discussing them with our visitors. If truth be told we don’t really mind the Camerons and Beckhams of this world getting to enjoy things we have been enjoying for many years, as long as they remember that we did it first!!

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

 

 

 

 

Tails of pigs

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Somewhat belatedly, we finally have a couple of pigs.  Caroline’s wonderful garden map shows a little piggie waiting to meet our visitors and we’ve been having to explain that we “haven’t got any yet.”

All that changed on Saturday.  After a couple of failed attempts to buy some weaners locally and a somewhat hopeless try at getting some from the market (horrible white, runty things), we were put in touch with a small breeder near Llangynidr by one of our garden visitors – thanks Caroline and Jake from Longtown.

We arranged with Ian and Sarah to collect our pair on Saturday morning.  The big problem to start with was which ones to choose.

Spot your pig!

Sue decided that we’d have a couple of girls – gilts – which narrowed it down.

A bit of Pied Piper work …

follow the food! (Farmers Ian and Sarah in white and red)

…got them penned in to a small area.  Farmer Ian had devised a way to get them from the field to the trailer without the unbelievably hellish sound made by piggies when they are handled by putting them in a big builders, dumpy bag.

All seemed to be going well, one in the bag and the next one selected, when the first one managed to get out. So it was back to Square One Minus One.

To cut a longish story a bit short, we then decided to move them one at a time and soon they were safely in the trailer.

In the trailer

At home, the bag trick worked perfectly and Sandy and Black – they are Oxford Sandy & Blacks, a rare breed – were soon checking out their new home.

Checking the boundaries (1)

Checking the boundaries (2)

They have settled in really quickly, and apart from a penchant to chew ones boots, seem to be lovely and friendly.

Thirsty work, this travelling!

Post-breakfast nap – it’s all right for some!

A quick scratch on a convenient post

More about Sandy and Black (or Bandy & Slack or Blandy & Sack – further (clean) anagrams are welcome!) as they grow, but here’s a nice one to finish …

Sisterly love!

(House and) Garden

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The publicity machine rolls on!  Last week saw the publication of a wonderful article in the (very upmarket) House and Garden magazine.

As with many of these things the wait was long, but very well worth it.

The photos were taken by the wonderfully talented Britt Willoughby Dyer  over two years ago, and so a few things have changed in the interim.

Words are by Abergavenny’s own Sarah Price.  Sarah has visited Nant-y-Bedd on a number of occasions and has mentioned us in one of her articles for Gardens Illustrated, so we were thrilled when she was asked to provide the text for Britt’s photos.

To have two such skilled (and lovely) people write about us makes the garden maintenance so worthwhile.  Thanks also to the team at House and Garden.

Nip out and get a copy before they sell-out, but in the meantime here’s a proof copy to peruse.

First prize

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Yesterday was the annual Llanthony Valley & District Show and Sports.  The weather wasn’t the greatest; wellies and 4x4s were the order of the day.  In addition to the usual vegetable show classes, the Garden Club runs a number of classes for – for want of a better term – vegetables in the ground.  This year there was really only one class which we felt was for us – Most Productive Vegetable Garden.

So we entered, and won! As Sue is now saying, it shows that a veg garden can be both pretty and productive.

Here’s a few of the veg the judges thought worthy of the title.

Cabbage

peas

Sturon onions

and the piece de resistance

the runner bean arch

This year we’ve been following the No-Dig philosophy of Charles Dowding.  Seems to be working!!

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!

 

 

 

Country Homes and Exteriors!

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Yet more exposure for the garden today as Country Homes & Interiors publishes the long awaited article and photos by Carole Drake.

Gwent’s Most Magical!!

I won’t spoil it for you, but here’s part of the double page spread that starts it off (on page 100, since you asked!).

Not so sure about the “Diving”!

And here’s the last page.

The technical stuff

A really big “Thank You” to Carole Drake for persuading us to let her photograph the garden and for getting Country Homes to publish it.

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