Pie Night; A Ranger’s Perspective; National Meadows Day; Garden Openings; Next Meeting

The first Pie Night which preceded our last meeting was a resounding success and proved a great time for us to get together for an informal bit of socialising! Dave and Esther at the Dolaucothi Arms excelled themselves producing their delicious pies for the 18 of us in good time for us to make it across the road for the meeting.

Sarah Jones then gave us an interesting, amusing and informative talk on her work as a ranger for the National Trust at Dinefwr. Her enthusiasm and love for her work and the area were evident as she gave a fascinating insight into the role of a ranger caring for the park’s landscape, flora and fauna with particular reference to the fallow deer and the White Park Cattle.

The park is well worth a visit, particularly at the moment when the hay and wildflower meadows will be in full bloom. For members who are interested, National Meadows Day is this Saturday with various locations being open for visitors – more info can be found on the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group website (click here).

As part of National Meadows Day………

 Gelli Uchaf Meadows and Garden will be open on Saturday July 2nd 2016

Meadow Walks and a chance to look round the gardens at Gelli Uchaf small holding, which have been designed to incorporate many insect friendly flowers.
This event is in aid of the charities of the National Gardens Scheme.
Places are limited so must be booked.
There are two sessions, 10.30 am and 2.30 pm. Some places are still available for both.
£4 per person. Cakes/teas available as well if pre-booked (£3 pp).

Gelli Meadows                        sdim3594-2

The gardens were featured as 1 of 10 secret gardens in Wales to visit by Wales Online in 2014 and were also filmed in 2016 for BBC2’s Gardener’s World programme. The 11 acres of meadows are being gradually restored to increase floral and fungal diversity and include both hill, and valley bottom wet pastures. A photographic display of the progress so far, will be available, and weather permitting, some of our manual hay making techniques may also be on view.


Anyone who is interested please book  by contacting Julian and Fiona Wormald
 01558 685119
 Gelli Uchaf
SA19 7PY
The opening of member’s gardens at Bwlchau Duon and The Sculptor’s Garden in Ffarmers on Sunday went really well. Congratulations to Brenda and Martin and Angela, the gardens looked wonderful and well deserved the turnout of over 140 visitors who were clearly not put off by the uncooperative weather!

     Anne and John bravely enduring the rain while manning the plant sales at Bwlchau Duon

the tea ladies

The Tea Ladies at Bwlchau Duon

Our next meeting is on Wednesday, July 20th when Helen Warrington from Ty Cwm Nursery will return to give us a talk on ‘The Origins of Plants’ .
Ty Cwm Nursery has a broad range of herbaceous perennials, bedding and veg in season, specialising in blueberries and carnivorous plants. Helen will be bringing a selection of plants from the nursery for sale after the talk.
The Club Plant Shop
This is getting better and better and is making an excellent contribution to club funds. Very many thanks to all those who have supported it both in the supply and purchase of plants. We need to keep the momentum going so please do keep supporting it at each meeting.
To recap: good quality, potted up, labelled, and priced plants to be donated. A table will be set up for the ‘Plant Shop’ at the back of the hall, with a tin for the money to be left in. Please price your donation/s according to size of pot, type of plant and so that it reflects the true value while being less than a garden centre would charge. This way those purchasing will have a good quality product at an advantageous price.


Cothi Gardeners Visit to Picton Castle

Cothi Gardeners Visit to Picton Castle

Wednesday, May 25th , 5pm for picnic, 6pm guided tour by Roddy Milne the Head Gardener

Picton Castle Gardens are described as one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ Great Gardens of West Wales. As their website says:‘What you can see today is the result of many centuries of gardening styles, each overlaying the next, where no one style predominates.’

In the 40 acres of the garden there are woodland walks, a medicinal herb border, a fernery, a walled garden and jungle garden all in the wonderful setting of the 13th Century Castle.

As the talk is in the evening (6pm) we plan on meeting at 5pm in the car park for a bring your own picnic within the grounds.

If you have not already put your name down please do think about coming and let Margaret know at or before our next meeting on April 20th. It should be a really fun and interesting outing and if we can get a group of 20+ together we will qualify for reduced entry of £4.50. Otherwise the entry charge is £7 (concessions £6). Car sharing is available for those who prefer not to drive so please don’t be put off by the distance. From Pumpsaint to Picton should only take about 1 ¼ hrs.


May is a lovely time to visit a garden, but particularly one with an abundance of mature Conifers, Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias such as Picton. To quote from their website for May last year: ‘With the first half of May seeing the wonderful old Magnolias between the castle and walled garden coming into flower, pay a visit to Picton Castle and Gardens this month and you’ll quickly understand why they are famed for its Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias. Some have enormous scented flowers and others, such as the Japanese Azaleas, have many intensely coloured flowers borne in great profusion.’

Picton Rhodo Old Port (2)

Rhododendron ‘Old Port’ reputed to be the largest in the world! Photo taken May 2015

See the Picton Website for more details http://www.pictoncastle.co.uk/


Cothi Gardeners Growing Challenge and Meetings Updates

2016 Growing Challenge

Do you like a challenge? The 2016 gardening challenge was launched last month by our chairperson Daisy. After a successful Tomato Growing Challenge last year, this time it’s a quite different theme: “What can you grow in one pot?” Daisy suggested a medium-sized (about 20 cm diameter) plant pot, either plastic or terracotta, whichever you prefer. You can grow whatever you like, however, you need to be able to bring your pot along to the August meeting, so try and make sure it won’t be too heavy or awkward to lift. As with all our challenges, it is not a competition, just good fun and a chance to be creative.

Meetings Update

Keith Treadaway talk              Keith Treadaway talk 2

We had an excellent meeting on March 16th when Keith Treadaway gave a very informative talk on Clematis and how we could have Clematis in flower all the year round, by choosing the right varieties. He showed us examples of the different Clematis categories, explaining which were relatively easy to grow, along with those that were rather tender or prone to disease, and concluded with a summary of how to plant, care for and most importantly prune them. For those who were not able to make the meeting, or weren’t able to get a handout on the night, Keith’s list of all the Clematis he mentioned or illustrated in his talk  is shown below – remember that not all those in the list are necessarily suitable for our gardens so it is best to look them up before buying. Keith also gave out another handout with  a few useful addresses and some basic tips which is shown below the list. His garden, ‘Rosewood’ is open for the NGS on 17th July – for more info click here.




Keith Treadaway summary 1

Our next meeting is on April 20th at 7.30pm when we welcome back Richard Cain from Penlan Perennials. The theme of Richard’s talk this time is ‘Colourful Shade’ and he will also be bringing some of his excellent plants for us to buy. Penlan Perennials in N. Pembrokeshire specialise in hardy plants used to coping with low temperatures and high rainfall. The nursery is completely organic and has recently won an Environmental Excellence Award from Horticulture Wales. Click on the link to go to their website, penlanperennials.co.uk , to learn more. We do hope you will be able to come and join us for what will prove to be a highly informative and enjoyable evening.

The Plant Shop – this has started well so please do come and support it at each meeting. Remember:  good quality, potted up, labelled, and priced plants to be donated. A table will be set up for the ‘Plant Shop’ at the back of the hall, with a tin for the money to be left in. Please price your donation/s according to size of pot, type of plant and so that it reflects the true value while being less than a garden centre would charge. This way those purchasing will have a good quality product at an advantageous price.

Cothi plant shop


Gardeners’ World – featuring Gelli Uchaf Garden

Gardeners’ World

Saturday March 5th at 8pm (Friday March 4th if you are in England!)

Gelli Uchaf Garden

We were rather pleased to get a call from a BBC2 Gardeners’ World researcher a few weeks ago asking about what Spring bulbs we grew and a bit of background to the garden and ourselves. We were told decisions would be made whether to come and see if we were suitable in the next few days…… a call duly came through and a visit from the recce team was scheduled for the following week. Two very nice chaps came and spent a couple of hours with us walking round the garden and chatting in cold, mizzly conditions while recording it all on a hand held video camera. Now we have been down this path before with the Beeb and it is at this point that we don’t hear anything further – for whatever reason we haven’t been quite what they were looking for. So we were more than a little surprised but delighted to get a call a couple of days after the recce to arrange dates for filming the following week.

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Filming crocus in the snow!

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Crocus opening in some sunshine

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Another take – in the rain!

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Filming Carol Klein as dusk falls

We would have to say it was the garden with its profusion of early spring flowers – Cyclamen, Snowdrops, Hellebores, Iris reticulata, Scilla mischtschenkoana et al all doing their best to impress, rather than the 2 gardeners that convinced the Beeb to come. The weather threw everything at us, mercifully with the exception of strong winds, which was brilliant as it demonstrated just what these wonderful Spring plants have to cope with and yet still manage to delight us with their early colour.

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The three days of filming, one with the full team of five including the lovely Carol Klein, will be condensed down to about 6 minutes and will be broadcast in the first episode of the new series of BBC2 Gardeners’ World on Friday 4th March if you live in England, and Saturday 5th March at 8.30pm if you live in Wales.

FW & Carol Klein (3)

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You can read a write-up about it on the NGS website by following this link:


or our own blog/website by following this link:


Fiona and Julian Wormald

Pest Control and our Inspirational Visit

June Meeting – Pests and how to get rid of them

George Sykes an entomologist gave us a fascinating and most informative talk using his wealth of experience advising governments at home and overseas to maximise crop productivity. He explained that the natural system is in equilibrium, but cultivating a garden upsets that, giving an opportunity for some species to multiply and become pests. He took us through the history of chemical controls to less invasive ways of dealing with common garden trials. He finished by saying that in many ways the human thumb is the best biological control! An informative and entertaining evening.

Ideas for controlling pests and weeds were also suggested by members during discussions after the talk such as milk for controlling mildew and ‘Grazers’ for controlling damage by rabbits, deer, pigeons and geese (http://www.grazers.co.uk/). See the gardening tips page for more information.


Inspirational Visit – Llanllyr Garden
On Sunday 28th June Cothi Gardeners had their inaugural ‘Inspirational Visit’ to Llanllyr garden at Talsarn (https://www.facebook.com/Llanllyr). We enjoyed the sunshine and were shown around the wonderful and indeed inspiring gardens by their creators Mr and Mrs Gee, the current owners of the property. Highlights were the rose garden which was in full bloom, the scents and colours quite amazing, the pool and the random flowering of white foxgloves throughout the garden giving a unity to the whole. The afternoon finished with a Welsh tea on the lawn – perfect!



Gathering in the car park


Chatting during the tour

Llanllyr tea (2)

Cothi Gardeners Meetings Update

At the March meeting of the Cothi Gardeners, Paul O’Neill gave an inspirational and fascinating illustrated talk,

‘The Last Cow – the Making of an NGS garden at Llwyngarreg’.

Primulas    Grasses etc

Paul and his wife Liz, both of whom are biologists moved to the 28 acres of Llwyngarreg in 1992 to follow their dream of self sufficiency. They worked hard at the dream but by 2000 small scale farming had left them exhausted and they realised that it was no longer sustainable. The last calf left the pastures that year and slowly a garden began to emerge from the farm. Paul was a Biology teacher and a group of his A level students gave him a Rhododendron as a leaving gift and so the love affair with particular plant groups was started.

Pond                      Hostas

Fifteen years later the 3 ½ acre garden is open to the public and is home to many specific habitats enabling rich collections of Meconopsis, Primula, Bamboo, Magnolia and surprisingly for wet West Wales, Agapanthus and Dierama (Angel’s Fishing rods). And it all started with a Rhododendron!

The next meeting of Cothi gardeners is on Wednesday 15th April at 7.30pm when Jade from Wild Pickings will give us a talk on Foraging Products. In May Alison Sparshalt will talk about The Walled Garden at Treberfydd-A new Beginning. She will bring plants for sale too.

Future events to look forward to are on 21st October we will be welcoming Dr Noel Kingsbury the internationally known garden designer and writer on gardens and the environment. His naturalistic approach to planting seems to sit well here in Wales so we are very lucky to have this opportunity to have him talk at a Cothi Gardeners meeting.

Last year Jane, a member of Cothi Gardeners was diagnosed with lung cancer. She is a very positive person so true to form she started a fundraising campaign for the Roy Castle Lung Foundation. To help her raise as much money as possible for such an excellent cause Jane’s Garden Party will be held on Saturday evening 4th July and from 1-6pm on Sunday 5th July. More details will be available in May.

We are an open group who welcomes new faces, so do join us at 7.30 pm on the third Wednesday of the month, in the Coronation Hall, Pumsaint. Members are £12/year and visitors £2/ meeting.

Click the follow button on our home page to get regular posts and updates.

Follow us on our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/cothigardeners.

More details about the group can also be obtained from Elena 01558 685321 or Daisy 01558 650829



Cothi Gardeners reviewed 2014 and started our new gardening year with our AGM and New Year ‘bring a dish’ supper on January 21st. Twenty five members of the club gathered at the Coronation Hall, Pumsaint for the evening to hear Chairperson Daisy expertly steer us through her report, the finances, and the election of the committee members for the coming year. We were given tantalising hints about the good things planned for 2015, for example a ‘Growing Challenge’, an inspirational garden visit and a website and blog.

After the formalities of the business part of the meeting we all relaxed over our ‘bring a dish’ feast and were entertained by Derek’s ‘slightly easier than last years’ quiz! It was an enjoyable evening marking the start of the new gardening year.

We are an enthusiastic and friendly bunch of gardeners who meet on the third Wednesday of every month in the Coronation Hall Pumsaint at 7.30. Members pay £12 for a year and visitors are most welcome for £2 per visit, which includes refreshments.

Why not join us for our next meeting on March 18th at 7.30 when the speaker will be Paul O’Neill. He will give a talk intriguingly titled ‘The Last Cow-the making of a NGS garden at Llwyngarreg.

The April meeting is about ‘foraging products’ and will be given by Jade Mellor from Wild Pickings who was featured in a recent Country Living magazine article.

We look forward to welcoming both familiar and new faces in March. More information available from Daisy on 01558 650829 or Elena on 01558 685321.