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A Virtual Tour of Nantybedd Garden – Part 2

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The second of what will be three parts of our current virtual tour of the garden.

Day 6

We move into the Spooky Forest. Planted many, many years ago by the Forestry Commission as a Christmas tree nursery – if you are good with heights we’ll lend you a saw to cut a ‘tree’ from the tops!! – and never really managed. There’s also some lovely, huge, Douglas Fir at each end, and a few stands of Ash, at the moment.

Looking skyward- there’s Christmas trees up there!
Not all logs reach the fireplace.
This lovely rill lined with wood sorrel runs through
…and Wild Garlic is starting to thrive
We hope we don’t lose this lovely old Ash
The Eagle’s Nest – something odd happened up there!
Why it’s called the Spooky Forest!
Name the native broadleaf trees in this pic!

Day 7

Do you remember the song “Down by the Riverside”? Well, that’s where we were on day seven. We’ve about 250 yards of river along this stretch (plus about another 350 alongside our new field) and, after clearing decades of brash and brambles, all sorts of flowers have sprung up.

Bluebells and Stitchwort, with Ian’s fave chair in the background
The stone in the river is quite geometric
Ferns unfurling
More bluebell with Pignut
A nice place to sit and let the world go by …
…or climb down and dangle your toes in the water

Day 8

Heading back into the garden, hidden in the embrace of an 178 year old Sycamore (we have its birth certificate, if you don’t believe me!) is our much loved treehouse. Designed and built by Dan Tuckett (after an initial plan by Mick Petts) with help from tree-climber Oli Stinchcombe, it is both a thing of beauty and a great place to spend some quality time listening to the birds and the river.

The shape of the tree was just crying out for this, and Dan and Oli managed to do it all with only three (stainless steel) bolts into the tree itself, the rest is clamped round and counter-balanced. Fantastic job!

The main A-frame
Looking down the path with the new gate in the distance
View from the new field
Halfway seat – with convenient drink holder!
Looking back toward the turbine house …
…and down to the river.

Day 9

Today we get to the pond. A wonderful place to sit and chill, or even more wonderful to slip into and bash out a few lengths of breaststroke. The border planting keeps the water crystal clear by gulping up any algae-inducing nutrients and looks beautiful as well. If the weather turns, then a quick dash to the shelter of the Shepherd’s Hut is all that is needed.

Grasses can be beautiful too
Pale lilac Iris just coming into show
Cotton grass and looking down the valley
Shepherd’s Hut and Sue’s little yacht
Big Gunnera and huge Douglas Fir behind
Sit, sleep or read – the choice is there

Do enjoy our pictures. We are not sure at present whether we will be able to open this year. But keep watching here and on Instagram.

More pics in a few days

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.

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

It’s not easy being first

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Having a conversation with some garden visitors yesterday by the pond, it came to me that we have been, if not first then, early adopters of lots of things that have gone on to be far more widely accepted.

Take the natural swimming pond.

When we put ours in four years ago there was very little to base it on in this country. We’d come across the idea in France and Scandinavia, but these were really lakes in which one could swim rather than a specific place in a garden.   Now we have visitors coming from all over, who are “going to have one” and want to see what is needed, and how it works. Rumour has it that even David & Victoria Beckham are planning one – no doubt far larger / posher / etc.  Just remember we had one first!

Sitting next to the pond is our shepherd’s hut.

Built by a wonderful former shepherd in Dorset, Larry Skeates. Now we see them dotted around all over the countryside, used as holiday homes, offices and, most famously as a ‘writing room’ by David Cameron.

The price has gone through the roof and we no longer have something ‘a bit different’!

On a slightly different tack, our hydro-electric turbine was the precursor to so many more popping up that the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) took a nose dive, and virtually stopped any new schemes dead in the water – to coin a phrase!

 

We switched to cooking, heating the water and the house on wood about 9 years ago.

Great big chunks of wood that got one warm in so many different ways – felling, logging, stacking, cutting, carrying.

Then the Government got in on the act again – and got it wrong again – with the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This encouraged new entrants to burn wood – nothing for us early adopters. It also increased imports, as most of the wood pellets burned by these people come from Ireland or the USA, rather than the woodland outside their doorsteps. No additional “getting warm” episodes either, just bulk delivery, vacuumed into a hopper and incinerated.

We get a nice warm feeling (as well as keeping fit) from all of our efforts and ideas and really enjoy discussing them with our visitors. If truth be told we don’t really mind the Camerons and Beckhams of this world getting to enjoy things we have been enjoying for many years, as long as they remember that we did it first!!

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.