Saturday, 27 December 2014

Cefn Ila's Secret Garden

Today, enjoying some much needed Christmas down time, I took Dewi for a nice leisurely walk up at one of my favourite local haunts near Usk - Cefn Ila. Those of you who have been following my Usk Chirps posts over the last year will be aware that I have written about Cefn Ila on a couple of previous occasions and for those of you who haven't  seen these already and want to know more about the history and background of Cefn Ila and the restorative work going on there,  I will put some signposts to them at the bottom of this blog.

Dewi loves walking at Cefn Ila

I've been taking a few photos at Cefn Ila at regular intervals during the year and this update features photos taken through October to December. Its been a very mild Autumn and Winter so far and although the deciduous trees have now shed their leaves. everywhere is still remarkably green.

On the last few occasions I've been to Cefn Ila I have enjoyed exploring not only the newly planted woodland, but the adjacent site of the old Cefn Ila Mansion, orchard and walled garden. Thanks to the work of the Woodland Trust, volunteer work parties and some recently won Heritage Lottery funding,  these areas are gradually being cleared and rejuvenated, breathing life back into this secret garden which has lain hidden for a long time beneath choking brambles and ivy.

When Dewi and I got back from our walk at lunchtime,  it seemed quite fitting that one of my favourite films, 'The Secret Garden', was on TV! Its going to be interesting watching Cefn Ila's own 'Secret Garden' take shape over the next few years.

Autumn fruits,colours and textures snapped at Cefn Ila.

The old orchard at Cefn Ila has many varieties of gnarled old pear trees. Blackberries, hips and haws abound in the hedgerows.

Through the summer, into October a small herd of goats was used to keep the brambles at bay in the old orchard. They are very friendly and inquisitive.

With the goats gone for the winter, work has started on installing new gates and fencing into the orchard to improve public access.

Clearing has also begun in and around the walled garden which sits on the bank above the orchard. Lovely views from the walled garden.

The bee hives are quiet at this time of the year but come the spring they will be buzzing once more!

It's an exciting phase for Cefn Ila with a lot of ground clearance also being done along the driveway and in the arboretum allowing the majestic splendour of the many species of pine tree, many planted by Edward Trelawney in the 17th Century, to be fully revealed!

Lovely Winter skies at Cefn Ila today - Dewi and I enjoyed our walk!

Just the thing after a good Winters walk - the blackberries I picked at Cefn Ila made some wonderful Blackberry Whiskey and Gin - if you want to make some yourself next Autumn (or you have fruit in the freezer) you can find out how to do it in my blog post Potent Hedgerows.

For more information, including the history of Cefn Ila and directions on how to get there,  read my earlier blog posts:

A Boxing Day Ramble at Cefn Ila

A Summer Evening Stroll at Cefn Ila

If you would like to get involved at Cefn Ila as a volunteer contact the Woodland Trust on 08437705566

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