What Sian's reading: An enchanting book by Clare Leighton, describing a year in her garden

A beautiful book by artist and author Clare Leighton, her famous wood engravings are as enchanting as her nature stories.

Born in London in 1898, the English/American artist is best known for her wood engravings which, in this book, lovingly illustrate the essence and beauty of the seasons, and the joys and hardships of a gardener. Thanks to her work as an accomplished wood engraver, she inspired a revival of the craft in Britain and North America. 

She produced a remarkable body of work in her lifetime including over 840 wood engravings, twelve books that she both wrote and illustrated, as well as paintings, glass and ceramics. She was also commissioned to produce twelve engravings for an American illustrated edition of Wuthering Heights in the 1930s (as seen below).

Read reviews and buy your own copy here

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Rich Landscapes: 2 Welsh brothers creating beautiful & practical gardens

'We believe in a fusion between landscape and architecture. An important relationship that encourages a more rounded approach to an outdoor lifestyle, creating not only beautiful but practical spaces, inspiring people to use their gardens.'

- The Rich brothers

Brothers Harry and David Rich (professionally known as Rich Landscapes) are leading representatives of a new, younger generation of landscape gardener.

In 2013, the Welsh siblings made their first appearance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Drawing inspiration from their formative years, their extraordinary ‘Un Garreg’ show garden featured a 425 million year old sandstone. Arranged to form decorative boulders and supporting a floating timber bench, they added lengths of dry stone walling as a subtle reference to the Welsh hills. Awarded with a gold medal for their installation, the pair were then invited the following year to create a full scale show garden. Titled ‘Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden’ their show garden was granted a silver gilt medal.

This year, the Rich brothers have created a design for the Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand, which they discuss in the accompanying video. They have a very clever way of blending architectural elements within natural surroundings. Their 'Shack' element of the garden is added to close the gap separating buildings from nature:

'The shack is constructed from raw, native materials made in an honest fashion. For us it needed to compliment the garden and blend organically within the space, not to be seen as a separate element.  We wanted to create a piece of architecture that could adapt, reform and re-orientate. A translucent sculpture that, with the change of direction could become a solid form, constricting views from and into the garden.'

We are patiently waiting to see what's next for this talented pair. In the meantime, their website provides a catalogue of beautiful past projects for you to look at.

Visit their website here

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Foraging with Jade: Gorse Flower cordial

Wild Pickings is a small rural business based in West Wales and run by professional forager, Jade Mellor. 

As well as selling her seasonal foraged foods at farmers' markets and food festivals, Jade runs wild food walks and courses throughout the year. We have worked with her before at fforest and this year she will be foraging nettles and wild garlic for our Fools Feast on the 1st of April. We are delighted that Jade will also be joining us again at fforest Gather in August.

Jade has shared with us a fantastic seasonal recipe for gorse flower cordial. This time of year is the perfect time to have a go, when the gorse has come into flower most strongly and the vibrant yellow petals are at their brightest. Gorse flowers have a slightly bitter, floral flavour, with a hint of coconut. They make a delicate, refreshing cordial. Read Jade's ingredients list and method below:


As many gorse petals as you can pick! Ideally, at least a litre jugful.



Juice & zest of two oranges


Pick the gorse flowers on a dry sunny day, ideally when you can smell the coconut fragrance as this will give a more flavoursome cordial. Put the blossoms in a pan and cover with boiling water. You want to add just enough water to submerge the flowers. Leave to steep overnight. Strain through a jelly bag or piece of muslin. Add the zest and juice from the oranges. Measure out the liquid and pour back into the pan. Add 700g of sugar per litre of liquid and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into hot sterilised bottles if you want to keep it for a few months, otherwise bottle into clean containers and keep in the fridge.

Thank you for the recipe Jade! For more information about courses and workshops, visit Jade's Wild Pickings website.

some more foraging photos from fforest farm...

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Alice Holden: How to start growing your own veg

'Cooking the food you've grown and sharing it: that's an emotional and creative thing to do.'

- Alice Holden

Alice single handedly set up the fforest garden that now flourishes year round back in 2008, during the 3 years she worked for us. With strong beliefs in permaculture and organic growing, the garden was designed to provide fresh produce for our kitchen.

We first met Alice when she called into fforest with her green fingers holding a basket of homegrown strawberries to sell. It wasn't so soon after that, that she started working for us at the farm. 

She built the raised beds, put up the poly tunnel, started the composting systems, planted and set the seeds in motion. Her preliminary work in our fforest vegetable garden started what has become a thriving patch, providing a great range of different edible flowers, herbs, fruit and veg that we use for many delicious suppers, events and occasions. It really is special to know that some of what's on your plate has been sown and grown just yards away.

In an article for the Guardian, Alice provides the basic knowledge to encourage everyone to start growing their own vegetables. Just like we needed a bit of help starting our veg patch, she can give you a hand with yours. 

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Nature notes February

The crisp quiet month of February, the shortest month, when hibernation is coming to an end and spring slowly starts to herald in the promise of the new.
Little pearl white bells, lightly flecked with green are the first to ring out that change is in the air.
Breathe in deep, revive body and nourish mind while walking around the fields and ancient woodlands that surround fforest. We can see the shape of the trees without their cloak of leaves, showing off fluffy lichen and moss, like down covering their branches. New growth is beginning to bud and bulge. 

As winter begins to show signs of coming to an end, here are 10 early spring risers we can expect to find:

Snow drop   
Hazel catkin
Willow catkin
Gorse flower
Young nettle just beginning to push through
Pussy willow
Penny wort on the slate walls, the young leaves perfect for eating now too

To read more about signs of Spring buy 'Spring: An anthology for the changing seasons by Melissa Harrison for the National trust' here. 


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Swallowed by the sea

New year sand circle on #Mwnt So windy and blowy Filming with help from @milo_herbert12_

A video posted by Sian from fforest (@coldatnight) on

On spring low tides Marc Treanor draws incredible designs in the sand. We're lucky enough to be close to one of his favourite beaches to use as a canvas. Each design takes roughly three hours to complete and is drawn using the most basic of tools. We spoke to Marc to learn more about his artistic process...

1. Roughly how long does it take to complete a design?

It can take anything up to three hours to complete a design. Any longer and the tide is on its way back and all will be lost before it's completed...! 

2. Whats tools do you use in order to create your sand circles?

The tools are actually very basic and comprise of sticks, rakes and string. I create a giant drawing compass with the sticks and string so can produce very accurate circles. The sticks are used to draw the lines in the sand, the string can also be used as a straight edge if stretched out between two sticks. The rakes are then used to rough up the surface of the sand giving the contrast of light and dark. If the light is right this can be quite dramatic creating a strong black and white image. 

3. In a nutshell, what drives you to produce sand art?

I suppose the drive is my own pleasure at creating something on the sand. It is a three part process: the first is the mental work of translating the design onto the sand and this can take a lot of concentration. Second is the physical side of drawing in and raking the surface. In some cases the designs can be up to 80m wide so this can be a lot of raking! Lastly is the contemplative side. When all is complete it is nice to find a high point and sit and watch as the design is swallowed by the sea. There is something strangely moving about this part of the experience. Maybe it is a nod to our own limited time before we are absorbed back to where we sprang... 

What a delight it is to have such extraordinary artistry right on our doorstep! 



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