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Chilling by the pond

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Continuing our theme of posting short videos to make up for the fact that you won’t be able to visit for quite a while yet, we hope that this little clip of Sue’s sailing boat on the pond might make your lockdown a little easier.

The boat is quite amazing in it’s ability to keep itself going.  Once launched I had no hand in it’s movement at all – there’s a short bit removed when it was stuck for a few moments, but even then it freed itself and set off on another journey round it’s own little ocean.

Turn the sound up to enjoy the silence and birdsong – no traffic, no planes.  Let us know if you can identify the birds – we are hopeless at it!

The water is crystal clear as the marginal planting does its clever job, allowing us to see loads of tadpoles, newts, great diving beetles, dragonfly larvae and others.

As well as, hopefully, giving you some enjoyment, the other reason for these posts is to ask you to help the National Garden Scheme (for whom we would have been opening for the 15th year at the end of the month) to make up the massive expected shortfall in the funds which they are usually able to give to a raft of really deserving – especially at this time – health and nursing charities.

The NGS is the biggest single contributor to both Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie, usually donating around £500,000 to each every year.  Other major beneficiaries include the Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and Hospice UK.    At present a shortfall of around 80% is forecast with gardens being unable to open.

Instead of visiting us you can simply click here or scan the code below and make a much needed donation directly to the National Garden Scheme. Please be generous at this time.

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Thank you

Here’s the video.

 

Perfect Compost making – and a plea

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We were due to hold one of Sue’s “excellent” (participant’s quote, not ours!) Compost Making workshops at the beginning of June, but that isn’t now going to happen due to the virus.

So we’ve made this short video to whet your appetite for some date in the future.

This is just a very quick run through of the why’s and wherefore’s of making a really wonderful compost which you can use in so many ways around the garden.

As we are also not going to be able to open for the National Garden Scheme as planned at the end of May, we are looking for ways of replacing the £1000+ that we are normally able to pass to the scheme to support such a wonderful set of health and nursing charities.

So, if you like this video, find it useful or are just wanting a way to support the NGS charities, we have set up a JustGiving page where all donations will go directly to the NGS to help make up the expected 80% shortfall in funds this year.

Please just click here (or use the QR code below) and give what you can to support health workers at Macmillan, Marie Curie, Queen’s Nursing Institute and others.  It is so important at this time.

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A quick audio preview

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Regular readers of this blog and our newsletter will recall that last Autumn Sue and the wonderful people from Candide recorded an audio tour of our lovely garden.  The tour describes about a dozen different aspects of the garden, giving some history and the whys and wherefores of the particular planting or feature.

For those of you who have visited this is a chance to relive your experience and, maybe, to have that lightbulb moment when that puzzling bit of the garden suddenly makes more sense!

For those still to visit – and we hope that won’t be too far into the future – the tour is an opportunity to understand a bit about Nant y Bedd Garden before you come along. Hopefully it will encourage you to visit!

The full tour is about 50 minutes long, but now Candide have produced this short preview to whet your appetite!  The full tour can be found by downloading the free Candide app (here’s a shortcut) to your phone or tablet, click on Places, search for Nant y Bedd, click on the audio tour, then follow the numbers on the aerial photo.   Then you can sit back and enjoy Sue’s dulcet tones in the comfort of your locked down living room.

AUDIO TOUR PREVIEW

Nant y Bedd Garden

Apologies for the little advert at the end, but this is something to do with the YouTube set-up that Candide needed to produce the clip so it would work on our site.

 

March Newsletter

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For those who are not yet on our Newsletter mailing list  – shame on you!! – here’s the recent March one.  Next one will be early May (as long as I can get Sue out of the garden long enough to write her bits).

It’s easy to get a copy direct to your e-mail box (and we promise that no-one else will get in touch with you), just e-mail garden@nantybedd.com and ask!

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Traffic silence = Birdsong

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Just a few sounds for you today.

A somewhat uncommunicative owl from last night as we had a quick stroll to check the forest barriers were locked – essential travel!!

 

…and a much more tuneful Dawn Chorus from early this morning.

With virtually no planes and no traffic, it’s lovely to hear the birds as they should be.

A tale of many mulches

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Our latest video clip of the garden features Sue explaining the different mulches that she is using on each segment in the circular bed around the Szechuan peppercorn tree.

Keep a look out for Oreo photo-bombing in the last few frames!

The power of water

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Continuing our current video posts (or should that be vlogs?), here’s a little snippet of one part of our river, before and after Storm Dennis.

We’ll be continuing to vlog this and other aspects of the garden over the next months, so you can see the best of the garden from your armchair.  For example, just along the bank from here will be carpeted in bluebells in May, and we wouldn’t want the “Virus Thing” to stop you seeing them!  Keep logging in.

In the first part you can see the clearly defined ‘tongue’ of water. At the time of filming it the river was a bit up, so you can’t easily see the two huge flat stones which usually stayed dry on either side (mini waterfalls in this clip).  The gap was just wide enough for the cats to be able to leap from one stone to the other, crossing the river without getting their paws wet!

In the second part, you see it as it is today.  Even at the current low level of water, the two stones are well under water and the ‘tongue’ has completely disappeared.  Instead of a rush of water the whole area is now almost a millpond.  Look how much stone has been displaced to where the ‘tongue’ would have been.

Further down the river, alongside our new field, there’s a big waterfall, which was always straight across.  Now it is V-shaped!

The power of water!!

Another video lovely

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Continuing our series of short garden videos, here’s one for all of us who find the sound of running water so relaxing.

Being where we are, we have no shortage of running water.  The Nant y Bedd – Stream of the Grave – running through the garden and feeding into the beautiful Grwyne Fawr.  And then we have our ‘adopted’ waterfall on the opposite bank, which is unfortunately never as spectacular when our summer visitors are here as it can be throughout the rainy winter months.

We hope you will be able to visit at some point this year and enjoy the soothing sounds.

A little video for you

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In these difficult times, we thought we would try to lighten your days (or make you even more frustrated that you can’t get out!) by uploading a few little videos of the garden as it is now and as it progresses over the next few months.

As a starter, and especially for all those who like to think of themselves as a kind of Indiana Jones, here’s one of the rope bridge.

Hope it works!

Virus / Opening News

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Despite not being able to open for the NGS, we have set up a JustGiving page where you can donate directly to the National Garden Scheme and help to continue their magnificent support for a raft of really important UK nursing and health charities.  JustGiving is easy and secure, just click here to go to our page. 

 

Following advice from the National Garden Scheme (NGS) our planned opening over the late May Bank Holiday is now cancelled.  We have also cancelled any workshops, events and visits until at least the end of May.  Please check back later for news from June onwards.

We hope that we will be able to carry on with our normal (non-NGS) openings starting at the beginning of July, but will confirm this at a later date when things will hopefully be much clearer.

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In the meantime if you want to learn a bit more about Nant y Bedd, you can download (if you haven’t already done so) the Candide Gardening app for your phone or pad and listen to Sue describing the background and ethos of the garden and interesting detail about the key features.

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As the Spring weather appears to be finally upon us – OK that might be a bit presumptuous! – let’s all use the opportunity of being ‘confined to barracks’ to enjoy the great health benefits of our own gardens!

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Angel and Grave

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Don’t worry, you haven’t just stumbled on a new heavy-metal rock band.  The title refers to the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny and, of course us – for those who have forgotten their Welsh lessons, Bedd (as in Nant-y-Bedd) is the Welsh for a grave (a bronze age one on the top of the mountain behind the house!).

Actually, Angel & Grave sounds a bit like one of those currently very trendy shops or holiday companies who seem to delight in putting a couple of seemingly random words together!  But this is a genuine collaboration – read on!

Having just taken my Mother to the Angel for her 100th Birthday (yes, you did read that right), we had an e-mail from Jo, their Sales & Marketing Manager, the very next day.  Coincidence or what?  Well it was, sheer coincidence.

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As the pre-eminent hotel in Abergavenny, indeed recently voted the Best in Wales, the Angel fits nicely with our recently acquired Wales’ Favourite Garden.

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Amongst other suggestions, Jo proposed setting up a number of Special Breaks at the hotel to tie in with some of our Workshops and Events, along the lines of stay at the Angel, with breakfast and dinner and attend one of the courses as part of the package.

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Jo chose three; Wild Weaving with Jess Tanner, Blueprints with Ruth Barnes Richards and Sue’s own Wild Gardening.  You can see the outcome at www.angelabergavenny.com/special-offers.

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So if you fancy a night of pampering at the Angel and an instructive and enjoyable day at Nant-y-Bedd Garden, look no further.  Or maybe you have a richly deserving relative or friend who you’ve been wondering what to buy them, well now you know!

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We and Jess and Ruth, are all thrilled to be involved in this.

January Newsletter

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We have been producing our Newsletter for just over two years now, but have to date only sent it out to our loyal band of newsletter followers.  To celebrate the new decade, we will now also post it here.  If you would prefer a copy direct to your e-mail Inbox then drop us a line at garden@nantybedd.com and we’ll add you to the list.

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A Happy Garden Visiting 2020 to…

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… all our wonderful followers and former visitors.

Despite the rather damp (OK, very wet) Autumn, stuff has been going on here to make Nantybedd Garden even better for 2020.

We hope to see you and your friends during our July, August and September weekend afternoon opening times, but if you can’t make those days or want to bring a club or society (or just a big group of mates) then get in touch.

Happy New Year from Sue and Ian

 

 

… in full surround sound!!

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You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve read the blog, now you can hear all about it from the Head Gardener herself.  A wonderful new app called Candide features audio tours of many of Britain’s top gardens – so obviously they needed to include us!  You’ll have to download the (free) app, then click on Places. At the moment we seem to be first on the list, if not scroll along to find Nant-y-Bedd.   Why the woodyard photo?  That’s where the tour begins!  Listen and find out why.

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All in all there’s almost thirty minutes of insight, background and commentary across 13 different areas of the garden.  Broken into manageable chunks of no more than 4 minutes at a time, you’ll get a real feel for the garden and how Sue sees it, whether you have been here or not (and if not, why not??!).

Big thanks to Ludo at Candide for getting us into it.  We think this could be the next big thing in promoting garden visiting.

Workshops and Events 2020

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Latest News: Due to the uncertainty surrounding the possible course of the COVID-19 virus and personal health issues, we are currently not intending to open in 2020, nor will any of the proposed workshops take place this year.  

We look forward to welcoming you to Nantybedd Garden in 2021

New for 2020 we have Jessica Tanner with two fascinating topics

Artists Willow Charcoal Making

£60 including all materials, delicious seasonal, organic lunch, tea & cake.

Click here for more details

Wild Weaving

£60 including all materials, delicious seasonal, organic lunch, tea & cake.

Click here for more details

…and some old favourites – book early as they tend to be filled quickly.

Wild Gardening 2020   with Sue

Compost workshops 2020     with Sue

How to make the crumbly brown gold….

£65 (20% RHS Member discount) incl 2-course lunch, tea & cakes. 10.00 to 3.30

Contact us on garden@nantybedd.com to book

Foraging   Led by Liz Knight (Forage Fine Foods)

Liz is so enthusiatic

£75 incl lunch, teas.  10.00 to 2.00

Details/booking at www.foragefinefoods.com

 

Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)     Led by Carina Greenwood

Wood sorrel in the forest sun

Prices £75 full day including lunch, £25 half day

Details at www.forestbathe.co.uk

Booking via Eventbrite

Blueprints 2020

   Led by Ruth Barnes Richards

Blue and beautiful

£55   Materials included.  Bring picnic lunch

Details/booking at www.thedaylightthief.com

Taking the Mystery Out of Plant Diseases 2020   Led by Dr. Mary Barkham

£55  (20% RHS Member discount) including lunch

Details/booking at marymbarkham@hotmail.com

At last all can be revealed — Nant y Bedd on TV!

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In various blogs, newsletters and the like, we been teasing you all for some months.  Not because we wanted to, but because the contract we had with the film company precluded us from saying anything.

But after the programme was broadcast last Tuesday, we can finally reveal that Alan Titchmarsh was here in May filming Nant y Bedd as the “inspirational garden” for an episode of the ITV series Love Your Garden.

For those who haven’t seen the programme, they find deserving people who need a better garden for whatever reason.  The garden in our episode was not far away in Pontypool, where the unfortunate Chris had lost his hands and feet to sepsis.  With a largish garden, three young children and a busy wife, Chris found himself restricted to the small patio outside the back door.  Alan’s team of miracle workers transformed the wilderness, described as “the hardest task we’ve ever taken on” in just one week into something that the kids could enjoy, where his wife could work from home and in which Chris could get his wheelchair to all parts.

We were chosen as the inspirational garden for a number of reasons; we weren’t too far away, we have big slopes, water features, mature trees, sheds, the rope bridge and the treehouse.

After a flurry of e-mails, another Chris, the Director, came to have a look around one Thursday.  They had obviously done a lot of research online as he seemed to know exactly what he was looking for.  Then on the Tuesday following at 9am in rolled Alan Titchmarsh, Series Producer Colin, Director Chris and a cameraman and sound recordist. The weather was magnificent and we were all carefully dressed in our finest with hair neatly styled!  “Oh, sorry, I forgot to tell you we don’t feature the garden owners!”  Oh well, never mind. Fortunately no-one thought to mention this ban to Smudge!

One always wonders if TV celebs are the same in real life as they are on screen.  We can report that Alan T is a really lovely man.  Chatting away between takes, reading us a poem he wrote in the car on the way here and telling a few anecdotes about garden owners of, shall we say, a rather higher social status!  He said his wife would also love our garden, but when I suggested he bring her, he said “No way, she’ll want me to transform our garden!”

During a lull to sort out a problem with the camera, he grabbed a stick and stated playing with the boat on the pond.  When offered a chance to go up into the treehouse, which wasn’t quite finished at the time, his response was “Just try and stop me!”  as he disappeared up a very tall ladder. Oh, and whilst waiting to film the opening shot he cried out “a stoat has just run over my foot!”

I did have to give him a ‘telling off’ for running on the bridge – setting a bad example for other visitors.  By the way no ducks were injured in the filming of this sequence – just a little bit surprised!!

Anyway enough of my prattlings, have a look at the clip below – make sure you have the sound on – as he says some really lovely things about Nant y Bedd

 

If you can, go to the ITV Hub and watch the full programme, but make sure you have a full box of tissues at hand! It was broadcast on Tuesday 22nd October.

Many thanks to Spun Gold TV for allowing us to use the above clip.  

Make your own Christmas Wreath at Nant-y-Bedd

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Unfortunately, this workshop is now fully booked.

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

Too little or too much – the everyday story of a hydro

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I’ve had a lot of conversations with visitors this summer about the level of water needed in the stream to power up the hydro.

Most of the summer there’s barely a trickle in the steam, but give it a couple of nights of torrential downpours and it looks a bit like this. high water in the stream

Unfortunately from a hydro point of view, this is all going to waste.  The system is limited in terms of its capacity to 3kWh and when that is reached it can’t take any more water.  So it is a matter of boom and bust – either not enough pressure to spin the generator or so much that much of it can’t be used.

Oh, for a flexible system that would work at both ends of the spectrum!

 

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

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and

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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!

UPDATE

Well we did get rid of that ?  Although you won’t find it on the magazine or NGS sites, we are officially or unofficially, Wales’ Favourite Garden.  As runner-up in Wales and the Marches we had the highest votes of any garden in Wales!   “Sorted!”

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?

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