Llanidloes open day

kitchen party

We had a final push to finish jobs in the Llanidloes garden yesterday before our open event in the afternoon. The weather stayed dry if a little windy, but we had around 70 people call in through the day to look at the transformed community space.

open day


We enjoyed pizza cooked in the cob oven, by our Newtown volunteer chefs, Chris and Alistair. We ate salad harvested from the garden.  On display was the photo diary of how the garden has progressed over the last year. Transformed into diverse habitats for wildlife, whilst providing food and sanctuary for all of us.

seed bombs



We made wild flower seed bombs for people to take home and spread around the place.





In the morning Dave, David and Brian put up the flag pole, we forgot to bring a flag so David quickly made one from scrap material. The flag pole was a request from the scout groups, so that when they are using the garden they can fly the Union jack. Most the time we will be displaying our Green flag award. If anyone is feeling artistic and wants to make us a community garden flag, please do. Brian and I finished the entrance sign off, attaching the waterproof clip frames, that will allow anyone to put up fliers and notices in the dry.

finished viewing platformRhys and I laid the paving in front of the viewing platform to give a smooth level surface to access this area. Whilst keeping an eye on the fire in the cob oven that needed to be lit three hours before we started cooking. Beryl arrived early for the open event and stepped straight in to help us out, planting the last of the plants in the bed for dye plants.


The garden is open at all times for anyone to visit, volunteer sessions are on Monday mornings. You can find the site behind Bethel Street Chapel in the centre of town.

Next week in the garden I will be teaching a two hour practical session on over wintering crops. Come an get stuck in, we will be planting and sowing a variety of crops that will give you a crop from May next year. Peas, beans, onions, garlic, salads, herbs. No experience needed, and it’s FREE. 10 – 12am. Booking is essential for this course, through the botanic garden of Wales.




Busy volunteer day and willow workshop

This Monday saw a busy day in the Llani garden, finishing off different projects before our open day next week. When we will be firing up the pizza oven, making wild flower seed bombs and praying for good weather.

The weather wasn’t looking to promising this week, but it turned out to be a lovely day, the rain held off and the busyness of activity kept everyone warm.

willow workshopwillow fenceBeryl Smith ran a day long workshop in willow weaving to create a beautiful and practical fence above the terraces. This was constructed with fresh green willow just cut this week, so still with leaves, but these will drop off over the next couple of weeks leaving a clean tidy weave. As we now have a pond in this area it is important that we close this area off from unattended children. The pond can be viewed from the new platform and there will be a gate giving access to this area for maintenance, harvesting and education. The fencing will give the neighbouring houses a bit more privacy, and hopefully they will feel a little less overlooked as visitors eyes are taken away from their back gardens and onto the planting around the pond. Now that this area has been completed It is wonderful to see the realisation of the wildlife area design that was created by level 2 gardening students from WEA Cymru (formally Coleg Harlech WEA). I think all will agree it is well designed and constructed and works beautifully.

gateBrain got together with Dave and David to hang the new gate, and fix the new gate post. Not an easy job as the post hole didn’t go far in the ground before hitting concreted bricks.



Rhys cob ovenMeanwhile our regular volunteer Rhys worked on his own make a clay, sand mix to patch up the oven before next weeks pizza session. The oven suffered some rain damage a while back before we had time to cover it, but it now has a roof to protect it and it no longer leaks. Rhys patched up the oven and gave it a new coat of clay all over, so hopefully this will keep it good for the winter.

Tinisha popped in for a lunch time session, when she grabbed an hour off from toddler and new baby. Plenty long enough to build a raised bed for her micro allotment, where she hope to grow herbs and salad for their great little venue The Old Mill.

seating plantedThe Cultivate team were here on mass this week, with Seri from the Cultivate nursery and Rachel working with volunteers to clear and plant the area around the sunken seating area. In preparing the ground four large pieces of slate were dug up, which we will find uses for around the garden. The bed was edged with wood and topped up with 1/2 a ton of top top soil. A box hedge was planted to back the bench seat, with rosemary and lavender for scent and to attract insects.

Hope to see everyone next Monday for pizza and pictures of the site development.

New pond for Llani

We had another good day developing the wildlife area in the Llanidloes cocaroline & Rees- digging the bog gardenmmunity garden. Regular volunteer Rees started the day with the help of Caroline and myself weeding the apple terrace and path, clearing seedling brambles and rosebay willow herb. We then moved on to digging out the bog garden. This is positioned at the end of this area just under the edge of the corrugated roofs, where it will catch the drips to keep the soil moist for all the bog loving plants.

The day started wet, with some heavy rain showers, but that was just what we needed to fill the pond that we had lined last week. The rain stopped mid morning, so we finished filling the pond with a long hose. Once the pond was full of water we could then trim off the excess liner and start to bury the edge.

julie & Caroline bog gardenThe trimmings of liner gave us just what we needed for the bog garden liner. These were laid in strips in the prepared bog area with a few holes made for drainage. We want the bog garden wet but not flooded. Level 2 gardening students that had designed the area came back to help. Julie and Alison came to join Caroline in the afternoon to get the area finished. Last but not least the planting could begin.

new wildlife areaThe planting plan has been designed for year round interest for us whilst providing food and habitat for wildlife. Planting is mainly based on native plants with a few naturalised and non native plants for added interest or to restrict growth and spread. Choosing a variety of colours and shapes of flowers attracts a wide range of insects. Always selecting single flowers for pollen collecting insects, rather than being tempted by multi petalled hybrids, that often are missing the sexual parts of the flower that carry the pollen.

Julie pondA mixture of woody plants (shrubs and climbers) and herbaceous plants (soft stemmed plants) gives habitat for a range of insect and amphibians all year. This area is one of the shadiest places in the garden, which is not ideal for ponds. The design has ensured that the pond will catch any available sun and will not be further shaded by planting. Lower growing ground cover plants have been used on the east side, so as not to block the sun, whilst taller plants at the back of the pond give protected exit routes for pond life.The sun directly hits this area most of the morning, whilst the decking continues to catch some sun into the afternoon.

What is needed now is a selection of nice big river stones to go around the pond and bog area. These will hide the pond liner and give hiding places for a range of wildlife.

Volunteers always welcome on a Monday. Over the next couple of weeks we will be building an entrance arch and notice board. As well as helping new allotment holders build their micro allotments ready for the free practical planting course on Monday  3rd November. This Saturdays course (11th Oct) is ‘Extend your growing season’. Booking for both courses is essential.

Come and join us for pizza and tours of the garden on our open day Monday 27th October 12-4 pm.

New wild life area

carrot harvestbugsLlanidloes garden is buzzing with activity….. new micro allotments being built, summer harvests and the development of the wildlife area.

The wildlife area has been design by level two gardening students and has been funded by the ‘Grow wild’ project. Yesterday past students came back to help finish digging out and shape the pond area. We used recycled carpet as underlay to protect the butyl pond liner from sharp stones. Above this sits a viewing platform that over looks the pond and wildlife area, this has been built by volunteer Glen over the last week.










Next Monday we will be developing the bog area and planting the whole area with native plants following the planting plan created by gardening students. This area has been designed to be both ornamental and of benefit to wildlife. It will provide all year around pollen, berries and shelter, to increase local insects that are so important for food growing. They provide pollination services and act as predators for our food pests. For more info on why this is so important follow this link from the WWF report on global loss of wildlife over the last 40 years.

Sunny September in Llani

water collection- reducedWe had a lovely hot and sunny volunteer session this week and the perfect job for such weather. Starting the day with sorting out the water collection and recycling. We have been donated a very mucky IBC which regular volunteer Rees gave a good scrub to get clean.Whilst Brian fixed the gutters and down pipe running off the chapel.  We have also been offered a second water butt which we will link into the system when it arrives. A lot of the garden is made up of raised beds without a lot of soil under them, so they do require a lot of watering. We may not have had the water collection sorted for this summers hot weather but we will be ready for the next spell of dry weather.

tile workshop reducedThe next job for the day was fixing the finished mosaic tiled wall to the kitchen area. It was originally to go on the breeze block wall as a sink splash back, but it looks so fantastic we decided to put it in a prime visable location on our stud wall which makes up the kitchen area. This way it can be seen as soon as you enter the garden. The mosaic was created during a two day workshop hosted by Terri Sweeney as part of the ‘Grow wild’ summer activities. The participants cut and laid the tiles to make up individual letters, then designed insects and plants for the corners. Tiles were place upside down in an indirect method which later Terri fixed and grouted to the eight foot board.

commuity garden tiles- reduced

Terri is a local artist who runs a variety of courses and workshops in the community, at festivals and for schools.

finished tile wall- reduced







The Grow wild project has been running through the summer promoting wild and native plants and animals. We have had some funding to enable us to do a series of free summer art workshops for all ages. The last part of this project is to complete the wildlife area in the garden, including establishing a pond and native plants. I have the pond liner ready to go in and have just been donated some old carpet to use as underlay to protect it from stones. Come and get involved on Monday 29th September and 6th October.

Next week in the garden we will be making the last of the raised beds to be used as micro allotments. There are still a few plots available on a first come basis and we still need a donation of a few more planks for our 2m by 1.2m bed. Get in touch or get involved Monday 15th September 10am – 2pm. This will be followed by a short National Botanic Gardens course ‘Extending your growing season’. This course is on 11th October 10am – 1pm and only cost £5. Get started with some over wintering food crops for harvest early next year. To  enrol contact bookings.

Poster short gardening course 2014

We will be finishing our summer season with a half term Grow wild get together in the garden. Keep and eye open for confirmation of time and date. Join us for  a harvest gathering,  bring and share, fire up the pizza oven, sit around the fire pit and have fun with kids activities.


Grow wild

10593178_10202302906485938_8824817254722291747_nWe have had a series of grow wild craft workshop over the summer. Irene started the season with creating a colourful wall mural to cover the breeze block wall that backs the kitchen seating area. She followed this last week with a two day workshop making up-cycled insects that are decorating the garden, rambling over walls, crawling up plants and flying around our heads.

It might have been wet but there were still some creatures hatching. Here our regular volunteer Brian is busy helping one emerge.
















Meanwhile Terri has been working on the final fixings for the mosaic tiled wall. This workshop was held over a busy 2 days with 20 people attending on Monday to cut and fix tiles to spell out ‘Community garden’. Local youngsters went home inspired to draw designs of insect that were then made from tiles the next day to decorate each corner of the wall. We will be fixing the tiled panel to the wall behind the sink to give a washable hygienic surface in the kitchen area.

As a continuation of our Grow wild season we will be creating a wildlife area to increase the beneficial insects needed to protect all the wonderful bounty of fruit and vegetables from pests. Work will start soon on a viewing platform that will over look this area. On Monday 29th we will be fitting the pond liner and planting native plants. If anyone has any native plants that they can donate to the garden or if you wish to help form this new area please come and get involved or contact the Cultivate team. We will also need old carpets or sand as a liner underneath the pond liner to protect it from sharp stones. Donations gratefully received.

There are still some micro allotments available and we are after donations of wood to help make the raised bed to reduce barriers and encourage people to get growing. Planks either 1.2m or 2m long are needed please contact the team if you can help. On 11th October we are running a National botanic gardens one day gardening course ‘ Veg for autumn sowing’ Only £5 and perfect to get you started. For those wanting a bit more you can join courses through WEA Cymru starting 25th and 26th September in ‘Essential Gardening skills’ for beginners or ‘Level 2 gardening’ for those more experienced and wanting a deeper understanding.

The next couple of Mondays in the garden volunteers and micro allotment holders will be sorting out the water collection system…… better late than never, it will be ready for the next dry spell….

We will also be mulching perennial beds and preparing ground for planting.



Summer craft workshop

Grow wild-summer craftsAs part of our summer season of Grow Wild workshops we have Terri Sweeney this coming Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th August, in Llani community food garden.Come and get involved making a mosaic tiled mural for the kitchen wall. Hang out in the sun and discuss future potential for this exciting new space. To keep younger children entertained and anyone else, we will be making wild-flower seed bombs to take home.

Please tell your friends and anyone who may be interested, families, artists, cubs, brownies, scouts etc.. Bring your own lunch. This FREE summer crafty workshop for all, is between 10am – 3pm on both days.

Then this will be followed by Insect sculptures on the 26th and 27th August with Irene Gardiner.

Throughout the summer as part of our Grow Wild summer season we will be creating a wildlife area.  Following the design produced by level 2 gardening students from ‘WEA Cymru Llanidloes’, the area will include a pond, planting, viewing platform and fencing. We are looking for donations of native plants, building materials, peoples time and skills. Please contact the Cultivate’s ‘Get Growing‘ team if you can help. Or visit us in Llanidloes on a Monday 10am – 4pm.

For anyone interested in Getting Growing we still have some micro allotment spaces left and we have a selection of growing courses coming up. From taster half and one day practical courses to regular weekly lessons.

25.9. 14 – Level 2 gardening 22 wks each Thurs 9.30- 3pm. – Llanidloes

26.9.14 – Essential gardening 12 wks each Friday 9.30 – 12 – Llanidloes

26.9.14 – Essential gardening 12 wks each Friday 1- 3.30pm – Newtown

11.10.14- Extend your growing season 10am- 1pm – Llanidloes

3.11.14 – Purely practical – overwintering crops 10am-1pm Llanidloes

9.1.14 – Garden design – design your own garden. 12 wks Friday Morning

20.2.14 – Organic gardening, 20 wks Friday afternoons

21.2.14 – Extend your growing season 10am- 1pm – Llanidloes

21.3.14 – Back garden edibles 9.30 – 1pm – Llanidloes

30.5.14 – Summer pruning 10am – 4.30pm – Newtown

Poster gardening courses 2014

Record breaking Welsh cake


Last weekend was the Llani chartered market 734th birthday and to celebrate they made the biggest welsh cake ever, aiming to smash the world record.

_MG_7315Chameleon Engineering made the 6 foot pan to cook it on, whilst Welsh Oak Frames donated the wood for the fire. The fire was prepared and kept going by the Llani scout explorer group in the Llani community food garden.   A large scaffolding tripod was made as a trivet shown here.  A whooping £50 worth of ingredients was donated by the Co-op and mixed up in giant mixing bowls.

_MG_7481 copy Once cooked the pan was carried down Great Oak street, weighed and cut with pastry cutters to make ordinary sized welsh cakes for all to try.

When cooked it weighed a massive 26kgs. A world record – was made by a group of volunteers and then cut up and distributed in aid of Air Ambulance.

The last four were saved to put on eBay, buy one here.

 It was Yummmmy. Well done all involved. See moremoremore.

Grow Wild- wall mural

Wall art LlaniLast week saw the first of our ‘Grow Wild’ summer art workshops. The good weather and the start of the school holidays saw a good number of youths getting involved. Thanks to Irene Gardiner for leading the workshop based on creative art to do with biodiversity and wildlife.

We have two more workshops coming up….. mossacia tile walls for the kitchen area with Terry. Followed by insect sculpture with Irene. Come and join in,bring a picnic and stay the day, these workshops are free to all.

This summer we will be finishing the wildlife area and pond. There will be some more top soil coming out of the pond area, so the perfect time to fill a raised bed and there are still a couple of plots left if anyone wants one please get in touch with the cultivate team.

International evening in Llanidloes food garden

Photo-0102Llanidloes Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorer Scouts enjoyed a sunny international evening in the community garden Llanidloes on Wednesday 14th May. The younger Beavers and Cubs made bugs from around the world whilst older children made bunting to represent different nations.

international evening

The older Scouts and explorers sawed and chopped wood and made a fire in the cob oven for cooking pizza’s and made a fire to sit around. Everyone enjoyed traditional Italian style pizza from the clay oven, about 40 in all.  Stacks of pancakes with sweet treat toppings were consumed and drinks from around the world were tasted, such as: laasi from India and Ice tea from the States.


fire-pit seating area

Llanidloes Scouts are  fundraising for a trip to the international scout camp in Kandesteg, Switzerland. The 9 participants will be part of a jamboree camp with over 1000 Scouts worldwide. While individuals are paying for their own transport, camp fees and food, they are fundraising to take part in extra events such as staying in alpine huts high in the mountains and glacier walking.

willow fenceThe Scouts from Llanidloes will be sharing Welsh culture by inviting other nations to supper to share food, songs and games as well as exchanging Welsh symbols such as daffodil badges, rugby motifs etc while at the jamboree. They will also be visiting other nationalities to learn about their cultures.