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Workshops and events 2019

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Following on from the highly successful workshops and foraging days of 2018, we have a whole raft of days to look forward to in 2019.

In chronological order:

Tuesday 9th April               Foraging with Liz Knight

Wednesday 24th April       Wild Gardening with Sue

Wednesday 1st May           Foraging with Liz Knight

Wednesday 22nd May       Organic Veg Growing with Sue

Monday 3rd June               Foraging with Liz Knight

Wednesday 19th June       Compost Making with Sue

Monday 1st July                 Foraging with Liz Knight

Wednesday 24th July        Compost Making with Sue

Tuesday 27th August         Foraging with Liz Knight

Monday 16th Sept              Foraging with Liz Knight

Wednesday 25th Sept        Wild Gardening with Sue

Monday 7th October          Foraging with Liz Knight

Monday 4th November      Foraging with Liz Knight

Liz talking birch sap and ox-eye daisies

Foraging with Liz:  Days start at 10am and finish at 2pm and include a mainly foraged lunch.  Cost £65 per person. Click here for more details.

Wild and tame

Wild Gardening with Sue:  Days start at 10am and finish at 3.30pm. Lunch included. £55 (20% discount for RHS members. Click wild gardening 2019 for more details.

The “Forestry Bin” as a major compost talking point

Compost Making with Sue: Days start at 10am and finish at 3.30pm. Lunch included. £55 (20% discount for RHS members. Click compost workshops 2019 for more details.

Organic and tasty!

Organic Veg Growing with Sue: Days start at 10am and finish at 3.30pm. Lunch included. £55 (20% discount for RHS members. Click veg growing2019 for more details.

I shouldn’t really be mentioning Christmas 2019 just yet, but Sue will be running a “make your own Christmas holly wreath” session in early December.  More details nearer the time.

The standard to aim for!

In addition to Sue and Liz’s days, we will be announcing some Forest Bathing Days with Carina Greenwood in the near future, once all the details have been ironed out.  In the meantime you can find out about Forest Bathing – or Shinrin-yoku to give it it’s proper name – here at Forest Bathe

Book up soon as all the days have limited numbers so that we can ensure that everyone gets really involved.

You can eat that??

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With apologies to our regular followers and newsletter subscribers, here’s Lucy Gaze’s report on the recent foraging day at Nant y Bedd, plus a little snippet from Liz’s blog.

 

Friday 18th May saw the first of 3 foraging days at Nantybedd, with the lovely and extremely knowledgeable Liz Knight of Foragefinefoods.

Liz waxing lyrical about Ground Elder

The day dawned bright and sunny and 6 guests (plus Sue!) turned up to a delightful treat of homemade nettle muffins with raspberry icing and topped with bird cherry blossom to fire them up for a 2 hour forage around the garden.

Nettle muffins – not at all stingy

We started in the potager, which fortunately Sue had left a couple of weeds in – for the purpose of this event of course! We sampled that ‘beast’ ground elder, discovering it was an excellent substitute for salad leaves, ate the aniseed flavoured flowers of sweet cicely and chewed on dock stems which were distinctly like rhubarb. We also sampled hairy bitter cress, a dead ringer for rocket and honesty seeds – hot and spicy! Liz provided a detailed and fascinating account of each plant with historical uses and key pointers to identification.

Rapt attention – noteboks and pencils at the ready

Stopping at Sue’s beautiful display of potted tulips, we made the surprising discovery that the petals are edible – and delicious, tasting rather like apples!

A second use for tulips

Crossing over to the house, we found other delights – sweet woodruff, which we picked to flavor our cocktails and pudding, along with apple blossom that had the fragrancy of rose petals. As we wandered along, Liz collected plants for our lunch and we continued to sample these strange delights that also included cultivated plants not usually known for their culinary delights – such as hosta leaves and sedum!

many hands ….

Basket full, we set up camp beside the wild pond, lit a fire and were then treated to a veritable feast – a rainbow salad of petals and leaves that we had collected, together with a potato salad and delicious home made vegetable frittata. Liz also sautéed hogweed, hosta and the shoots of hops and willowherb which tasted incredible! Washed down with a fruit cocktail infused with pine needles, lemon balm and fruit blossom and finished with a sweet woodruff flavoured milk pudding with pine syrup it was the perfect end to a fascinating and most enjoyable day.

Hosta, hop shoots and willowherb

All there is to say is thank you so much for a really memorable experience and can I come to the next one please??!

Sweet Woodruff flavoured pud, with pine sauce!

 

…and from Liz’s Instagram ”  … the ridiculously gorgeous Nantybedd Garden.  It’s a magical forest garden in the depths of the hills. …  Does Eden exist?  I think so, see the magic for yourselves”

Words by Lucy Gaze;  Pics by Lucy and Toni Greaves; compliment by Liz!

 

 

Have we found the Bedd – Part 2

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Regular readers will remember a recent blog wondering whether we had found the Bedd (grave) which gives the house and stream its name.  Well, it appears we probably hadn’t.

By chance, last week I received an e-mail from a colleague on the Brecon Beacons Local Access Forum.  He just happens to work (at the moment) for the Clwyd-Powys Archeological Trust, so I pinged a reply and asked if he could see if the Trust had any records which might give the answer.

Yes they did.  There are two possible Bronze Age round barrows on Pen Twyn Mawr, just at the top of the Nant-y-Bedd stream.  To the untutored eye they don’t look like much, and both appear to have modern stone cairns built on top of them.

Archeological site CPAT5104…

..described as:  Possible burial cairn comprising disturbed area of turf-covered stone around 4m across x 0.2m high. A modern cairn lies adjacent. 

This cairn was apparently first noted on the Ordnance Survey in 1916.

and

Archeological site CPAT65001..

..described as :  Possible cairn comprising spread of partly turf-covered stones c. 6m across x 0.2m high, lying beneath a modern cairn.

So there you have it, from the ‘horse’s mouth’ as they say, the true origin of the name.

Many thanks to Jeff Spencer and the Clwyd-Powys Archeological Trust for the info and photos.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

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Yes, it’s Keat’s time of year again, with the autumn fruit lighting up the misty mornings.

Depending on who you talk to this summer has been:  hot / dry / cold / damp / lovely /grotty – so it’s nice to see some real rewards despite the weather.

The early fruit did quite well, with strawberries overcoming a cold damp spell, which seemed to really suit the raspberries. Possibly the best crop we’ve had, and these were supplemented by loads of worcesterberries and gooseberries, reasonable numbers of blackcurrants and even the plums did OK down above the chicken run.  Sue has made jam from many of these as previously reported.

Now it is the turn of the later ripening species.

We now have three pear trees, which each have about 3 pears on them.  They say that you “plant pears for your heirs” and that is looking pretty much right at the moment.

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The Tom Putt apples are glowing bright red right now, probably redder than for many a year.  They are a bit of an acquired taste and go brown as you are eating them, so it will probably be juice / cider as the outcome for these.  All three trees are well covered.

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We also have two Howgate Wonders which suffer badly from canker, but one of them has a good handful or two of lovely fruit.  Officially a cooker, they are equally tasty as a dessert apple.

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The new James Grieve espalier by the garden entrance gate had two large apples this year which unfortunately got blown off before we could pick them.  Absolutely tremendous flavour though – just finishing one of them off as I type!

The crab apples are fruiting well too.  The red one behind the fence isn’t as good as last year, but even so the deep red makes it a sight to be seen.

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It’s not all hard fruit.  The alpine strawberries have been having a late spurt and often feature at breakfast (if I haven’t got to them before).  This year the birds seem to have left them alone a bit more.

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In the greenhouse the black grapes are almost ready to pick.  Not really for eating, they’ll be vinified in the not too distant future. The white vine suffered scale bug a couple of years ago and may have to be replaced.

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Finally, not specifically a fruit but something to be picked at this time of year, the sichuan pepper has had it’s best crop so far.  By the time I’ve sorted the final picking – removing and discarding the seeds from the husks – there will be three ‘spice jars’ full of aromatic spice just begging to be used in a Chinese stir fry!dscf4220

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.