Hedgehogs – when did you last see one?

Around Madog Barn in Crai we have recently been very fortunate to see a large hedgehog snuffling along the lane, enjoying slugs and beetles. We hadn’t seen one for several years, a fact echoed by several people we have spoken to from different areas.

Hedgehogs were declared a priority conservation species in 2007 following 2 major surveys which indicated that a quarter of the hedgehog population had been lost in recent years.

Why hedgehog numbers are falling is not known for certain. Reasons could be:

  • More intensive agriculture – with larger fields and the loss of hedgerows
  • Use of pesticides such as slug pellets can reduce the amount of prey available.
  • Smaller and tidier gardens , often paved over and with fencing that prevents hedgehogs moving between gardens may have reduced suitable urban habitats.
  • Tens of thousands of hedgehogs are killed by road traffic each year and road deaths . Hedgehogs can travel 1-2km in a night over home ranges of 10-50ha.

How can we help?

Find lots of useful information about hedgehogs at Hedgehog Street and more locally at Howey Hedgehog Rescue which has a great page on encouraging hedgehogs into your garden.

We’d love to hear if you have spotted a hedgehog in the Upper Usk Valley so do let us know !

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Home Sweet Home – who was Adelina Patti?

Those local to or familiar with the Upper Usk Valley will know that Adelina Patti was a very famous opera singer who made the nearby Craig Y Nos Castle her home at the turn of the last century. The castle is now a busy hotel and conference facility with Patti’s theatre, built to be Patti’s own private auditorium, much in demand for weddings. The castle has even featured in a Doctor Who episode! The castle is said to be subject to strong paranormal phenomena and haunted by the ghost  of Patti.The castle grounds now lie within the beautiful Craig Y Nos Country Park, run by Brecon Beacons National Park.

There is currently a beautifully curated little exhibition on Adelina Patti in the Game Room, an outbuilding of the castle. Look for the  sign ‘Home Sweet Home’ – Patti’s signature tune –  at the top of the car park on the castle side. Free to enter and you will hear recordings of her voice and see many mementoes of her life. Well worth a visit if you are visiting the area.

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Crai Gardens Inspire and Delight – were you there?

Eight glorious gardens in the beautiful Crai Valley recently opened their gates to visitors as part of the 2014 National Gardens Scheme  . Over 200 people arrived from far and near, following the easily recognised yellow signs to share the delights of each very different garden. Some traditional cottage gardens with favourite blooms in the herbaceous border, some contemporary with sculptures and zinc troughs as containers for a riot of colour while others excelled in growing fruit and vegetables to perfection. Visitors enjoyed the chance to ask questions of their knowledgeable hosts. Beautiful willow gates enticed visitors to explore further and exclaim at the vistas beyond set to the backdrop of the  wonderful landscape of the Upper Usk Valley.

After a happy few hours touring the gardens visitors could return to the village hall to be refreshed by a fantastic array of cakes, tea and coffee and the opportunity to purchase some plants or produce to take home as a memento of a wonderful day out.

Money was raised for 3 charities including the excellent Gardening Leave which provides horticultural therapy for armed forces veterans.

Grateful thanks go to the talented gardeners who spent many hours getting their gardens into tip top condition ready for the event. Here’s to next year’s event!

 Open Gardens 3 Open Gardens 4Click here to go to the National Gardens Scheme home page