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A Virtual Tour of Nantybedd Garden -Part One

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This weekend should have seen our annual opening for the National Garden Scheme, but the COVID-19 has put a firm end to that, so this week and next we are posting a series of images on Instagram and Facebook to help you to get your ‘fix’ of our lovely garden.

We are following the route that Sue takes in her Candide Gardening audio tour, and today we reach day 5.

We do hope you enjoy these pictures and will come – maybe again – to visit us when we can open. At this point in time it is all so uncertain that we can’t even say whether we will be open at all this year.

Day one

The woodyard, which as visitors will recall is the start of the Nantybedd tour, our meet and greet place.

The attention grabbing pyramid
Looking down from the road
Pea sticks and the hardwood stacks

Day two

and we move into Sue’s little domain – the potting shed – the hub of all that happens in the garden – or Home as Sue calls it!

The door to Home
She doesn’t actually use those riddles!
Potting on .. in the potting shed
Dried flowers from former years .. and redundant signs this year
Seed storage and tools

Day three

We move back outside to yet another key factor in our gardening ethos – compost. You may have been on one of Sue’s Compost Making workshops or seen our earlier published video (which has been used by the National Garden Scheme) on making the perfect compost. If you haven’t then it’s a potential Oscar winner!

The composting hub
Owl keeps a close eye on the leafmould bin
Compost in use on the spuds
Compost bins come in all shapes …
…. and sizes!

Day four

Through the gate into the potager, home of flowers and vegetables, and wonderful hazel support frames.

Welcome desk!
Through the gate – the onions are looking good
Recycled windows make a great cold frame
Planting out the runner beans at the tunnel
Hazel sweet pea supports

Day five

Venturing through the runner bean tunnel, we come to our tree carving Cedric, who symbolises our approach to editing nature, not dominating it.

Cedric and a bit of Sweet Cicely
Close-up Lovely green ‘hair’!
Sue does like writing Haikus
Self seeded conifers …
…and ferns
Just then along came the ducks!

There’s more to come. We’ll be publishing some more early next week – keep watching.

You can also help the National Garden Scheme to continue to support such worthy health and nursing charities as Macmillan Cancer Support and Queen’s Nursing Institute – to name but two – by donating to our JustGiving page – scan the QR code below with your phone or tablet for instant access to our page.

It’s bluebell time by the river

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Continuing our series of short videos so that you can see a little bit of what you might have seen if we were able to open.

After we purchased the woodland and riverbank, we cleared years of fallen branches, matted with groves of bramble, all along the bank.

Without any planting, we now have a few rapidly growing patches of bluebells, establishing themselves with glee in the shade of the hazels.  The big irony is that for years we’ve been trying to establish bluebells in the garden, with only limited success!

 

 

Somehow I managed to stay upright whilst walking/filming – does one look at the screen or the ground? –  so apologies for a slightly uneven view.

The river, the Grwyne Fawr, feeds into the Usk at Glangrwyney, delineates the boundary between Powys and Monmouthshire and is a Special Area of Conservation – not bad for ‘our river’!

Yesterday we were delighted to find that we are featured this week on the National Garden Scheme Virtual Tours, which concentrates on the more formal (if that’s not a contradiction at Nantybedd!) parts of the garden.  Our video makes a nice counterpoint.

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.

I make no apology for repeating this request as the Scheme is so important to the future of the above health and nursing charities and the people who make them work..

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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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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

english garden logo

and

NGS logo

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!”

Climate Change? What a difference a fortnight makes!

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Having just climbed out of the pond after my second swim of the Easter weekend – a little bracing, but most satisfying – it struck me that only a fortnight ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated a dip.

Having sailed though March with barely a tremor weather-wise, dear old Mother Mature came and bit us on the bum on the 4th April.

April showers??

Where’s the daffs gone?

In common with the higher parts of Wales, we copped about 5 inches of that heavy sticky snow in just 24 hours.  Apart from flattening the daffs, it brought down a few branches including one which has necessitated some repairs to the rope bridge.

Rescued daffs

Within a day most of it had gone, so I had a good session on the hydro, although as so often it all came too quickly rather than just the right amount spread out over more days.

stream in spate

The next few days bumbled along feeling really cold in the wind, but warm and sunny out of it, with the odd frost overnight.

Then came the ‘Bank Holiday Heatwave’ and it has been shorts and T-shirts, skinny-dipping in the pond, barbecues and lunches on the patio.  Oh yes, and some garden visitors.   What a turn around!

bracing but lovely.

Sunshine!

 

 

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.

Words and pics

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We thought we would let those of you who don’t follow us on Instagram or Twitter have a quick look at what’s great in the garden and some of the lovely comments in the Visitors Book over the past few weeks.

Rain on the sweet peas (Photo: Lizz Saxon)

My heart feels at ease, my breath deeper. I am so grateful for the love and care felt in this place. 

Honeysuckle Serotina by the small pond

Pure Magic! Thank you for your beautiful, creative and awe-inspiring display!

Wild raspberry – great flavour!

Wildlife is amazing! Scenery is beautiful! Pond epic! Great place for kids!!

Rosebay Willow herb and Kiwi Fruit in the woodyard

What an amazing garden!  Thank you for sharing it with us. 

a riot of colour

A beautiful place to visit. Nature has been captured in this mesmerising and magical piece of land.  I’ll never see ground elder in the same light again!

Lilium Regale on the patio

Tranquil, immersive, relaxing, absorbing, natural, beautiful, encouraging, thought provoking, enchanting. imaginative fascinating, magical, stunning, incredible … the list goes on!   {edited from a much longer list – Ian}

Looking down the potager

Just one word to sum it up ….. enchanting!

Clematis by the tea-room

Every nook and cranny brings joy … Gorgeous!

Primula Florindae with Fox & Cubs in the background

Truly delightful and magical garden gave me a lot of inspirational ideas. 

… and that’s just a few of the comments. Come and add yours to The Book!

 

 

 

Ian seen in a suit!

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Yes, strange though it may seem Ian was spotted wearing a rather natty summer suit last week.  The reason was what could be described as ‘The Heir meets The Hairy’.  Confused?

Ian is the Hon. Treasurer for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in Gwent and as such was invited to meet HRH The Prince of Wales on one of his Wales Week visits, along with the other Gwent officers and some from other local organisations.

The meeting took place at another garden which opens for NGS (by the way we open on Sunday – hint, hint!) called High Glanau – one with a much longer history than ours as it was one of the very first to open for the Scheme.

HRH approaches

HRH approaches

We were positioned by the Octagonal Pond and with fantastic views across to the Blorenge, Sugar Loaf and in the far distance Pen y Fan.  His Royal Highness remarked on the magnificent views and was then introduced to the team.

County Co-ordinator, Joanna Kerr explains about the NGS

County Co-ordinator, Joanna Kerr explains about the NGS

On being told I was the Treasurer, the Prince joked that I was the one keeping the rest in order, “trying to” was the reply! We then discussed the NGS and I was asked to describe our garden, which I probably didn’t do as well as Sue would have done, but there wasn’t much time to think or reply! He’s a thoroughly nice guy, who puts everyone at ease and seems genuinely interested.

HRH High Glanau-96

Then it was time to be off to the next group, who were watching us while waiting.

As we went back into the house I managed to get a copy of our garden leaflet into the hands of his Private Secretary, so one never knows if a call may one day come in from Clarence House or Highgrove – after all Sue has been to his garden, so it only seems fair to reciprocate!!

Photos by Des Pugh