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Journal

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.

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.

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Comments: 4 (Add)

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Vanessa Dennett

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

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

Magical describes it well.

Corrie Fairlie

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

It is my birthday today and I intend to spend most of the day in the garden. 
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There are a couple of orders to send out and some seedlings to drop off, but then it will just be me and this little menace pottering around the vegetable patch and putting seedlings in the ground (and hopefully not digging them up).
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Then I will be away from the main Instagram feed for a couple of weeks. 
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I will still pop up from time to time in the Studio Club stories feed, but otherwise I'll be on a social media break.

📷 @katgoldin 

#momentslikethese
#the_gentle_manifesto
#daysofsmallthings
#natureandnourish
#aseasonalway
#daysofsimpleandslow
#ournaturedays
#aquietmoment
#pocketsofslow
#thesweetlifeunscripted
#folkandstory
#slowliving #mindfulgardening
My elder daughter Zoë asked for a stripy jumper knitted with wool dyed from the garden.
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These are the finished skeins - currently curing in the studio - dyed with sweet cicely, dock, bay, birch and nettle.
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In a month they will be ready to knit with.
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The slowest of slow fashion.

#slowstitching #slowfashion #naturaldyeing #foragedcolour #foragedcolor #naturaldyersofinstagram #sustainablemaking #sustainablecraft #plantdyedyarn #plantdyes
I find that, unless I have a particular time set aside for doing something I often simply don’t get around to it.

Even when that thing takes half an hour, even when I really want to do it. 

So this weekend, in the Studio Club, we set aside some time to start making a balm from daisies. 
I videoed myself as I went along and was there to answer questions. 

It made me realise that it’s actually quite difficult to see from the outside all the things that go on in the Club week to week. 

So I’ve decided to send an extra email every month , just to the people on the waiting list, giving a access to something that is usually members only. 

If you’ve been wondering whether the Studio Club is for you, you can join the waiting list via my profile. 

The next opening is in August. 

#sustainablemaking #slowliving #seasonalhome #daisybalm #herbalife #startwhereyouare #
Kat Goldin came round for a cup of tea and a natter last week - and took this photo of me for the next edition of A Seasonal Way.
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I'm posting it today because it shows off the dress that I am inordinately proud of having knitted! 

The bodice is the Deren cardigan by @jacquelinecieslak and the skirt just flares out from that into a mid calf twirl. 
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My pride is in the keeping going with the knitting . . . and in eventually using up some of the cones of wool silk yarn that I bought from a mill closure in 1984.

📷 @katgoldin 

#derensweater #derenpullover #jacquelineceislak #embodycapsulecollection #memademay2022 #memademay #memademayplus #memade2022 #sustainablefashion #seasonalhome
A week in dyes - recycled cotton threads from the dye pots, sorted, labelled and curing in the Studio.
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From left to right
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Sweet Cicely and iron
Bloody dock
Bay and bloody dock
Bay and iron
Sweet Cicely and bloody dock,
Sweet Cicely

This year I’m exploring layering up colours and creating depth and also trying to work out how the base effects colour. 

#botanicaldye #alchemy #growyourowncolour #gameoftones #plantdyed #naturallydyedwool #plantdyersofinstagram #craftwithconscience
#shadesofnature #extractedfromnature #inspiredbynaturesbeauty
#slowstitching #sustainablemaking #foragedcolour
I picked this Black hero tulip when it fell down in the wind and put it so the evening light could shine through the petals - for unlit it looks a little undefined, a little absent, as many dark flowers do.
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Then as I took this photo it reminded me of the art nouveau drawings of Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh - the willowy bend, the swoop of the curved base, the full head.
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Now I find myself speaking to it as I pass.

#howihueit #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #tulipblackhero #windowsillwednesday #ihaveathingwithwindows #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #floralstories #allthingsbotanical #underthefloralspell #slowfloralstyle #petalsandprops #nestandflourish #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #ihavethisthingwithflowers #moodforfloral #cornersofmyhome #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife #aflowerfilledlife
It is warm enough to have the doors to the dye deck open again - this week there are dock, sweet cicely, bay and nettle in the dye pots, a shuffling around as they steep and simmer.
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Today I shall be writing up my initial results for dyeing with bloody dock (rumex sanguineus) for a Studio Club blog. 

I love having that space to put up progress reports - and the report is  very much in progress as the colours on wool and cotton were radically different - so members can follow along with my experiments.
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Doors close to the Studio Club tomorrow - and the next intake of new members will be in August. If you fancy a summer of seasonal inspiration and slow living then you can find out more and join at www.snapdragonlife.com

📷 @katgoldin 

#mystudio #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #allthingsbotanical #mindfulsewing #foragedcolour #nestandflourish #livethelittlethings #thehappynow  #plantdyersofinstagram #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife
I wrote a letter to the new Studio Club members yesterday. 

It was all about Euan’s Granny, and what she said to me when I was a stressed thirty year old. 

It was about what I thought she meant at the time and what I realise she meant now. (The letter actually goes out tomorrow morning so don’t worry if you haven’t got it 😂)

Then I took this photo of tulips at the ends of the vegetable beds and I remembered that at the time I was receiving the grandmotherly advice was also the year that I grew striped tulips for the first time. It was in my back garden in Old Kilpatrick and I took a bunch through for her. 

When we look back there is often such rhythm to our lives. 

#growyourownflowers #slowliving #cornersofmygarden #slowflowers #aseasonalway
snapdragon.life
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About Snapdragon Life

In the Studio Club 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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