There have been many challenges since the first euphoric weeks after the purchase of the land was finalised. We are 982 ft above sea level, south facing with a constant cross wind and breathtaking views of the Brecon Beacons . The land had been grazed by Welsh Black cattle for some time and is incredibly impacted with much damage to water courses.
About 1 acre is covered by native rushes with mountain springs which come and go according to the weather conditions , they also frequently re locate just to add to the challenge! Few trees on the windward side had survived the fires which had consumed the common land adjoining, in the months before the purchase. Yes ,fairly daunting but so lovely and inspiring everything seemed possible.
There followed the wettest autumn I remember in Wales, then a biting winter with temperatures down to -16 !! The Spring came late followed by a drought and panic because the first of the trees had been planted .
Slowly but surely more trees have been added paths have begun to be established, work on the old blocked watercourses is helping the drainage although as we begin to understand and appreciate the land more fully , the decision to leave sections fallow has had interesting results. There is a marked increase in beneficial insects and many dragonflies enjoying the restored pond.
There have of course been losses and surprises, but we have learnt a huge amount too! Research is continuing on edible plants and new varieties and old are being introduced, we are especially interested in anyones memories of orchards and vegetable gardening on nearby farms in the past.
In the orchard the most productive trees last year were the cider apples, so the decision has been made to add to them, the results of the planting so far is being carefully monitored, and we welcome any donations of plants and trees (and cuttings /seeds which are known to thrive in this area. Work is underway in the home glasshouse to propagate new plants for this year, lets hope its a good one weather wise.