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Workshops and Courses 2019 – Updated

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Please note that workshops and courses in 2020 will be posted in November:  Check back later for a fantastic new list!

 

It’s all go here at Nantybedd Garden, not only making the most of the weather to get out into the garden, but also because we have been approached by a couple more wonderful experts asking to run their own courses here.

So we now have:

Led by Sue Mabberley (Nantybedd Garden)

Wild Gardening     Wed 24thApril, Wed 25thSeptember Fully booked.    Extra date: 1st October – also fully booked

Wild

Compost making   Wed 19thJune, Wed 24thJuly

How to make the crumbly brown gold….

Organic veg growing   Wed 22nd May

Veg basket includes Heritage varieties Blue Coco French bean and Crimson-flowered broad bean

Christmas Holly Wreath making    Wed 4th December

Make your own Holly Wreath in 2019

£55 (20% RHS Member discount) incl 2-course lunch, tea & cakes. 10.00 to 3.30

Contact us on garden@nantybedd to book

 

Foraging   Led by Liz Knight (Forage Fine Foods)

            Wed 1stMay, Mon 3rdJune, Mon 1stJuly, Tue 27thAugust,

Mon 16thSeptember, Mon 7thOctober, Mon 4thNovember

Liz is so enthusiatic

£65 incl lunch, teas.  10.00 to 2.00

Details/booking at www.foragefinefoods.com

 

Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)     Led by Carina Greenwood

            Mon 20thMay, Mon 24thJune, Mon 23rdSeptember

Wood sorrel in the forest sun

£50    10.30 to 4.15    Bring picnic lunch

Details/booking at www.forestbathe.co.uk

 

Blueprints Workshop

   Led by Ruth Barnes Richards

            Sat 22ndJune. 10.00 to 3.30    EXTRA DAY ON AUGUST 31ST  – BOOK NOW:  last few places remaining

Blue and beautiful

£55   Materials included.  Bring picnic lunch

Details/booking at www.thedaylightthief.com

 

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

Postponed due to personal circumstances.  Will be re-planned for 2020

            Wed 11thSeptember. 10.00 to 3.30

£55  (20% RHS Member discount) including lunch

Details/booking at marymbarkham@hotmail.com

 

We look forward to seeing you here at Nantybedd Garden!

Ian’s Review of the Year – Part 1

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Well, everyone else seems to be doing it – there’s no ‘news’ in the newspapers at the moment – so I thought I’d treat you to some bits of 2018 that stood out for me.  There’ll be a Part 2 coming hot on the heels of this one – 12 months all together is OK for ‘Fleet Street’ but they have a lot more brains than me (i.e. more people, not necessarily …..)

My initial thoughts, given the Winter we experienced  – Beast from the East etc. – was that the year dawned under several inches of snow. But the camera never lies, and the weather for a few weeks at least was OK. Definitely chilly, but no snow to report in the whole of January.

We had a guest for a week, documentary maker Sophie Windsor Clive, who was in the area looking at houses and offered us a  bespoke video in return for somewhere to stay for a week.  The resulting film can be seen here.  Not really the best time to see the garden, but Sophie managed to capture the essentials of the way in which Sue (and I) manage Nant y Bedd – and there’s a great shot of Sid Vicious giving his, rather odd, morning cock-crow!

It was just about warm enough for the paint to dry on the metalwork of a six-foot bench repair in the middle of the month and, apparently the first snowdrop showed its colours on the 19th.

First of the year

The benign weather didn’t last long.  On 9th February the snow returned, but not quite as bad as pre-Christmas.  We managed to pollard the London Planes, which incidentally seemed to take forever to show any new signs of life.

On Valentine’s Day, it was lovely to look out of the dining room window and watch the birds nibbling away at the apple on the ‘heart’ – how appropriate.

Valentine’s Day birdie

By 19th Feb the  frogs were doing what frogs do in the swimming pond.  Hundreds of them! A seething mass of bodies, some of which appeared to have taken things a bit far, and had to be dredged out (dead, but still embracing) some days later!

Frogs….

I’d been nagged for a while to make the River Walk path a bit flatter and this was achieved, with admittedly not too much effort, a week later.  The weather was so nice!

Path construction

Beautiful blue skies, but exceedingly cold as days led into March, the snow again – DEEP snow – in the first week of the month.  I even got the cross-country skis out.

Snow … again!!

You’l have read about our tulip-eating badgers before, but this week one of them really ‘takes the biscuit’. In the pig shed there was still a good quantity of straw bedding, and one of the little blighters decided that this was a lovely place to have a mid-foraging kip and a wash & brush-up. We monitored it for a few nights and then it obviously decided to undertake its ablutions elsewhere.

Quick wash and brush up before tulip hunting

Anyway we were going off for a few days holiday, weren’t we?  Well, no!  the day of departure dawned to even more snow that we’d seen all winter. Snowed in!!  Fortunately the Landmark Trust housekeeper couldn’t get to the property to clean it either, so eventually we had to abandon, and get our money back (we eventually got there in November).

Go back to the photos and the daffodils were in full flower just a week later. Ain’t Nature a wonderful thing?

Spring is sprung

Oh, yes! all this snow and rain meant a bumper few months on the hydro.

Fortunately that was the end of the snow & ice and when the first lambs were born on 5th April it was warm and sunny and dry.

Pixie and Lottie

We were just about recovering from all this late snow when we had a recce visit from Susie from the RHS Partner Garden team.  Amazingly she realised the potential among all the brown, and we heard later that we will be a Partner Garden from the New Year – no pressure then!

By the middle of the month the pond was bubbling with millions of tadpoles.  All around the edge was a heaving mass of wriggling tails.  This attracted the newts and for the next few months any attempt at swimming was accompanied by an escort of at least 3 or 4.

Tadpoles .. millions of them

As April progressed, so did the garden.  Green shoots everywhere and spring flowers competing to be the most spectacular.

The night-time wildlife cameras picked up another ‘visitor’. In the cat/wood shed the cat’s food seemed to be disappearing more quickly than normal. The camera pointed the finger – a couple of hedgehogs – newly woken from hibernation – were availing themselves of a bit of free nosh before venturing out into the big, wide world.  Smudge was interested but rather wary!

Hmm, you look a bit prickly to eat!

May was a busy month, as the wood sorrel carpeted the ‘forest’.  A rare piece of collaborative work saw the runner bean arch demolished and re-built with new hazel.

Hazel arches

Then the wonderful Liz Knight was brightening our lives with the first of her foraging courses in the garden – keep a look out on the website and newsletter for the dates of her foraging days for 2019, they are well worth it.  It’s amazing what Liz finds in the most unlikely places.

Liz is so enthusiatic

A little later in the month, Sue ran the first of her Compost Making masterclasses.  It was fully booked and another one had to be slotted in at short notice to cater for the extra people.  As with Liz’s workshops, Sue will be organising a number of days this coming year on, amongst others Compost and Wild Gardening.  There’ll also be, later in the year a day on making Christmas Holly Wreaths following a number of request after we posted ours on Instagram a few weeks ago!

How to make the crumbly brown gold….

At the end of May, Sue had left me in charge for a week while she took a well earned break looking at gardens in Ireland, and it struck me that we have a LOT of plants in pots that need watering very regularly.  I tried counting but my poor little brain gave up. So when she decided to revamp the small bed between the lawn and the bridge I took the opportunity to count the pots used – 86!

Bill and Ben and lots of their friends

In mid June we had the wonderful privilege of watching about a dozen or more dragonflies emerging from their pupal cases.  Fascinating and almost unbelievable.

from ugly bug to graceful flier

By the end of the month – and what a scorcher it was – there was produce aplenty for the kitchen and for flower displays. Oh, yes, and the strawberries were loving the dry heat!

food, glorious food!

So this takes us to the end of the first part of the year.  The second part of this blog will cover our opening period and on to the end of 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might have noticed that it’s been raining!

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Quite a lot actually.  The hydro has 5 days to go in this quarter and it is already our highest single quarter of generation since we started in 2012.  So in my book, that makes it the wettest quarter for 6 years and that doesn’t take into account all the additional rainwater that couldn’t fit into the turbine’s 3kWh limit.

Look how much is ‘going to waste’ here!

All that wasted electricity!

Sue has been manfully (or should that be womanfully) trying to carry on with the Spring (!!??) tasks in the garden, but I’ve found the time to fire up the forge, dust off the circular saw and make some bits and bobs that sunshine stops me from doing.

A couple of our very old cold-frames were falling apart, so with the help of a few recycled (cadged from a skip!) windows, knocked together two new ones; all mod cons, double glazed, half-open and full-open latches and hand-forged lifting handles!

Rolls-Royce cold-frame

curly-wurly handle

Then, for indoors, I finally got round to replacing a number of screws, bent hooks and the like which were making the (newly painted) kitchen look a bit untidy.

I was helped in the motivation to get forging by Sue buying me a day working with a genuine blacksmith for my birthday – so thought I’d better brush up my skills a bit before going along.

Hand-forged hook (and poker)

A ‘nest of hooks’ – deliberately made in different sizes for different jobs, but they just look right all together.

 

And now, something cutesy to finish up with.  These four little ‘rays of sunshine’ appeared.

Two girls, two boys and all supposed to be black!

 

 

Starting the new garden year – on video!

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We were very lucky last week to have a wonderful documentary film-maker staying with us. By some sort of serendipity she phoned us looking for somewhere to stay in the area whilst she did some film editing and looked at a property she was interested in.  So we offered her the use of the garden room in return for making a short video for us.

Sophie Windsor Clive, for that is her name, has done a super job, despite having only one day when the weather wasn’t dull, windy, rainy, snowy and what ever else the elements could throw spanners into the works. Thanks Sophie!!

It is, of course, a view of the garden that most people wouldn’t see – the garden in January.  This is an important time in the gardening cycle.  The work done now sets the tone for the rest of the year.

We hope this insight will arouse your interest in visiting us later in the year.

Just click on the arrow button and enjoy!

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

 

 

 

 

First prize

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Yesterday was the annual Llanthony Valley & District Show and Sports.  The weather wasn’t the greatest; wellies and 4x4s were the order of the day.  In addition to the usual vegetable show classes, the Garden Club runs a number of classes for – for want of a better term – vegetables in the ground.  This year there was really only one class which we felt was for us – Most Productive Vegetable Garden.

So we entered, and won! As Sue is now saying, it shows that a veg garden can be both pretty and productive.

Here’s a few of the veg the judges thought worthy of the title.

Cabbage

peas

Sturon onions

and the piece de resistance

the runner bean arch

This year we’ve been following the No-Dig philosophy of Charles Dowding.  Seems to be working!!

A week off, much-needed rain and busy bees

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Taking a week’s holiday at the end of April really focuses the mind of a gardener.

You have to be up to speed before you go, leave the garden in a state that requires minimum attention whilst you’re away, and pray for rain so that all the plants you have sitting in pots awaiting your return to be planted out don’t need watering twice daily. No hosepipes or sprinklers here – extensive rainwater harvesting systems, dipping tanks and galvanised watering cans are the preferred method for keeping plants alive in prolonged dry spells.

I pretty much got away with it but haven’t stopped for breath since I got back! Much-needed rain today means being driven indoors and an opportunity to share some photos of the garden over the last month.

My highly dynamic but also high maintenance approach to allowing self-seeding throughout the garden has produced a lovely show this month in the Potager. Honesty and forget-me-nots, which have been left to over-winter, have been a joy.

Honesty and forget-me-nots in the Potager

And the show in the Potager continues with sweet rocket, aquilegias and alliums taking over.

Alliums, Sweet Rocket and Aquilegia

Sweet peas were successfully Autumn-sown, over-wintered in cold frames and planted out and are showing the first flowers. We make new hazel domes for them every year from our own coppiced hazel rods.

The over-wintered field beans have produced masses of flowers, Heritage variety Crimson flowered broad beans and Aquadulce Claudia have been planted out from an indoor Spring sowing and are also flowering well.

Field Beans

Peas (Early Onward, heritage variety Robinson, Ezethas Krombek Blau (a purple flowered, purple podded variety) and Greenshaft and Sugar Ann sugar snap were all started in guttering and then planted out. All are looking great. I’m particularly pleased with the combination of the flowering peas and over-wintered Phacelia – a brilliant bee plant which I planted as winter ground cover and then moved plants around in the bed to allow for the rows of peas to be slipped in from the guttering. Hoping for a good crop of peas.

Phacelia and heritage Pea Robinson flowers

The runner bean tunnel made from hazel last year has been repaired and beans planted out at the end of May. We had an excellent crop last year and saved our own seed – Scarlet Emperor, Czar (a climbing selling bean) and heritage variety Black Pod.

We have just eaten the last of the over-wintered, and aptly named, Maystar cauliflowers!

Cauliflower Maystar

Onions have been planted. I’ve made the first batch of liquid comfrey manure this year. Compost heaps have been turned. Squashes, pumpkins, courgettes and cucumbers have been sown in the propagator.

Onion beds

The tulips in pots have finished flowering now and have been replaced with (grown from mostly saved seed) Hare’s tails and Giant Quaking grasses, Californian poppies, cosmos, dianthus, tobacco plants, etc. Some pots had bugle and Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing planted amongst the tulips and those have stayed with the new summer plantings.

Glorious Welsh poppies continue to pop up all over the place and look so cheerful adding a splash of orange or yellow where often you wouldn’t have thought to put it. And somehow it never looks wrong – to my eye anyway.

Welsh poppies

The cotton grass planted in the regeneration zone of the swimming pond last year has flowered for the first time and we have enjoyed our first swim of the year (well Ian has).

Sailing with cotton grass

Salvias, agapanthus, lavenders and dahlias have all been moved out of the greenhouses for the summer. The dahlias which were left in the ground to over-winter have been rescued from under their bracken mulch. Each year most survive but they are always slower to get away that the new ones which have been in pots in the greenhouse. I pretend that it’s a deliberate successional planting…

Whilst we await for all these to flower, we are enjoying these irises and the oriental poppies which are just coming into flower – along with the ground elder!.

Irises

Poppy (with ground elder)

This time of the gardening year can sometimes feel overwhelming. Relaxing for a while and watching the busy bees at work is useful therapy and reminds me who is actually in charge in this garden…

Bee on chive flowers

Bee on Allium

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