Keeping in touch

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Although the season is over we are still getting calls about our opening times.  The garden, and particularly the paths, need to recover from the pounding of very many feet and a fair amount of wet weather, so we are reluctant to accept any more visitors until the Spring.

But how will you know when we will be open again?  It’s most likely that we will replicate the July to end September weekends next year, but people do ask about the Spring.  Spring comes at different times for us – it is so dependant on the warmth of the sun in the early months, so giving an indication now is almost impossible.

Also Sue is considering holding one or two ‘workshops’.

Sue in full flow – ‘workshop’ style!

So, we have decided to organise a regular e-mail newsletter, which will give an idea of what’s good in the garden at two-monthly intervals. We will, of course, continue with the blog and our Instagram and Twitter feeds.

If you would like to be on the mailing list, drop us an e-mail to garden@nantybedd.com or fill in the Contact Form below and we’ll add your name.  We promise not to use the information for anything other than the newsletter.  Get you friends to ‘subscribe’ as well.

We’ll acknowledge every request so you know we have received it.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


The moral of the compass- a happy tale


A few weeks ago I was just coming out of the yard, when a couple of walkers said “hello”.  This isn’t strange; if I had a pound for every walker who said “hello” or asked a question about the woodstacks or garden, I’d be a rich man. But the male of the pair said “This is a rather unusual question, but do you have a compass I could buy off you?”.   Remembering that we had a spare one hanging in the kitchen, I said “follow me” and we headed back to the house.  When we got there Sue was just coming out and so joined in the conversation.

It turned out that the young couple were just at the start of a 3-4 day walking holiday in the mountains and to save a bit of time had got a taxi from the station to the Car Park just down the road.  They paid off the taxi, shouldered their packs, got out the map and …. “where’s the compass?”.  It had obviously fallen out of the pocket of one of their rucksacks and was now speeding back to Abergavenny.

Now, many people who go walking round here don’t even have a proper map, yet alone a compass, so we immediately warmed to someone so well versed in country navigation.  It turned out that, Roger (as he introduced himself) had always preferred navigating by compass and losing his was a real dampener on their trip.

Feeling good about them, we let them have our spare, on condition they sent it back afterwards.

Well, a couple of weeks then passed and we were beginning to think that we’d never see that compass again.  Then the postman came on Tuesday and handed over a padded envelope.  I knew immediately what it was.   Tearing open the envelope, I found our compass and this lovely hand-written poem…

Moral Compass

One thing I learned when I was young,
was “never lose your compass, son”.
But as Black Mountains loomed ahead
I turned to Mollie and said,
“get her out, our walkers friend”
but in her eyes I saw the end.
“it’s not here, our compass gone”.
Mountains all around, nowhere to don
a new one and all I can think
is “never lose your compass, son.”

On we pressed, not yet defeated
But my sense of humour’s depleted
I can’t believe it
I should have seen it fall
I squall and moan about the route,
without a compass I can’t compute.

But our brief dispute is mended
when we befriended
our first couple of the day.
Ian and Sue, who
with gentle smiles and garden of beauty
kindly lent us a walkers booty.

Couple, garden and cats behind
we left with compass on to find
our bothy at the reservoir.
Over-excited to reserve our
place of sleep for the night,
after such a day of  plight.

But NO, the enemy’s seen ahead
striding on to steal our bed.
Lo and behold, they’re there before,
seeing us they must deplore

But up a mutual chat we strike,
quickly turns friendly and into the night
we drink, reminisce, confide and talk,
simple things after a walk.

This couple for who earlier we had hate
have given us joy into the late
and even gave us the bothy bed
a cosy hut to rest our head.
Such kind people we’ve met today
when it could have ended in disarray.

Ian and Sue, Tim and Lou
this is for people who
look out for others, take time and care.
For you a little poem I can share!

Roger Dipper

Our faith in human nature is restored.  Thank you so much Roger and Mollie and we hope to see you here again sometime – preferably with your own compass!


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


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.



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!!

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