Bodfach Hall Gardens - 2012

Bodfach Gardens S ince it is the Queen’s Jubilee year, it was only right to celebrate that by focusing on a corner of the garden which, in estate agent’s parlance, had ‘scope for improvement’. So we have created our own Jubilee Garden in the walled area next to the house. It started off, like all good intentions, as one thing - a vegetable garden - and has mutated into a Fort Knox of precious floral gems kept at paw’s length from the rabbits. I have had to decrease the gauge of the chicken wire as the smaller rabbits can get through even a thimble-sized hole. Not that I’m obsessive, or anything.

All those wonderful campanulas, lavenders, geums, artemisia, meconopsis (both Welsh and Himalayan) and dahlias – some of which routinely I would discover munched to the ground to within a millimetre of their former existence - are now flourishing in the protection of a castellated oasis of brick and chicken wire. There is even a vantage point from which to sit under cover and drink in the view against a backdrop of sheep-dotted hills - if you had time, of course. What I had not bargained for is the extra time needed to keep everything weed-free in a productive garden. Bare earth around the crops, unlike a herbaceous border, is positively encouraged. So, being a veggie garden ingénue, I have created a new rod for my already well-beaten back. But who cares?

It has been great fun so far and my early new potatoes (the only edible things – apart from the herbs - that are growing here) will, I am sure, be delicious! As the temperature in the new garden is at least 2 degrees higher than anywhere else, I shall attempt to grow some tender climbers only possible in the South or East, for example, Trachelospermum jasminoides, in the hope that its scent transports me to India from time to time. Next year, I might even try growing a few more edible crops. One step at a time.

We are so used to the weather being unpredictable that we can now safely predict its unpredictability to the day, so I waited patiently until mid-May before putting in anything remotely tender. There are always casualties, however, at the other end of the warm season; I fear I am always hopelessly optimistic about the longevity of summer when it comes to predicting the onset of frost and last year I lost a beautiful pot of Echeveria raised from a tiny specimen bought in Cornwall, which perished after hanging on for a week in sub-zero late autumn mornings. This year I hope that I shall learn my lesson and bring them all inside in good time. It is, for me, a sign of resignation that the summer is well and truly over, so I try to fight it but shouldn’t. Of course, the other excuse is that it is always tricky to find space to overwinter all those refugees...

Another new space has been created by the introduction of a Shepherd’s Hut into a part of the garden already populated by mature bamboos, acers and rhododendrons. It has in a stroke transformed the atmosphere of the place into a magical, secret-like dell which, next year, will hopefully contain more cottage-style plants near the newly-exposed pathway discovered only last week under a fallen R. ponticum.

It gives us great pleasure that this year we are lucky once again to welcome the young musicians of the North Powys Youth Music Trust who have been playing to delighted audiences at our Garden Open for 5 years now. Without their commitment and spirit, the day would seem incomplete. We are also indebted to our home team of Wendy, Alan, Mike and Geoff who annually rise to the challenge and our not insubstantial requests.

Finally, our warmest thanks to you all for coming – especially on this Jubilee Day when there is a myriad of choice for your presence and attention elsewhere. It is wonderful to know that, with a bit of weeding and grass cutting (not to mention Claire Ellis’ cake-baking and tea-making), we can collectively help fund our local charities and keep the spirit of Llanfyllin alive. This year we are supporting the Vestry appeal for the Tabernacle Chapel in Llanfyllin, the Llangynog Bowling Club, the Community Centre in Hirnant and the Penryhndeudraeth branch of the Gwynedd Hospice at Home.

Maggie Baynes (May 2012)