From Secret to Famous…in a bit!

Great news from the Secret Garden! I have to admit that, in the past few days to many things have happened, and I just forget to update the Blog…to apologize, I am inviting you all to our OPEN DAY, next Saturday 7 July, 11am to 2pm, Secret Garden, Penrhyn Castle!

And here you are the news:

we have a few new, young, excited volunteers helping us in the Secret Garden and in the Wild in the Woods site too, our vegetables are growing well despite the massive slug attack, (beer trap coming soon), the shed has been tidied and is now ready to store all our new tools and…above all… we are on air!

Roy Noble, from BBC Radio Wales, has yesterday interviewed  our Learning Manager, Resi Tomat, about our activity in the Secret Garden! What an exciting moment!

So let’s come and join us… you could possibly get the chance to become famous too!!!

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Good Gracious!

WARNING: you might catch the geocaching bug!

Yesterday,Virginia and I went to Chirk castle to discover geocaching. And what a day! Guess the best thing was Virginia ‘complaining’ of having caught the bug!

On arrival we met with Dave who’s a local geocaching expert and volunteers for <; and this is your first port of call for background info on geocaching if you never heard about it before.

But why did we go there? Penrhyn has received support from Garmin to develop a geocaching offer on property and Chirk has a reputation for happy geocachers!

After borrowing our GPS unit and reading the instructions we proceeded to start our quest and reasonably soon found our cache – once we managed to find out which way to leave the building!

Lesson 1- GPS needs to to be moving to give a direction!

It is so that we discovered who was Good Gracious (Chirk) horse and the first official bit of learning took place! (apart from discussions with Dave and Virginia, reading instructions and general chatting…)

From there lesson 2 as we had to learn how to enter the 2 new sets of coordinates.

Then we found the second and finally the third cache.

After, over coffee, we met Carolyn., who is the master geocacher of Chirk and a bit of a fanatic ( I am sure she is ok about me saying that!) and we had a fantastic low down on caches on a NT property:

Keep it simple for people who want to start or discover geocaching – you can expand and increase difficulty afterwards

Be aware the length people go to be the first to discover the cache once set

Use it as a learning opportunity to discover less visited areas

Consider leaving a voucher or something to the first founder

Tell property staff what they are so thy don’t get thrown away by staff thinking it’s rubbish

Here some photos:




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School activity in the Secret Garden

Last Tuesday  the very first school joined us in the Secret Garden! Pupils from Ysgol y Garreg from Llanfrothen enjoyed sowing peas, transplanting broccoli and weeding our onions. We spent  a lovely morning making eco-friendly paperpots and tasting some sweet peas and radishes… but the most exciting moment was definitely when we met a massive worm!

The experience was absolutely fantastic, the pupils were interested and curious, and had a positive attitude. That’s why we look forward to the next Secret Garden School session.

While waiting , we are planning an open day, for the beginning of July.

So, if you have few hours to spare and would like to help us out in the Secret Garden, find out more! Join us the 7 July 2012, 11am-2pm – see poster!

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A little gem

We decided it was time to explore the neighbourhood at the weekend, so after some well deserved chips in Betws y Coed, we headed for Gwydir Castle.


This old house in the outskirts of Llanrwst is a pure gem. Apart from the fascination on my part of the peacocks, I liked the simplicity of the property, the gentle decadence of the place and the no frills laminate sheets and the solitude of it all.


What’s different with a National Trust property?

• cheaper entry
• only 1 member if staff
• only 4 other people whilst we were there
• simple interpretation inside the house
• ‘pure’ experience, the property is allowed to express itself

What could be better if NT did look after it?

• most likely better conservation
• tearoom!
• more informative interpretation
• education opportunities

I loved my visit to Gwydir castle, I think it is a great little gem worth exploring. Let the place embrace you and your imagination transport you back to times gone by.



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Something simple but highly effective

Just a brief Saturday visit on the blustery summit of the Great Orme.

I am rather impressed by their wildlife spotting boards – very simple but highly effective.


Highly effective – lessons learnt.

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First whispers from the Secret Garden

Just a little bit of news about our last weeks working in the Secret Garden at Penrhyn Castle. The Secret Garden is a hidden allotment reminiscent of a walled Victorian kitchen garden where we grow vegetables and herbs and where we will be doing interesting growing plants activities involving children from 5 to 11 years old.

What we have on now is a green house completely full of broccoli, artichokes, parsil, courgettes, beetrots and peas who only need to be transplanted on our soft beds to start growing strong and finally give us delicious fruits to enrich our meals!

In the last weeks we worked hard on removing weeds, preparing beds for seeding and transplanting and also on seeding in plots the green house and to make the site safe for the visiting group after years of neglect.

But we have to hurry up, because everything must be perfecty organized by the 12 June…our first day activity with schools in the Secret Garden!

So I’ll keep you updated of our progress and I hope this project will be interesting and really useful for both children and their family..and, if you don’t know what to do in your free time, join us as a volunteervegetables need you! 



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Hi everybody,

I’m Virginia, I’m an ECTARC placement here at Penrhyn Castle and I work on the Secret Garden learning programme. I am from Florence, Italy, where I’ve done a master in Plant Diseases and have worked many hours teaching children about the environment.

I’ m going to keep you informed more or less weekly, about what is happening in the Secret Garden, which vegetables we are growing,  seeding and harvesting. And because I am not the greatest expert in horticolture, when I won’t be sure about what to do..I will maybe ask you for advice!

Uumh…and, obviously, I hope you will forgive me for my Englishtaliano 😛


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