Compost always provokes a lively debate in the gardening world.

We all know it is good and we see Monty Don using vast quantities of the stuff. Equally those who garden know just how difficult it is to make in the quantity a large garden requires and how much energy is required to say nothing of the logistical issues of space and organisation to store it.

Last year I went on a compost making course at our friends Sue and Ian Mabberley’s garden at nearby Nant y Bedd and was inspired to make better compost.

Now I cut up woody stems with a pair of Jakoti shears (watch out they are lethally sharp as my scars testify) and add as near as I can make 50% green to 50% woody material. This needs watering and an accelerator should be added. It needs turning after 6 or 8 weeks and maybe I will have some decent stuff this year.

I also acquire from accredited sources horse manure mainly for the vegetable plots which get depleted more easily. The soil here being heavy clay does not need a lot of feeding but does need  aerating .

I would love to be an advocate of no dig gardening but I think it is a con trick. Nobody digs for pleasure but we all need to weed and if that is not digging , what is ? However, as a nod to the principle I will be adding mulch regularly and hoping it smothers the weeds.

I am also going to get some ancient well rotted cow muck this year so will be interested to see what effect it has on the flower beds !


What sort of man makes Jam !

Well I do because I like the stuff. My parents were to blame. They made 40 lbs of marmalade each year in January and I do the same but not in that quantity. I like to make dark Seville, light Seville and Ginger Seville.

You can buy some on our open days.

We also have far more soft fruit than we can handle so look out for my Strawberry, Raspberry and Blackcurrent jams.

I do make chutney and the best one for our garden is All of the Garden chutney as you can add anything in that you have glut of. I also can’t resist green tomato chutney but 2018 was such a hot year that the tomatoes were over before the end of September and so we were short of green tomatoes, the essential ingredient. The same happened with our beans which needed more water than we could give them.


On the subject of water, we have our own borehole which we found was inadequate for the water demands last year in the heat wave.

We need to find a way of storing winter rainfall but to make this viable we need to store at least 10,000 litres and find a way of using it under gravity.

If you have any thoughts or comments let us know !

25 March 2019

Opening out some Woodland

In 2004 an acre block of woodland was planted up with mixed native trees mainly oak, ash, field maple, wild cherry and some birch, sorbus and hawthorne.

In 15 years the trees have grown well on their south sloping site despite damage from squirrels.

It has now been thinned and the canopy lifted. New paths are being created linking with a new entrance from the Art & memory field.

May Blossom

I have never know a year as fine for May Blossom. The warm spell in February might have helped and the cold snap without much frost must have been beneficial for the setting of flowers. Here are some photos taken around 21 May.

RIBA West Midlands Awards

On 17 May 2019, the Bridge at Middle Hunt House designed by Michael Crowley Architect and built by local contractors Downey Engineering and Advance Joinery both of Pontrilas Herefordshire received two RIBA awards for best building including the only award for Client of the Year to Rupert and Antoinette Otten.

The citation from RIBA says it all !

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