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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

 

 

 

 

Thank you, dormice!

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About a month ago we had a phone call from our friend Mick (he of pond and Cedric fame) asking if we would be interested in hosting a chainsaw course.  Intrigued we asked why.  It turned out that he needed to get his certificates up to date and the original venue for the course was now off-limits.  The reason: dormice!

To cut a long story short, Tom, the tutor, came and had a look and two days later Mick and Mark were being given their instruction.  As you would probably expect I’d laid down a few ground rules:  all brash to be neatly piled up; all felled trees to be cut to exact 4ft lengths (to accommodate 2x 18in for the Esse cooker and 1x 12in for the Handol woodburner).

Over the two days they dropped about 17 trees of varying sizes – most of which they seemed to manage to get ‘hung up’.  All good practice for the future I suppose.

The log piles sat there for a couple of weeks whilst I cleared space in the outdoor woodsheds, then we set to work to get it all up and drying. Most of it went into the lean-to sheds, but there was a significant amount still in the forest. At which point Sue had an “idea”!!

If our experience is anything to go by, pretty much everyone has now got a copy of Norwegian Wood by Lars Myttingwhich must have been last Christmas’ best seller by far. If you haven’t seen it, it is all about cutting, stacking and drying firewood.   One chapter is about different stacking techniques, one of which is the Holzhauzen. Sue decided that we should have a go at making one.

Looks simple on paper!

Looks simple on paper!

First all the cut lengths had to come up from the forest in the transport box on the Fergie.  Fortunately I was able to get close to each stack in turn as there were some chunky bits of timber amongst them.

Some of the cut logs

Some of the cut logs (in the foreground)

In all the Holzhauzen was constructed out of about 95 x 4ft logs of varying widths.  I saved the biggest till last!

This one made the Fergie grunt a bit (and me putting it on the splitter!)

This one made the Fergie grunt a bit (and me, putting it on the splitter!)

It looked a big pile.

Ready for cutting

Ready for cutting

……at which point a couple of 60-somethings had a short rest.

Two old codgers at rest

Two old codgers at rest

Discussions were then held as to the best length to stack them at, and therefore the size of the finished circle.  After trying 3ft lengths, we felt that 18in would be better, with the foot long pieces thrown in the middle.

With me cutting….

.. with the trusty, scary Ferguson saw bench

.. with the trusty, scary Ferguson saw bench

…. and Sue stacking, we soon got into a rhythm and the sides began to rise.

It's on the way

It’s on the way

At this point we got joined by a cat.  Normally, as regular readers will know, Smudge can’t ignore a good work opportunity.  But this time it was Emily who decided to come and check out the quality of the work, departing only for yet another turn at the food bowls, she spent most of the afternoon slowly getting higher off the ground.

Quality control from Emily

Quality control from Emily

Bad light eventually stopped play – the chickens didn’t get their corn again – with just the ‘roof’ to do.

This turned out to be possibly the trickiest bit, but I think we finally got it about right, even though a bit more timber had to be found and another tree dropped.

So here it is.  Not as tall as some in the book, but a bit different from just putting the wood in sheds.

Our own little Holzhausen

Our own little Holzhausen

Thanks to: Dormice, Lars Mytting, Tom, Mick and Mark, Fergie and all his hangers on and Emily for Quality Control!

Taking a closer look

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We have an interesting relationship with our garden and the plants in it.

Sometimes we introduce a plant – it may be a gift from a friend, seeds collected on holiday, or an impulse buy – and it loves our garden, thrives and reproduces itself and feels thoroughly at home.  Examples are Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’ (can’t remember where I got this from originally – but it out-competes ground elder so is a real winner), Acaena microphylla (thank you Sarah), wild chicory (thanks for the seeds Mick)

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wild chicory

and Monardas (at least, some of them). The red Monarda, pictured below is really happy here and spreads itself about like mad, whereas others I have planted have simply disappeared.

Monarda

Monarda

Those then come into the category of ‘plants that are introduced and then sulk and die and/or get eaten by slugs’ – but let’s not dwell on these.

And then there are others that just arrive and make themselves at home. This category includes fabulous plants like Wild angelica (positively identified by a botanist friend – I’m very nervous about white-flowered umbellifers), Golden saxifrage – swathes of it lighting up the garden in Spring, and Sambucus racemosa – the Alpine elder – where did that come from?  And teasels.

teasel in the potager

teasel in the potager

And hogweed (yes, really)…

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hogweed with verbascum, lupin and cornflowers in the potager

Here are some  close-up shots of other things which are happy here at the moment.  Some, of course, like Cosmos, Larkspur, Sweet peas and Sweet Williams need some cosseting (i.e. slug protection) but are so lovely that it’s worth it and my Summer garden wouldn’t be complete without them.

Cosmos 'the Dazzler'

Cosmos ‘the Dazzler’

Larkspur

Larkspur

Sweet William Cherry Red

Sweet William Cherry Red

Sweet pea - one of the many smelly ones I grow

Sweet pea – one of the many smelly ones I grow

And then there are the alliums which require no cosseting and en masse look fantastic but close-up look pretty good too.

Allium sphaerocephalon in the cottage garden

Allium sphaerocephalon in the cottage garden

 

With thanks to Jonathan Need for the use of these lovely photos he took when he visited Nant-y-bedd a few weeks ago.

A professional’s eye

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We all know how it is when we’re so close to something that we don’t really see it as others do.  So it was a great pleasure last week to welcome professional photographer Jonathan Need to our garden.

Jonathan seemed instantly to understand the philosophy behind the garden and the planting and has very kindly sent us a wonderful selection of his morning’s shoot.  We’ll split the shots into two blogs; this first one featuring the garden as a garden; the second some fantastic close-ups of individual flowers.

Here’s just a few of the pictures which I’ll let speak for themselves.

Looking across the "Cottage garden"

Looking across the “Cottage garden”

Winding through the borders

Winding through the borders

Colour and form on the patio

Colour and form on the patio

An alternative view of the patio

An alternative view of the patio

Outside the "Operations Room" aka the Potting Shed

Outside the “Operations Room” aka the Potting Shed

In the "Potager" - 1

In the “Potager” – 1

Looking down the runner bean arch

Looking down the runner bean arch

In the "Potager" - 2

In the “Potager” – 2

Looking back up the "Potager"

Looking back up the “Potager”

Espalier apples and old tin cans!

Espalier apples and old tin cans!

Sailing on the pond

Sailing on the pond

Through the wild flower meadow to the Shepherd's Hut

Through the wild flower meadow to the Shepherd’s Hut

Cedric, the Seed King

Cedric, the Seed King

Rose bedecked shed

Rose bedecked shed

...and yes we do, occasionally, get to sit and enjoy a cuppa!

…and yes we do, occasionally, get to sit and enjoy a cuppa!

You can see more of Jonathan’s stunning photos on his website and hopefully in print somewhere in the future.

 

Open at last

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After all the hard work of the winter and spring our first Open Garden weekend is rapidly approaching. On Saturday morning at 11am we throw open the gates and hold back the crowds .

Here’s a small sample of what you can see on 14th and 15th May – yes this weekend!!

Birch plant supports and honesty

Birch plant supports and honesty

 

Tulips under the Japanese maple.

Tulips under the Japanese maple.

 

The spooky forest

The spooky forest

 

Lovely Wood Sorrel on the forest floor

Lovely Wood Sorrel on the forest floor

 

Bluebells in abundance, by the waterfall

Bluebells in abundance, by the waterfall

 

The Old Ash - so atmospheric.

The Old Ash – so atmospheric.

….and finally what will this be on Saturday?

????????????? Come and find out.

????????????? Come and find out.