Higher Trenedden, Peakswater, near Pelynt

We visited Judy and Kevin Channer at Higher Trenedden in July on a fine and sunny afternoon. We assembled on the patio at the back of the house and Kevin explained that they had moved into the property in 2005 to find they had taken on a bit of a garden challenge. The land falls away from the house and the upper garden was an established cottage garden but had become overgrown and invaded by weeds. A big clear out was necessary so weeding and new planting, to replace old tired plants, began in earnest. The structure has been retained with a large lawn below the patio and herbaceous borders. Kevin guided us through this area and into what used to be an old orchard. Originally this had been almost impossible to enter during the summer when brambles and nettles took over. After more time spent clearing this out in the autumn of 2006, electricity cables were buried, paths made and an arboretum was planted. The trees are now looking well established. On the east side of the orchard, there was a productive vegetable garden and Kevin has developed this area and continues to grow vegetables and soft fruit.

In 2009 further land beyond the arboretum was acquired. This comprised a meadow, which had been used for years for the grazing of cattle, and an adjacent area of unimproved land which Kevin named the ‘wetland’.

The meadow itself was also damp, with several streams running alongside, so a large pond was dug in the winter of 2009. The following spring, the meadow was sown with wildflowers and grasses, and a few water loving plants were set around the pond. A water lily is now growing well, as are lots more plants which have arrived by themselves and are colonising the pond area naturally.

A boardwalk was built so that a route can be taken around the pond and into the ‘wetland’ even during the wettest spells of weather.

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Kevin and Judy are very enthusiastic about attracting wild life at Higher Trenedden. A pair of Canada geese has flown in to mate for the past three years. This year they have successfully reared two out of four goslings that hatched. Frogs have taken residence in the pond, and water boatmen, common darter┬ádragonflies and common blue damselflies as well as emperor dragonflies and chasers are all to be seen. It is rumoured that newts used to be seen in the streams but as yet they haven’t been spotted in the pond. Badgers, deer and foxes are regular visitors to the wilder parts of the garden.

Beyond the pond meadow we entered the ‘wetland’. This is a large area of rising ground with a large summerhouse as the distant focal point. Everyone was amazed at the variety and number of wildflowers which had established here: a really colourful sight on a warm July afternoon. The lush growth was attracting swarms of insects and beautiful and rare butterflies. What a treat and privilege to see such a wild and natural planting.

In our own time we made our way back to the patio and Judy served a delicious tea in the conservatory. Many thanks Kevin and Judy for a wonderful summer’s afternoon in a delightful setting.

Jean Marcus – July 2014