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Nant y Bedd Garden, Brecon Beacons

The pottage at Nant y Bedd garden

I love most gardens. My favourite thing to do is to wander around other people's gardens, there is always something to learn, to see anew, notes to take, ideas to squirrel away.

Sometimes though a garden is more than that, more than somewhere to observe and move through - it is a garden of feelings, of emotion, or becoming part somehow. For me that is what happened at Nant y Bedd garden.

Nant y Bedd is a garden of ten acres in the Brecon Beacons. It has been made on a steeply wooded slope which meanders down to a river. It has been gradually created by Sue Mabberley over the past forty years, helped by her husband Ian in more recent years.

The house - originally a forestry house - is near the top of the plot, surrounded, indeed in parts submerged, by luxuriant planting, there is a food forest, a potager and walks down through the conifer forest to the stream.

What Sue has created is something magical - as though from a fairy tale (though it may have helped that our tour guide was a very beautiful and bossy cat).

The garden at Nant y Bedd is a place of light and shadow, surprise vistas, soft mossy spaces - all laid out by a masterful eye.

And yet there is no imposing, no ego - plants are treated with evident love and respect, allowed their own form, their space - a choice of where to be. The potager has teasels amongst the beans, a wonderful array of allium Chistophii seed heads shared a metal trough with garlic, it is a garden of tolerance.

It was a garden that really moved me and encouraged me that gardening could be so caring somehow. I could have stayed chatting to Sue all afternoon but she was getting ready for a visit from the Gardener's World filming team. Nant y Bedd will be on tomorrow's programme. I shall be watching excitedly with my gin and crisps.

I have put a selection of the photos I took in a gallery - click on the photo to have a look at them.

click here for photos

I did also take lots of notes and photos of Ian's beautiful woodwork - from simple stick gates to a magnificent treehouse - and am dropping heavy hints.

Comments: 4 (Add)

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Vanessa Dennett on October 8 2021 at 09:03

Beautiful, beautiful photos Jane! I’m longing to visit this garden, I tried to find somewhere to stay in Abergavenny last weekend but (as always) had left it too late. I’ll get there sooner or later but meanwhile your photos give me hope of what I’ll create here in due course….. xx

SnapdragonJane on October 8 2021 at 12:17

In reply to Vanessa Dennett
I would really recommend staying at Allt y Bela near Usk if you get a chance - a proper treat, the house is so beautifully restored and you get to pretend the gardens are yours for a while - they do B&B via Sawdays. Then Nant y Bedd isn't that far. Though it is now shut till Spring.

Carol Wilson on October 8 2021 at 16:34

Magical describes it well.

Corrie Fairlie on October 9 2021 at 18:40

Thank you for the beautiful images Jane. On seeing the 'stick' fence it reminds me of the practice here in the Charente, France of using rough, raw and untreated wood as posts to fence the fields. The result presents a more natural look on the landscape.

Snapdragon social

My Friday letter today is about trying to balance gardening and guardianship here - and about why I registered the land here as an ARK (Acts of Restorative Kindness) as a formal commitment.⁠⁠
It is also about why I need the kitchen garden and community garden as an outlet for my obsessive growing of seedlings . . . .⁠⁠
Smoking chimney and fireweed with a halo of haws - November studio.⁠⁠
Teasel is the boss of the house. ⁠⁠
I said that I was looking for a scruffy, badly behaved, short legged dog, and that is exactly what I found.⁠⁠
He stamps in temper when I won't let him do whatever it is he has been stopped from doing.  He runs around manically, he torments poor patient Dixie until she plays and then, exhausted, he crawls up onto my knee for a cuddle and that wonderful soft puppy shudder of contentment.⁠⁠
Off to the vet for jags today.

#yorkshireterriersofinstagram #yorkielove #yorkshireterrier #yorkshireterrierpuppy #takeyourdogtowork #studiodog #puppylove
It has been weirdly warm.⁠⁠
Poppies and cornflowers are trying to bloom raggedly in the meadow and outside our bedroom window this rose has come to life again with heavy perfumed flowers.⁠⁠
They seem smaller and deeper in colour than they were in June.⁠⁠
Is anyone else finding unseasonal blooms at the moment?

#wildforflowers #awhisperedbeauty #cornersofmyworld #lifelivedbeautifully #raw_flowers #livesimple #simpleandstill #shared-joy #atmine #myeverydaymagic #slowfloralstyle #seekmoments #cornersofmygarden
One of things I chatted with @eva_nemeth about in Yorkshire a few weeks ago was mess and light.⁠⁠
I said that I wanted to be able to show beauty without worrying about tidying up around it. Life is messy, time is short . . . .⁠⁠
Eva said that all I needed to do was look for the light and the mess would be transformed.⁠⁠
She was right, this was the kitchen a couple of mornings ago, coffee on the stove, light hitting the washing up and defrosting milk.⁠⁠
Everyday beauty.

#howihueit #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #mystoryoflight #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #ihaveathingwithwindows #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #mystoryofautumn #slowfloralstyle #everydaybeauty #nestandflourish #livethelittlethings #thehappynow  #cornersofmyhome #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife
Next year the vegetable garden will be free of hens - I'm determined of that because it is a complete waste of time to grow things when they break in and eat it all - but I think that this winter I shall let them wander.  I'm reframing it as slug patrol and fertilising.⁠⁠
Though I shall harvest all the remaining sprouts first as, from the shredded state of some plants, they seem to be a favourite.

#myquietbeauty_autumn #upandautumn #simpleandseasonal #natureandnourish #shiftingseasons #quietinthewild #simplejoys #aseasonalway #snapdragonlife #calmversation #rurallifestrong #simplethings #growyourown #growyourownflowers #aseasonalshift #bantamsofinstagram #vegetablegarden
A couple of weeks ago I tried, and failed, to convince a friend that dahlias are often at their best when part frosted and on the way out.⁠⁠
They stand bedraggled and desaturated, capturing perfectly that slightly melancholy mood of autumn.⁠⁠
This year I have seen people who have previously loved autumn best, talking about how difficult they are finding it this year. ⁠⁠
I think it may be that we are not in the mood for more melancholy. It is difficult to embrace the cosy slide into darkness when, for many, there hasn't been much light.

I know that I’ve been choosing more upbeat music to keep me company in the Studio. Steering away from the heartbreak and sadness. Seeking the light. 

#myquietbeauty_autumn #upandautumn #simpleandseasonal #natureandnourish #shiftingseasons #quietinthewild #simplejoys #aseasonalway #snapdragonlife #calmversation #rurallifestrong #simplethings  #aseasonalshift #flowersandotherstories #scotlandsgardens #simplethingsmadebeautiful #daysofsmallthings
Planting tulips in the vegetable garden - 12 of each in close rows so that I don’t feel guilty about picking them - and discovering that Yorkshire terriers come pre-programmed to dig. 

#yorkshireterrier #yorkie #yorkshireterriersofinstagram #yorkshireterrierpuppy
The hornbeam arch that leads through to the vegetable garden is always a thing of two halves. 

At this time of year half is bright autumn leaves, half bare imploring branches. 

Spent vegetables and fallen leaves, hens and hazel supports. 

November garden. It’s where you will find me today. 

#slowlived #hashtagauthentic #aseasonalway #gatherandcurate #mygarden #kitchengarden #distractionsandinspirations #stillswithstories #calmversation #novembergarden #cherishandrelish #aquietstyle #growyourown #searchwondercollect #alliseeispretty #seekinspirecreate #ofsimplethings #natureandnourish #myalmanacmoment

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


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