Today is raining, but yesterday was fine, how blessed we were! Despite the cold wind 21 people helped plant 300 hundred  cotton grass plugs grown by Anne Small from seed collected in 2011. They also managed to plant several hundred more cuttings taken from the hill and lay another 60 metres of wool. Two of the Black Mountain Graziers brought their ponies along to carry loads of wool up onto the site and some great cakes were eaten!

As soon as I have photos I will post them up but in the meantime I will be in Brecon at the Art Fair held in St. Mary’s Church on Friday and Saturday. ON Saturday I will be making wool sausages so do come along and help or just to enjoy the beautiful exhibition ( details on poster) Art Fair 2012 .



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4 Responses to Blessed

  1. For those who are interested, some information on uses of Cotton Grass: Eriophorum angustifolium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
    It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

    Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
    It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

    Pond; Bog Garden;
    Edible Uses
    Edible Parts: Root; Stem.
    Edible Uses:

    Young stem bases – raw or cooked[172]. Usually cooked and eaten with oil[257]. Root – raw or cooked[257]. The blackish covering should be removed[172].

    Medicinal Uses

    Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


    The leaves and roots are considerably astringent and have been used in the past as a treatment for diarrhoea[4]. Some native North American Indian tribes would eat the stems raw in order to restore good health to people in generally poor health[257].

    Other Uses
    Paper; Stuffing; Tinder; Weaving; Wick.

    The cottony seed hairs are used to make candle wicks[4, 13, 100, 172]. They are also used for stuffing pillows[4, 74, 141], paper making etc and as a tinder[74]. Experiments have been made in using the hairs as a cotton substitute, but they are more brittle than cotton and do not bear twisting so well[4]. The dried leaves and stems have been woven into soft mats or covers[257].

    Cultivation details
    Requires boggy conditions or a pond margin and an acid soil[1, 162]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Quite invasive.

    Seed – sow in situ in spring in a moist soil in light shade. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 6 weeks at 15°c[200]. If the seed is in short supply it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. Place the pots in a try of water to keep the compost moist. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be replanted direct into their permanent positions

    [1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
    Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

    [4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
    Not so modern (1930’s?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.

    [13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
    Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.

    [74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
    An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.

    [100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe – A Field Guide.
    An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.

    [141]Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK.
    Some suggested alternative commercial crops for Britain. Readable. Produced by a University study group.

    [162]Grounds. R. Ornamental Grasses.
    Cultivation details of many of the grasses and bamboos. Well illustrated.

    [172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants – Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
    A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.

    [200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
    Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

    [257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
    Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.

    • caerhendre says:

      This is fascinating stuff Simon, thank you! Hopefully on Pen Trumau we might one day have such a healthy crop that it might hold possibility for a cotton grass harvest, however it might take some persuading the Countryside Council for Wales. The mountain is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and We have to get permission to just to collect the seed in order to grow it and replant, nevertheless this information brings not just interest but important growing tips.
      On Sunday we took cuttings up on the hill and planted them immediately so let’s hope they grow as well as last year.

      • Simon Mackenzie-Mason says:

        The more I read into peat and its wonderful properties and the depletion of peat especially in horticulture some action is needed. So from the end of December 2012 The Gourmet Gardener in all future newly grown pots for veg, trees, shrubs, fruit will be using a 100% peat free compost. We have to start somewhere. There is still a little more experimenting with fruits such as cranberries and blueberries but its looking good.

  2. caerhendre says:

    Simon a great start to 2013! Sing it out to everyone. I was once told how to eat an elephant ( as if I would) but all these tiny changes do add up and as a grower you will constantly be reminded of the power of small seeds.

    Look forward to catching up with you soon.


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