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Monthly Archives: March 2013

  • For the love of lavender


    English lavender - fragrance, colour, wildlife value, and versatility

    English lavender – fragrance, colour,
    wildlife value, and versatility

    There are very few gardeners who fail to fall for the many charms of lavender – what is that you love about this beautiful, heavenly-scented and versatile plant?

    Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has long been recognised for its numerous uses, medicinal ones in particular.

    The Egyptians used it in the embalming process; soaking the shrouds in lavender infusions helped to preserve the mummies. The Ancient Greeks used it as a remedy for a huge number of ailments, and they were the first people to discover its sedative attributes as a cure for insomnia.

    The Romans praised it for its antiseptic qualities, and used it in bathing and washing clothes. And it has been used in battles as a dressing for wounds – in the First World War it was included in soldiers’ first aid kits.
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  • Cider anyone?!


    Yarlington cider apple

    Yarlington Mill apples are a popular choice among
    both amateur and professional cider makers

    Cider making is not only an ancient tradition in this country, but it is also an important aspect of British heritage.

    The Celts are known to have held the apple in extremely high regard, and there are numerous references in Celtic mythology praising it as a symbol of fruitfulness and immortality.

    The apple had many uses in Celtic civilization, but perhaps its best-loved application was the production of a cider made from crabapples.

    The art of cider making was improved further by the Romans, who planted well-ordered orchards of and caring for cider apple trees, and developed equipment to press the apples.

    However it was following the Norman Conquest of 1066 that caused the popularity of cider to rise significantly, and cider production spread far and wide.
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  • Recipe: An Autumn Fruit and Nut Crumble


    Ultimate fruit and nut crumble Apples, pears, blackberries, hazelnuts,
    pistachios... wow!

    Apples on the tree, nuts on the bush and brambles heaving with blackberries. Yup - Autumn is here.

    So we're going straight down the comfort route and bringing you the ultimate crumble... enjoy!

    It's loaded with fruit – apples, pears, and blackberries. And it's topped with a tasty crumble of oats, hazelnuts and pistachios. And a touch of cinnamon to warm things up.

    Ultimate fruit and nut crumble – a bit of comfort in a cold snap!
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  • Spring 2013 photo competition: Spring wildlife


    Squirrel in a tree in spring

    Aren't you just dying to get out for
    spring walks in the woods?!

    Our spring 2013 photo competition is open for entries!

    Plants are most certainly on the move, and the recent lighter evenings offer the best clues that spring is most certainly here! Creatures are on the move too, so the theme this time is:

    "Spring wildlife"

    Birds, insects, small mammals, amphibians... maybe even the household pet in the undergrowth? Snap an animal in a garden setting and see if you can make us smile!

    The closing date for entries is midnight on Thursday 30 May 2013. The three winners will be contacted via email, including their prize voucher code, by Thursday 6 June.

    As before we're giving away a total of more than £100 in vouchers to three lucky winners!
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  • A few gardening jobs for mid-March


    February gardening jobs

    Has your garden got that feeling of pent-up energy,
    ready to burst into action?

    Winter projects are being completed, most planting has probably been done, and gardens across the land are slowly waking up.

    Gardeners are rubbing their eyes too, not just at the lighter mornings, but also in disbelief at the moody swings our weather is bringing... again!

    The theme for our April photo competition is ‘Spring wildlife' and there's over £100 in vouchers to be won.So, as you return to your garden, keep your camera handy for any animal activity – birds, mammals, insects, spiders, amphibians... they all count!

    Here are a few ideas for things to do around the garden over the next couple of weeks:
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  • Beech: A national treasure!

    British beech - a national treasure

    Beech turns a wonderful copper colour in winter.

    The magnificent beech tree is quintessentially British – and not to mention elegant, flexible, award-winning, reliable, colourful...

    Maybe surprisingly, beech is classed only as native to Southern England, and then only from as recently as 4,000BC. Nevertheless, the beech is an important (and much loved) part of our ancient British woodlands.

    Whether grown as a beech tree or beech hedging, it helps support a vast array of wildlife – from the bluebells that take advantage of that brief window of warmth and sunlight before the deciduous canopy opens, to the insects, birds and larger mammals that find food and set up home in their boughs and roots. Continue reading

  • Recipe: Mussels with leeks and cider

      Mmmmmmussels...! Step aside, moules marinière, here's a fantastic mussel dish that's got it's heart in the West Country! Far from simply swapping out wine for your favourite cider, this dish brings together mussels, leeks, mustard and smoked pancetta to create a truly inspired seafood main course. Speaking of cider...

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