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Starting the new garden year – on video!

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We were very lucky last week to have a wonderful documentary film-maker staying with us. By some sort of serendipity she phoned us looking for somewhere to stay in the area whilst she did some film editing and looked at a property she was interested in.  So we offered her the use of the garden room in return for making a short video for us.

Sophie Windsor Clive, for that is her name, has done a super job, despite having only one day when the weather wasn’t dull, windy, rainy, snowy and what ever else the elements could throw spanners into the works. Thanks Sophie!!

It is, of course, a view of the garden that most people wouldn’t see – the garden in January.  This is an important time in the gardening cycle.  The work done now sets the tone for the rest of the year.

We hope this insight will arouse your interest in visiting us later in the year.

Just click on the arrow button and enjoy!

Is all wildlife friendly?

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As you will know, we pride ourselves on our wildlife friendliness.  But is all wildlife as friendly as we’d like? We know that our local badgers have a liking for the occasional tulip bulb – OK, have a liking for a LOT of tulip bulbs – but have they now forsaken vegetarianism for a liking for a bit of flesh and blood?

Over the past few nights there’s been a lot of ground disturbance around the duck house.  So we dug out the night vision camera and here’s the result.

Anybody about?

 

Is that a camera? Do I get royalties?? Should have brushed my hair!

Tricky-looking catch on this door

 

Oh well, I’ll have a little dig here then.

Ah! This looks a bit more promising. If only I can move this old garden fork…..

 

…that’s better.

Bit of a squeeze

 

I’m sure there’s something down here

 

Mmm, don’t think I can get any further. Maybe have another look tomorrow!

Fortunately, we don’t think he was after the ducks, maybe a mouse or three, but I can imagine the consternation in the hutch.

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the dates on the pics are a bit in the wrong order, but it makes a better story that way.  We’ve now moved the hutch a few yards and the latest pics suggest that the ducks are quite safe, but we’ll make sure they are safely in bed every night for a while!

Christmas on the Beech

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No, that’s not a spelling mistake in the title.  We’re talking here about beech trees in the dingle, not lovely sandy stretches in the Bahamas.

The big snow of just before Christmas, knocked quite a few branches off trees, particularly some of the conifers in the garden, but nothing too catastrophic.  It was only when I went up to clear the pond pipe and check the hydro intake, that I saw it.  I couldn’t see what I was after, but I could see a lot of tree lying head down across the stream – as reported in the previous post.

One you’ve seen earlier!

OK, so it doesn’t look that huge in this photo but the bit where it split off the rest of the trunk is about 2 foot in diameter and it’s probably 60 foot tall/long.  It is also on both sides of the stream with a steep drop on one side.

The problem was how to make it safe in the first place.  Cut into the wrong bit and there were half a dozen spiky branches just waiting to making a horrible mess of the intake screen – which would have meant turning off the hydro just as it is starting to generate some useful quantities.

First, gain access to the site

After a couple of hours of careful tree surgery I was finally able to see the intake and get access to the pipe – after a fashion!

Much of this ‘brash’ is still there……

….. because it is acting as a fence against the forest sheep, the wire having been smashed down in more than one place.  Still plenty of useful firewood in there eventually though.

Then it was on to the ‘business end’, where once again it was holding the fence down, offering a motorway sized entrance to wildlife.

I had hoped that a cut through just above the wire would allow it to swing the main length up and away, but there were too many branches propping up the main spars so it had to be done in smaller sections until the fence was released and could be repaired.

Getting to grips with the bigger stuff…..

… which is where they still lay, pending a bit of additional muscle (hopefully in the shape of family) as I can’t move this size of log in the length I want on my own.

The smaller (relatively speaking) logs I threw into a rough pile on one side of the stream..

roughly removed..

… and then built a nice cord-wood style stack between a couple of alders.  This pile is roughly 4′ x 5′ x 6′, or according to ArbTalk about 3.2 tons!  And that is probably less than half of what will eventually be harvested.

Tidy!

All that was needed now was a bit of time and the job would be done.

But, guess what?  It snowed again and the tree next up the slope also split apart and dropped three more branches exactly in the same spot. Not quite as big, but equally tangled and disruptive.  So, like the old Flanders and Swann song about the gasman, it all started again yesterday or if you prefer “it all makes work for the (retired) working man to do!”

Still, in a year or two we’ll have a lovely big stack of my favourite firewood to keep us warm – just a lot of carrying, splitting and cutting in the interim!

 

White Christmas comes early

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For those “dreaming of a white Christmas”, the dream came true rather early this year, and for us even earlier than for most.  It was Friday 8th when when woke to about 3″ of snow on a gloomy looking morning.

Looking up the dingle

I decided to try to get a few shots before it all got messed up and dirty (not knowing what was coming a couple of days later!).  Those of you who also follow us on Instagram will have seen this pic before – it’s now our all-time top-ranking photo on that site.

Another one from the same day.

What’s that white tree down by the pond?

Saturday was snow free and the weather forecast for Sunday was either ‘heavy snow’ or ‘heavy rain’ depending on whose forecast you believed.  Well here’s the answer. On Sunday alone we got about 10 inches, which a couple more overnight into Monday.

Bird feeder with added insulation!

Post box proves it is a colour photograph

Wonder why we couldn’t get an internet connection!

Even where there wasn’t much snow the patterns were still interesting.

patio by the tearoom

.. but mostly the snow lay thick and spectacular

Another Instagram post – teazles looking like cotton wool balls

This one was hiding something – see later!

 

Comfortable looking chairs – but not much room to put your cup of tea

Fluffier and fluffier!

Even down in the Spooky Forest things got a covering

Dear old Cedric looked most dignified with his white ‘tache and beard

Blue skies and deep snow – could be Switzerland

But then it began to thaw – but still froze overnight

Turbine icicles

The souffles are going down – looking more like wedding cakes now

But with every silver lining comes a cloud – this huge (you don’t get the scale from here, but the hydro intake is somewhere in the middle of all that ) beech tree split apart just above ground level fortunately without doing too much damage.  Plenty of firewood and lots of exercise will be the result.

This was what was behind the pretty conifer earlier

“our” waterfall benefits from the thawing snow

Finally most of the snow has gone and last night we had this beautiful sunset.

Red sky at night ….

White Christmas?  Doesn’t look so likely now, but we can dream!

 

 

 

A big thanks to all our readers!

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We’ve had a fantastic year – busy, but well worth it.

To start with, we welcomed nearly 900 visitors to the garden, most of them in small groups of two or three, but also the BIG charity weekend for the National Garden Scheme when 233 came streaming through the gates! We also did the Herefordshire (don’t ask!) Gardens in the Wild weekend of which more in Sue’s blog following on soon….!

We also had our very first coach load – the driver was a bit concerned but made it without any mishaps! – and some bespoke events with, for example, the Small Woods Association.

The conversations about the garden, the pond, the hydro and other subjects meant that many people were here for a couple of hours or more – and a good number came back for second and third visits with friends and family, so we must be doing something right.

On the digital front, this blog has hit new heights; over 8,000 views and more than 3,000 visitors already this year. Quite impressive! Getting Sue out of the garden and into blogging mode is one of my big challenges for next year!

We’ve got into Twitter (in a small way) with @nantybeddgarden.  We’ve forged ahead with our Instagram page (click on the button on the right for a full viewing) and now have posted over 170 images of the garden and have nearly 150 followers – just trying to make sure the posts exceed the followers is getting harder to do. An interesting set of contacts have also arisen through comments. We’re about to investigate FaceBook, though it looks a bit scary! And all this without a mobile phone signal!!

And in the New Year we’ll be launching our new Newsletter. Get signed up!

As regular readers will have seen, we had features in Country Homes and Interiors, House and Garden and The Organic Way during the year, and we should be featuring in the Small Woods Association’s magazine early in 2018.  There’s a couple of other potential articles also currently ‘under wraps’ – watch this space!

So, a VERY BIG THANKS to all our readers, followers and visitors, not forgetting those wonderful photographers and writers who have helped spread the word.

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

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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!

 

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