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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.

Building the bean tunnel

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Over the years of our opening the garden we have had so many comments about the hazel tunnel we build every year or so (depending on the winter weather) that I thought we’d give you a quick insight into how it is constructed.

First of all, harvest your hazel poles.  We are fortunate in having two areas from which we can select just the right size sticks, although those in our new field will need quite a few years of management before they give a useable crop.

Here’s Sue, with trusty Silky saw, down by the river.

 

Make sure you have enough and they are long enough

Then assemble your tools;

Something to make good deep holes in your soil

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Lots of good string – here we have sisal baler twine

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and two people.

Work out how long the row needs to be and make a start, keeping the distance between the opposing sticks as close the same as possible.

Here we are after the first half a dozen (out of 27 pairs)

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You’ll see later the process of matching up the two opposing sticks works.

Tie in the two sticks to make the arch, making sure you keep a constant height all along – it will make things easier later.

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Here we have about half of the arches complete.

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and this is how you make them

 

 

Speedy aren’t we??

Now it’s just a case of tying it all together. First with long straight sticks along the apex to make sure the spacing is correct.

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then the all important side sticks, woven in (it’s not that easy) to provide a really solid framework.

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And, in the immortal words of Blue Peter, here’s one I made earlier.  Actually, WE made today.

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Tunnels like this have survived snow, rain and high winds and provide a lovely, easy way to pick your beans.

Now all that’s needed is a bit of warmer weather to plant the beans!

Here’s what it looked like in Summer 2018

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Beans, beans, beans

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‘Twas a strange day in the Nant-y-Bedd garden today.  We were working together! It was, albeit a bit later than usual due to the inclement weather, the time to construct this year’s bean tunnel.

A lot of ‘harvesting’ of hazel rods had been going on recently and in order to get the cars out of the yard, something had to be done.

The Runner Bean tunnel is widely admired by our visitors, but they only usually see it covered in beans.  So here you can see the skeleton and the amount of work that goes into it.

First the sticks have to be cut and brought into the potager.

Just some of the hazel sticks

Each stick needs to be fairly straight and without branches in the wrong place, otherwise they tend to break as they are bent.

Then the framework starts to take form.

the first few hoops

From here on it’s a case of getting matching pairs of hazel rods and tying them in to the the top ‘stretcher’.

adding more hoops

It is very much a two person job, pushing the rods into the soil, bending them over at the right height and then tying them into the arch position; one under, one over the stretcher.

teamwork!

Eventually we have 25 rods each side, giving 50 planting positions for the plants.

To make it more secure, and with the winds we have had in some summers this is essential, we run a further sideways set of rods to keep everything in just the right place.

Pretty much finished

By the time you visit you’ll hardly be able to see the frame for the green beans hanging down.

A tunnel of ?????

The beans are nearly ready to be planted out, and then they will be climbing faster than you can believe. Come and see for yourself.

Oh yes! the string to pull it all together is natural sisal baling twine – none of your plastic stuff!