Ashling's primary goal is to manage and restore 40 acres of neglected woodland in West Wales.
The business is run by Keith Burdett and Mandie Younger, who seek to make use of forest
resources to create sustainable products. A half acre garden provides many of the family's
vegetables and provides a base for horticultural projects. Through photography,
we aim to show the beauty and intricacy of the natural world, particularly at our Tir Sisial woodland.
Currently, our main products are wooden bowls, carved from local hardwoods,
Tea Tree Salve produced from home grown Tea tree plants and photographic imagery.
Other woodland products such as firewood, rustic conifer or
hardwood poles, Hazel pea sticks and Oak plant labels are available seasonally
The woodland at Tir Sisial lies on two sides of a steep river valley in West Wales. Running east-west,
the valley has two distinctly differing sides, one baked by the sun and exposed to the harsh prevailing wind,
one sheltered and shady, bitterly cold in winter. In the base of the valley runs the River Wyre,
bordered by rough pasture and our garden.
The woodland, much of it designated an Ancient Woodland Site, was partially felled and replanted
by the Forestry Commission in the 1950's, leaving a matrix of conifer and broadleaved plantations
and some ancient oaks underplanted with shade loving Western Hemlock, an American conifer.
These plantations were not maintained until the woodland entered private ownership in the 1980's.
When we bought Tir Sisial in 1997, a lot of the conifers had been removed. These areas were
starting to regenerate with native broadleaved trees, and since then we have planted thousands more.
Over time, a semi-natural ancient woodland will be restored, wildlife will increase and hopefully
the woodland will become more productive in terms of timber and other resources.
Update March 2010:
With the start of a Better Woods for Wales management plan, a new wave of
regenerative work is beginning in the woodland. The winter of 09/10 has seen the felling of
approx 500 cubic meters of Western Hemlock over 9 acres of the woodland. This area contains
a good cover of mature Oak which will now begin it's progression into an uneven aged woodland
with the ground flora and shrub layer that the Hemlock shaded out.
Natural regeneration growing on land cleared of Western Hemlock 13+ years ago has been respaced
over the last year and now forms a beautiful young woodland with many Oaks growing among the
Other work planned over the following years includes the further removal of Western Hemlock;
further thinning and the opening of groups in the Corsican Pine plantations; measures to combat
fly tipping along the Cwm Wyre road; expansion of the Sweet Chestnut coppice; bringing neglected
Oak coppice back into a rotational harvesting cycle for fencing and fuelwood production and provision
of public access routes on both sides of the valley.
From 1998- 2005, Mandie grew a huge range of culinary and medicinal herb plants at Tir Sisial, which Keith then sold
at farmers markets in Aberystwyth and Dolgellau, at Machynlleth market, at shows and fairs across Ceredigion
and at the Centre for Alternative Technology. With up to a hundred different varieties of herbs and cottage garden plants,
Ashling developed a serious reputation for quality and a sustainable gardening philosophy drawing on Permaculture,
Herbalism, the Organic movement and Wildlife Conservation. Heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables were added
to the range of products and an emphasis was always placed on plants which attract native insects and other wildlife.
In 2003, Ceredigion Council refused planning permission for the family to continue living on site at Tir Sisial.
Two years later, the costs of commuting to manage the sensitive herb plants had become too great and the enterprise ended.
Now, the garden continues to thrive. A mix of vegetable and herb plots, combined with fruit trees and bushes, native wildflowers
and insect attracting plants- the garden provides healthy, tasty food in addition to a rich environment for wildlife.
The polytunnel which once provided shelter for the many herb plants now houses the Tea Tree used for the production of
Tea Tree Salve.
Keith Burdett and Mandie Younger