The Natural Building Centre

Y Ganolfan Adeiladu Naturiol.

Welsh Historic Gardens Trust Award

We are very grateful to have been offered support from the WHGT to create two knot gardens either side of the central path in the sloping lawns at the front of Plas Tirion. The design will be based upon the 1626 plaster overmantle in one of the downstairs rooms of the house, the strap work design lends itself perfectly to a knot garden.  The knots will be planted in an authentic Tudor fashion, with dwarf box hedges and five compartments for planting.  Over the last year we have been gradually repairing sections of the walled garden and developing the lower slope as a native wildflower meadow.  The area enclosed by these walls is being developed as an authentic Tudor garden using only plants that would have been available when the house was built.

The 1498 hall house.

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We have here at Plas Tirion an even older house than the main Elizabethan hall.  It’s an oak cruck framed hall house dendro dated three years ago by the Discovering Old Welsh Houses group to 1498.  It may have fallen out of residential use when the main house was built, possibly acting as a domestic service building.  It has been adapted and altered over the years, with a cow Byrne and pigsty built alongside it in the C19th, but the main body of the house although now stone clad and truncated still has many early features, including the original oak cruck frame.  A local archaeological group has been excavating the floor and have made some interesting discoveries including a William and Mary coin from 1695 and the remains of an C18th grain drying kiln.  This fits in with a reference in an old letter from the 1920’s which mentions the Old Brewhouse.  The archaeological work has been rained off this winter but we hope to get back out there this month. Plans for the full restoration for the building are being drawn up, and in future it will become accommodation for our courses. When work gets underway later this year, we will be using the building as a training aid for this year’s courses, providing hands on experience of traditional building methods.

 

 

Old maps and new plans.

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The illustration is inspiration for our own garden of similar age and proportion. In between showers over the bank holiday, we carried on the long job of digging out the hogweed and raking out the stones. Gerallt delivered the metal arch he made us for training the cordon apple trees, and the crab apple avenue we planted earlier in the year is starting to come into flower.  Next year we will plant the pleached pear hedge that will run along either side of the apple arch. We are growing native wild flowers from seed to add to the meadow in the lower part and a gift of some cobbles from a friends barn will be laid as a path.  This is the first year of our work to recreate the gardens which we will continue to develop in following years – making progress with our usual combination of swaps, labour and being creative to stretch a limited budget.image image image

 

Images from the Hedgerow Basketmaking Course

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We took advantage of an interlude in the very wet and windy weather to collect a surprising variety of material for our baskets. The finished baskets, all very different, used honeysuckle, larch, ivy, birch, ivy and broom.