Category Archives: News

Garden Design Online Survey

survey-clip-art-632077We hope lots of people will come to one of our events to visit the Walled Garden site at Llanfrechfa Grange and to see and have an opportunity to discuss the design put together by our volunteer design team. If you can’t make it however, please visit our new Garden Design page  and complete our online survey (only 6 questions)!

The survey will be available until the end of September, after which we will be evaluating the feedback and deciding our next steps.

Garden Design Events – Tell Us what You Think

BDP - Concept view prod quadWe are holding 3 events over the summer to share the garden design developed so far by our volunteers. They are on:

Mon 4 July 2016 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Mon 25 July 2016 10:00 – 12:00 noon

Sat 3 Sept 2016 10:00 – 12:00 noon

All will be held in the Committee Room, Grange House, Llanfrechfa Grange, NP44 8YN.

There will be an opportunity to view the design and visit the garden itself, weather permitting. We are also doing a ‘Bring and Buy’ plant sale with proceeds going towards the running of the garden. Please bring along any spare plants (labelled please) that you would like to donate to the sale.

No need to book. Refreshments provided.

Please feel free to print off and share our flyer for the events. Flyer3 – summer 2016 design events

We have Bagged £12,000 from Tesco!!


We are delighted to announce that we are to be awarded £12,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help fund.

Tesco estimated that 8 million shoppers voted in stores across the country to help the company allocate grants from their £11.5million carrier bag charge fund, with three shortlisted project in each area due to receive either £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000.  Voting ran in stores from 27 February until 6 March – with customers using a token system to choose which project they would like to get the top award.

Voting in store

Thanks to the support we received in the Tesco stores in Abertillery, Cwmbran, Ebbw Vale and Pontypool we came first in the vote and will receive the maximum award of £12,000.  This is absolutely fantastic news and we send our thanks to everyone who promoted our project and voted for us in Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. Some supporters we know returned to their store many times during the voting week, occasionally claiming forgetfulness for the need to go back!

greenhouseThis is our first grant for the Walled Garden and we plan to use the £12,000 to provide a lovely horticultural therapy greenhouse for use by community and patient groups.  Now that the results have been announced the garden design team will work up detailed design plans for the greenhouse area and chose and build a suitable structure.  This picture is of one of several styles we are considering.

Huge thanks again to everyone who voted for us, and to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board for their continued support for the restoration of the Walled Garden at Llanfrechfa Grange.

Call for Volunteers

Well, spring is only just around the corner and we need to get the ground in the Walled Garden as clear as possible before the weeds start to germinate again.  There are still some brambles to cut back and old derelict structures to remove.  Our next session in the garden will concentrate on these tasks and is planned for Monday 29th February,  9.30 to 2.00.

Greenhouse base
Derelict greenhouse built of bricks made by the Star Brick Company, Caerleon

Supported by Thom from Keep Wales Tidy and Graham, one of our regular volunteers, we will start to salvage the bricks from the old green house base.

We want re-use these bricks to build the foundations for our Horticultural Therapy Greenhouse that will be funded from our Tesco Bags of Help award.

GetImage A quick plug here for our previous post, asking you to vote for our greenhouse at one of the Tesco stores in Torfaen or Blaenau Gwent between Saturday Feb 27th and Sunday March 6th.  The 5p carrier bag charge has funded this award and we are delighted that the Walled Garden will receive at least £8,000, and more if we get loads of votes!

If you have a few hours to spare next Monday and would like to help with this on-going clearance, please do come along.  For anyone who’s up for cleaning a few bricks, we have eye protection goggles and a selection of hammers and chisels.  If you prefer to use your own that’s fine,  and please ensure you wear good gloves and stout boots.

View from South east corner, Feb 2016
The garden viewed from the south east corner  – February 2016

For bramble clearing and gathering up other burnable waste you will need to bring secateurs, loppers and rakes.  We will pile it all up in readiness for the next bonfire.  Again good gloves and footwear are essential, and a wheel barrow if you can get one in your car will be a real asset!


If you able to come along to help please respond to this post or drop me a note at

Thank you

Jan Smith, on behalf of the Walled Garden Community

Tesco Bags of Help – our first award, and we need your help!


We are delighted to announce that the Llanfrechfa Grange Walled Garden project is to be a recipient of a Tesco Bags of Help award.  Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch an initiative which will use the money raised from the 5p bag charge to award grants to community groups or projects in numerous regions across England and Wales.  Ranging from £8,000 to £12,000 the value of each award will be decided by Tesco customers taking part in an in-store vote.

Together with two other projects in our area we have been selected to receive an award of either £8000, £10,000 or £12,000.  To receive the highest award we need to receive the highest total number of votes cast across four Tesco stores in Gwent:-

Ebbw Vale   –   Abertillery  –  Pontypool  –  Greenmeadow, Cwmbran

Voting will take place over the nine days from Saturday 27 February until Sunday 6 March 2016.  Customers shopping in any of these stores during this time will be given a voting token for every transaction made.  (Online customers and shoppers in other stores can also get a voting token in one of these four stores by showing their delivery note or receipt).

Robinsons aluminium Victorian

The award has been made to enable us to build the first greenhouse in the Walled Garden.  We plan to build a strong, roomy attractive structure for use by individuals and groups who would benefit from participating in horticultural therapy activities.

The bigger the award the better the greenhouse we will be able to provide!

So, if you are shopping in any of these four Tesco stores during the voting period please consider casting your vote for the Llanfrechfa Grange Walled Garden Horticultural Therapy Greenhouse.

Thank you.


Garden Clearance Work Continues

Photo c/o Janet Kelly.
Photo c/o Janet Kelly.

Many of you will have seen the dense bramble thickets and small trees in the walled garden a few months back, and thought how on earth is this ever going to become a garden again! Well, as part of the process to develop some design ideas, we have done a lot of work to clear the site so that we can identify whether there are any features which we want to preserve in the new layout.

In December we reported that with the help of the Health Board ground maintenance team and Monmouthshire Grounds Maintenance Services, the main undergrowth and brambles were cleared away with a mower and flail. Since then we have had a lot of support from both the Health Board and other agencies and transformation to a garden is now looking much more feasible.

Photo c/o J. Kelly.
Photo c/o J. Kelly.

On another very wet day, a small band of hardy volunteers (and a few marital conscripts) under the leadership of Thom Board from Keep Wales Tidy,  led the next phase of the clearance which was dealing with the vast quantity of rubbish. A wide range of extraneous items seem to have found their way into the garden over the years , including the obligatory shopping trolley, several bits from large horticultural machines, pieces of an industrial size gas cooker, and a few car parts (?!). We are grateful to Torfaen Council services for help disposing of it.

Hedgehog box installed.
Hedgehog box installed.

We’ve also found evidence of hedgehogs on the site, and as we’d really like to have these helpful little beasts in the final garden, we’ve installed a couple of hedgehog houses with the help of the local Hedgehog Rescue group – many thanks to Keith for bringing these over.

Shredder at work clearing the garden - Feb 2016
Shredder at work clearing the garden – Feb 2016


More recently, we’ve also had welcome help from Torfaen County Borough Council’s Countryside Team in the shape of Jonathan and a large shredder, which along with Thom and his chainsaw have enabled us to take down many of the goat willow and ash saplings. We can now get a good view of the entire garden, although there is still work to do in terms of getting the bramble roots out and removing the old greenhouse bases.

Thank you to all the volunteers, Health Board and council teams who have helped out.

Call for Volunteers

Following the initial cutting back of the dense bramble in the garden we are now looking for volunteers to help with the next phase of clearing.  Supported by Keep Wales Tidy we are planning to spend two days in the garden:- Monday 14th DecemberIMG_20151106_150529_hdr and Tuesday 15th December (these are firm dates and replace the tentative long weekends previously published) Small oak tree - south gardenThere are a number tasks we want to complete on these two days, including raking up the vegetation we have already cut back;  preparing a ‘heeling-in’ area for a number of saplings that need to be moved and given space to grow;  clearing bramble and weed roots from the base of some of the more mature trees and the old greenhouse bases;  and sorting and moving old garden equipment and other items we found during the initial clearance. We would be delighted if you are able to offer some time on one or both of these days. For further information please contact the clearance team at We look forward to seeing you!  

Walled Garden Project Timetable

View looking north across garden with hospital in background. Source: BDP
View looking north across garden with hospital in background. Source: BDP

The timetable to restore the Walled Garden at Llanfrechfa Grange will depend on when approval is granted by Welsh Government for the new Specialist and Critical Care hospital planned to open on the site in 2019/20. This is because the Walled Garden has always been part of the building plans to provide a walkway for staff between Grange House and the new hospital. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Torfaen Local Authority are committed to supporting the restoration of the garden as a community project and would like it to open to the public ahead of the hospital opening date.  The project is therefore working closely with the hospital planning team and the building contractors to make this happen. The dates below provide a guide to the schedule that the project is working to. We will provide updates to this as the project moves forward. Project timetable as at Nov 2015.001

Autumn Update

Welcome to our Autumn update on the Walled Garden project. autumn headerDesigning for the future

We recently contacted everyone on our distribution list asking if anyone who had landscape design experience or qualifications would like to get more involved in helping us translate everyone’s ideas for the Walled Garden into a design scheme. Thank you to everyone who got in touch and met with us on 26 October. We have now put together a small design team with those who took part. Over the winter the Design Team will plan a basic layout and planting scheme for the garden, e.g. the shapes and sizes of the beds, borders and lawn, and consider what facilities we need to include within the walls. We already have a number of features identified such as walkways and entrances, but we are eager to have your contributions to the plans. We will therefore be planning further events in early Spring to invite members of the public and staff from the Health Board to come along to view the layout ideas and have their say.

autumn header 2SG

Planting for the future

Some of us may find autumn windfalls messy but others enjoy this time of year when the leaves change colour and plants die back towards winter. We’d like to know what plants and shrubs give the best autumn show, and what would be appropriate for the Walled Garden. There are some plants that are at their best now and we’d welcome your suggestions. Perhaps you have a favourite that you can share with us? We hope that our garden will have areas that make the best of all seasons, and have something to enjoy all year round. Take a look outside and let us know what catches your eye over the next month or so whether it’s a tree in the park or something you enjoy in your own garden. You can post your suggestions on the comments form below or send us an email to

Clearing the undergrowth – Can you help?

Our next steps involve clearing away the undergrowth so that we can find out if there are any old features that we should preserve and include in the design layout for the future.

Jan Smith and Jane Nehaul at the end of a soggy November day clearing the garden.
Jan Smith and Jane Nehaul at the end of a soggy November day clearing the garden.

Given the derelict, overgrown and somewhat unsafe state of the garden, we felt that initial clearance should involve cutting back the bulk of the bramble and long grass, leaving a more workable environment for a more thorough clearance to follow.  The Health Board’s Facilities Directorate has kindly undertaken this initial clearance using a small tractor with flail and mower attachments.  Project team members Jane Nehaul and Jan Smith worked with a small group of  gardeners and managed to clear much of the ground area.

Visit our Gallery page to see a slideshow of before and after pictures of the garden.

The garden after clearing the brambles.
The garden after clearing the brambles.

Now that the initial clearance is done we have a much better idea of how much more needs to be done. There are however a number of things we need to put in place to assure the Health Board that we will be working safely before we can bring volunteer groups in to undertake further work in the garden.  This includes safety equipment, registering volunteers, insurance, access to toilets etc.

After the initial clearance.
After the initial clearance.


We have penciled in three consecutive long weekends when we will be looking for volunteers to give some time to help in the garden.

These are:

Friday 20th November – Sunday 22 November. Thurs 26 Nov – Sun 29 Nov Thurs 3 Dec – Sun 6 Dec


Please contact us at if you would like to get involved.

Autumn Newsletter print version

Llanfrechfa Grange Walled Garden Continues to Inspire

The Llanfrechfa Grange Walled Garden Community Project continues to attract new people to its cause through two recent public events.

Visitors browsing the Llanfrechfa Grange history stand 21 August.
Visitors browsing the Llanfrechfa Grange history stand 21 August.

On Fri 21 August 2015, volunteers joined forces with the Oxford House Industrial History Society to share the history of Llanfrechfa Grange. The event included a tour of the house, walled garden and grounds of Llanfrechfa Grange by John Venn from Oxford House. Visitors were also able to read the latest updates on the history of the site and its former owners, collated by Jan Smith from the Llanfrechfa Grange Walled Garden project and published as new history pages on the Walled Garden’s website.

Main Entrance and Lodge c.1910
Main Entrance and Lodge c.1910

The event attracted over 40 people, many of them new to the project. Visitors shown around the house learned what each room was originally used for when it was a private house and were shown the location of other buildings within the grounds including the site of a murder which took place in the 1920s.

Karen Jones and Angela Fry manning the Walled Garden stand at the Aneurin Bevan UHB AGM and Health Fair.
Karen Jones and Angela Fry manning the Walled Garden stand at the Aneurin Bevan UHB AGM and Health Fair.


The Walled Garden project also had a stand at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s AGM and Health Fair held at the Health Board’s Headquarters, St Cadoc’s Hospital, Caerleon, on 16 September 2015. Several visitors to the Health Fair stopped to ask questions about the project and expressed their support.