Hello - we are Simon and Alex and we live in a farm house in south Wales, UK, with 2.5 acres of wildlife garden. We have a large pond, a stream, the beginnings of a wildflower meadow, a cottage garden with orchard, a small area of woodland, and area that where we are planning forest and gravel gardens. We have a polytunnel where we propagate plants and grow food. We’ve both been taken up with work for many years, but are now able to devote more time to the site – the basics are there but there is still a lot to do and learn.
Our two children have left home, but they are often around – there are times when the house is quiet and not so much at other times when family and friends are here. We have a friendly springer spaniel called Bill.
Our garden is a Gwent Wildlife Trust 'Local Wildlife Site' – this means that it has been recognised as a site where the owners are managing the land with wildlife in mind. Wildlife gardening is slightly different to conventional gardening – our aim is to maintain the land so that it supports wildlife and wildlife friendly plant species. We’re fairly light touch – we don’t do a lot of ‘control’ in this garden, instead we create habitat. We don’t use chemicals, we try to work with the land and we don’t talk much about ‘pests’ and ‘weeds’. We try to avoid bare earth by growing ground cover plants and we’re ‘no-diggers’, which means that we do our best to leave soil undisturbed.
You’ll learn gardening skills and get an insight into wildlife and no-dig gardening.
Most of the money we spend on the garden goes into landscaping - we try to grow as many of our plants as we can ourselves. Over the next few years we’ll be doing a lot of seed sewing, division and cuttings depending on the time of year. We also have hedging to plant and maintain.
A few years ago, a local Meadows group spent a day here listing the local species in our meadow – we’ve started doing the same with animal and insect species but have much to learn. If you have skills in plant/animal identification, or want to learn with us, then your skills would be useful.
At different times of the year we’re preserving food from the garden (jams/marmalades/chutneys etc) and help is always appreciated. In September we pick our apples which we take to a farm in Herefordshire to be pressed for apple juice. This year we are cider making for the first time (in September/October).
Simon has a woodworking workshop where he makes woody stuff for the house and garden - windows, doors, tables etc. He works in Computer Aided Design. Alex’s background is in cultural heritage, but she spends more time now learning yoga, knitting, crochet, sewing and quilt making. We’re happy to pass on our knowledge.
Anyone who has a particular knowledge or interest in plant/animal/insect diversity is welcome. For the landscaping projects you’ll need to be physically strong, but there is always less strenuous work as well.
In 2019 we will be:
- Building a gabion basket retaining wall behind the house. This will free up space above the wall for a shaded woodland area. (February-March)
- Working on two ponds which are silting up. (February-March)
- Landscaping a steep bank and an area that will become a gravel garden (April/May/June)
- Edging around beds in the cottage garden (anytime)
- Laying a terrace and path (anytime)
- Fence repair (anytime)
These projects will need some physical strength – for the pond and the landscaping we’ll hopefully have a mechanical digger here as well (you won’t be asked to operate any machinery).
There’s always general maintenance work for which you’ll need to be physically fit. This work includes:
- Propagating plants – seed sewing, division, cuttings, potting on
- Planting, pruning, coppicing
- Hedging (winter months)
- Maintaining the grassland – we always need help raking off grass from the meadow (mid-September).
You’ll need good outdoor clothes, boots and gardening gloves, but that's about it really.
Our workawayer accommodation has a large comfortable bedroom with views to the Welsh mountains and its own bathroom. We can accommodate a single person or a couple - the room is large enough to take a single bed as well as the double bed, so we can also accommodate two singles sharing. You can camp in the garden if you want to. There’s plenty of space to park if you have transport. You’ll have access to the house and garden. You can use the washing machine which is in a separate shed.
The whole house has internet, which you are welcome to use – internet for rural Wales can be a bit cranky, but we manage to work from home, watch Netflix etc.
We’ll provide you with breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can help yourself to food and drink from the kitchen at any time. Help with cooking and clearing is appreciated. We can accommodate most dietary requirements
The atmosphere in the house is informal and there’s plenty of space in the house and garden to relax. It’s very peaceful here – we are at the end of a lane, so there’s no passing traffic.
Monmouthshire is very beautiful with villages and unspoilt country side. There’s plenty of walking, and good pubs in cycling/driving distance. If you don’t have transport we are happy to help out with lifts. Simon swims in Monmouth early every week day morning, so if you are a keen swimmer he can give you a lift.
We’re midway between the historic towns of Monmouth and Abergavenny – both have local shops and markets. In July Monmouth holds a 9 day music festival and there’s a 2 day food festival in Abergavenny in September.
If you’re traveling by train or bus, we can pick you up from Newport or Abergavenny stations.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week