Events, Events, Events:- Wales Wildflower Day; Jane’s Open Garden Party; and Noel Kingsbury Workshop at Gelli Uchaf Garden

A rare plug on the blog for 3 special events.SDIM3064 (2)

Firstly a brief mention that next Sunday, June 28th, at the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW), the third annual Wales wildflower day will be hosted. By way of a sneak preview, we were fortunate to be able to visit this Friday for a members’ coffee morning and guided walk through a tiny section of the wildflower meadows at the Garden’s Waun Las National nature reserve, as well as being given a preview of the new beds located by the biomass heating complex. These have been developed to showcase selections of different habitats from round the country, and the unique flora that these different environments support.SDIM3069 (2)

I hope that these photos will encourage you along next Sunday. The NBGW always have so much to see that we’ve never made it into the meadows before. What have we been missing!SDIM3072 (2)

Huge swathes of native wildflowers, including masses of orchids.SDIM3082 (2)And with the weather warming up, lots of interesting insects around too – we got close to colourful Five-spot Burnet moths, Zygaena trifolii, in the meadow.SDIM3079 (2)Whilst looking at the more artificially created, but now diverse ‘meadows’ surrounding the Great glasshouse, there were also large numbers of beautiful Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus, and Large skipper, Ochlodes sylvanus butterflies now around – though these are a little more camera shy.SDIM3085 (2)

If you want to check out the differences between Cat’s-ears, Hypochaeris radicata, and Rough Hawkbits, Leontodon hispidus, go and have a look – there are thousands of flowers to examine. Or just stand and look, open-mouthed in amazement.SDIM3086 (2)

If you’ve wondered what Eyebrights, Euphrasia sp. look like, go along and look at it studding the under storey in many areas.SDIM3091 (2)

There will be guides on hand and lots of information and advice for visitors about the garden’s spectacular collections of wildflower meadows.



Secondly, the following Sunday July 5th, there is a unique event held to raise funds for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Jane Holmes is an inspirational fellow member of our local Cothi Gardener’s Club (CGC click here) who, whilst battling the disease herself through surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, has also set herself the target of raising over £10,000 for further work in this challenging field.20150621_150829_002 (2) Fellow CGC members are very generously hosting a weekend of fundraising at their lovely gardens at Glan-yr-Afon near Pumsaint. 

This is a unique opportunity to visit a beautiful, private, 3 acre garden set amidst the rolling Carmarthenshire hills on Sunday 5th July between 1 and 6 pm.20150621_150745_001 (2)
Surrounding the old stone house, watermill and goat shed, the garden has been developed over the last decade by Anne and Philip into a peaceful haven bounded by the loop of the stream you cross to arrive. Lush plantings of perennials and shrubs, many mature trees, colour themed borders, and meandering paths with viewpoints throughout, enticing visitors to wander and explore. 20150621_151239_001 (2)There’s even a shady pool linking to a large productive vegetable plot, an orchard, and beyond are walks through nearly 20 acres of gently sloping meadows and woods which should be teeming with orchids, scabious, other diverse wildflowers and butterflies at this time of year.20150621_150603_001 (2) Come rain or shine, do visit and be inspired, and enjoy lots more including fabulous teas, raffles and book and plant stalls. This is one of the prettiest local private gardens we know in the area, so do come and enjoy a relaxing afternoon, and support a great cause.
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And finally an advance notice for any regular or occasional blog readers of a special event taking place at our Gelli Uchaf garden on Thursday October 22nd this year. We’re delighted that Dr. Noel Kingsbury has agreed to host one of his popular workshops here from 10 am. to 4 pm. This will be the only time that we open the garden to the public this year, and at a time when there is still much to see, (as these pictures from previous Octobers in the garden demonstrate) and it will provide the backdrop to Noel’s practical course, which he describes as follows:SDIM7754 (2)
The rabbit’s eye view – long term plant performance
How long will plants survive? Will they spread? How will my new border look in five years time? This full-day garden-based workshop aims at encouraging participants to observe garden and landscape plants, focusing on their growth through the year, looking at how they compete with each other, how to assess prospects for their longevity and their suitability for a variety of garden locations. Gardeners and designers can then use their experience and knowledge of plants to plan for the maximising of interest and the minimising of maintenance at all seasons.SDIM4318 (2)I aim to get people thinking about how plants are linked to their natural habitats and ecology, and how this connects to the way we use them in gardens. I am particularly interested in getting students to get ‘the rabbit’s eye view’ – believing that close observation of garden plant growing habits and lifecycles can add enormously to our ability to be good gardeners and designers, but also add to a better appreciation of our plants.
A mix of inside and outside tuition.
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For those who would like more information about Noel’s work and interests, he describes himself as a writer about gardening, garden designer, horticultural consultant and teacher. Being a much travelled garden writer, click here for a link to some of his many wonderfully written and illustrated books on a diverse range of gardening related topics. The workshop will be a fantastic opportunity to tap into the breadth of his knowledge gained from looking at garden planting and design from around the world over the last 2 decades. SDIM9360 (2)

During 1986-1993 Noel ran a nursery near Bristol, growing herbaceous plants and tender species suitable for conservatories. Undertaking a number of garden design projects during the 1990s, Noel began to explore the possibilities of growing plants in ‘artificial ecosystems’. The problem he recognised was:

“People were wanting wildflowers, but often had a hopelessly romantic notion of what that meant. The fact is that we (in Britain) have very few garden-worthy native plants, indeed we have a pretty restricted native flora anyway, so I began to be interested in combining natives and non-natives, in combinations which would require minimal intervention from the gardener”.SDIM9370 (2)

Realising that there was very little knowledge about such planting in Britain, Noel looked overseas to Brazil, the US, Germany and Holland in particular, to see what other countries were doing. A close association with planting ideas from Germany and Holland (with Piet Oudolf) has been a central part of Noel’s life ever since. The whole field of ‘ecological planting design’ also drew him into working with the department of landscape at Sheffield University, a world centre for the integration of ecology, landscape and horticulture. In 2009 Noel was awarded a doctorate for his research on long-term perennial planting at Sheffield University.SDIM9543 (2)

More about Noel can be found on his website
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So given my enthusiasm for photographing plants from a rabbit’s viewpoint, our use of native plants and an increasing tendency in our garden for multicultural intermingling planting, it’s an event to look forward to. It’s also really good value, if you compare it with similar events elsewhere, at a cost of £35 per person for the workshop, including morning and afternoon tea/coffee and biscuits/cakes. And this includes an NGS donation for visiting the garden.S1020012 (2)

You can bring your own packed lunch, or there is an option of a home-made soup and bread, plus pudding, lunch (including my infamous milk and treacle multigrain bread) for an additional £5.SDIM5498 (2)

There is a limit of 20 participants for this workshop, and there are now no places left, (as of 08/07/2015), but if you’d like to go on a reserve list, or are interested in any future workshops which we might hold, then do please get in touch via phone or email. It would be really lovely to welcome a few blog readers to see the garden in the green, visit a traditional Welsh longhouse and small holding, and share this workshop. SDIM3828 (2)If you’re coming from a distance we can suggest accommodation options, and other attractions in the area, as well as Noel’s lecture to the CGC the previous evening on

“Women, Men and Gardening”

Do we garden differently? An entertaining look at whether men and women garden differently? If so, how and why? A bit of gentle sociology illustrated with a variety of historical visual material.SDIM9501 (2)

6 thoughts on “Events, Events, Events:- Wales Wildflower Day; Jane’s Open Garden Party; and Noel Kingsbury Workshop at Gelli Uchaf Garden

    • Thanks Marianne, If like us you’ve never seen the NBGW wildflower meadows at this time of the year, do go and look…and come to Anne’s! As for NK’s workshop, whilst its a way off, we’re really excited about what we all might learn – when he visited the garden to check it out, he was able to answer a couple of questions I’ve had for years, with information I’d never have thought of or been able to find out ….because of his knowledge and experience of gardens and natural habitats from so many parts of the world. He is, I think going to be a very special tutor.
      Best wishes

  1. What wonderful options to visit and enjoy gardens, especially with the very British addition of tea/coffee and cakes. Amelia

  2. I last visited the National Botanic Gardens in Wales 35 years ago, I think it was late Spring time and cant imagine back then an annual Wildflower day, wonderful that we celebrate this now. I have only just read your post this morning and now trying to think through the logistics of your course on Oct 22nd, I would really like to attend, love the phrase ‘Rabbits eye view’ too.

  3. Julian, Just tried to email you but its being returned as address incorrect, can you contact me? Julie

    • Hello Julie, Thanks for the comments… I just double checked and I’d missed out an ‘i’ from our email address, in the above post, which probably explains your problems!!! It should now be correct , so maybe try again using this updated address, or the one on our home page contact details, or else ring in an evening. It would be great if you could join us…we already have another blog reader, and friend, who’s going to be joining us,
      I might try and email you as well,
      Best wishes

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