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Watergate

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Most of you are now thinking about shenanigans in high political places in America.

Watergate to us is a fence across our river, placed to attempt to keep sheep out of an area by stopping them using the river as a transit route.

We’d never realised that people other than us wouldn’t know what one was until a friend saw ours and asked what it was. So here’s a bit of background.

The Grwyne Fawr (the river that frames the bottom of our land) is a tributary of the River Usk, a river famed for its salmon and trout fishing. As such the Grwyne Fawr – pronounced griinee vower – is a designated SSSI – site of special scientific interest – and the higher designation SAC – special area of conservation.

There are definitely trout in the river, we see them in the deeper pools when the surface is relatively calm, and there used to be huge salmon coming up to spawn, but we haven’t seen any for some time now.

What’s that got to do with watergates for sheep you may well ask? Well, some years ago an organisation called the Wye and Usk Foundation – a conservation / angling body – came along and asked if we’d help out by having some of the riverside trees ‘laid’ – like laying a hedge. The idea of this is to make shady places for trout and salmon to hide and escape predators and alos to encourage insects on the surface of the water for the fish to feed on.

One of the watergates today –
ten days ago there was no water coming under the left hand side!

In order to protect these laid trees there was a need to keep the sheep out, thus the watergates at each end of our stretch of river. Nice idea, but the ‘forest sheep’ managed to find ways of getting round the gates, as sheep always manage to do!

So that’s the reason the gates are there. Nowadays with this interesting weather we are having the watergates have taken on another role: that of river depth gauge! The gates are suspended on wires stretched across the river which allows them to swing upwards as the water level and speed increases. However by looking at the angle of the woodwork it’s possible to see, roughly, how deep the water is. Back in February with Storm Dennis and co. the gates disappeared entirely underwater meaning a rise of at least four feet!

Water like that, needless to say caused some damage, and so I could have been seen bare-leggedly standing in front of one of the gates just recently with my trusty cordless drill in hand!

So next time we are able to welcome you back to the garden you will be able to explain to your companions what these strange structures are!

By the way, as I write this on August 21st we have just recorded the second highest monthly rainfall of the year to date – and 10 days still to come – so there’s unlikely to be any sheep trying to cross the torrent!

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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