Tag Archives: flowers

A visit to the Wildflower Artisan Market in Knowsley

We’ve visited the National Wildflower Centre at Knowsley several times, but we’ve always managed to miss the Artisan Market that is on the 4th Sunday of every month. Today, we were lucky enough to have a day free and the weather was half decent, so off we trotted.

The stalls were mostly in the courtyard, with a few dotted around outside. There was a campervan with a cupcake stall attached, a couple of stalls dedicated to treats for your dog, and a lovely flower stall. However, we decided to do a circuit of the stalls before buying anything.

Which worked well for approximately 30 seconds, when we discovered this stall:

olives and garlic on artisan food stall

Garlic, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, vine leaves…

Olives, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese on artisan food stall

Seriously, how could we not buy something? And the stall owner was so lovely, we got to try the different olives before buying. YUM.

We wandered dangerously close to a pie stall but got back on track, and saw some gorgeous pictures and vases on a stall that creates cyanotype art – the shop is called The Way To Blue.

And then we found the stall which sells ‘postcode honey’ – all made from pollen from flowers within a few miles of the  Wildflower Centre. Again, we tried a few different types, and it was so interesting to taste the differences which come from the different pollens. And it all comes highly recommended by the bees:

Bees on jar of honey

Several bees on jar of honey

I got chatting to a very nice lady who asked if I kept bees (sadly, I do not, although I did get one to sit on the wooden spatula I’d used to taste some honey for a minute or two), and who did mention that it’s possible to rent hives or if you don’t have space, to put them with other hives in someone else’s space. INteresting).

Next to that was another stall of enticing jars – this time, jams and chutneys from The Talking Bee. What a hard life I do lead! 😉

Jars of jam and chutney on artisan food stall

I tried the beetroot chutney (deliciously earthy and not too sweet) and the Husbinator went for the Scotch Bonnet chilli jam – which was obviously quite spicy.

We discovered the bread stall far too late in the day, but we did find out that they run bread-making courses, which might be something for the next few months.

Loaf of artisan bread

And then back to the flower stall we spotted on the way in, to buy some of these gorgeous scented violas.

Scented violas in sunlight

 And as if all that wasn’t enough, look what we spotted on the way out:

Small white fungi in woodland

Yes, it is THAT time of year again. SO excited!

Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery

I found out about the Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery via the BBC gardening website and yesterday we decided to visit, as the gardens are only a 20 minute drive away. It was a little overcast when we arrived, but next to the carpark was a gorgeous meadow of wildflowers, and a few rabbits. 🙂

We had a wander round looking at all the plants in the nursery, I made a few notes of which ones I *needed* to buy, then after a cup of tea, we went to look around the gardens.

Right by the entrance was a hen house, with a very pretty but stern looking guardian in the doorway.

Chicken in doorway of hen house

We didn’t realise quite how large the gardens would be, as we walked through a small archway and round alongside a house and conservatory. A lot of the plants growing in the garden were available to buy in the nursery, so as we wandered about, we were looking at name tags and trying to remember which plants to look for later on. There were just too many though – the gardens were just packed with gorgeous plants.

We spent a good hour or so walking round, and once the sun came out, we didn’t really want to move. 

I would definitely recommend a visit, and there’s also a woodland walk nearby, so you could make a day of it.

On the Snowdrop Trail at Lytham Hall

Considering how bad the weather has been recently, we were fully expecting our coach trip to Lytham Hall to be a wash out. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see not only a distinct lack of rain but even patches of blue sky. It took us a good couple of hours to bimble along on the coach, collecting people from various stop off points, so I was quite pleased to finally arrive so we could go in search of a cuppa. Once we’d revived ourselves with a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake, we set off on the snowdrop trail. Fortunately, the aforementioned bad weather hadn’t damaged the flowers too much. There were still one or two bravely standing. 😉

As snowdrops are small, dainty flowers, getting photos of them meant having to bend and crouch into all manner of positions. I soldiered on bravely, determined to find a perfect snowdrop to photograph. Snowdrops seem to be quite sociable little flowers though, they hang around in groups a lot.

Sigh. The sunlight was lovely and warm, it felt almost Springlike. We walked round admiring the scenery for ages, and then, I found it. The lone (ish) snowdrop.

And of course, once I’d found that one, another one was easy to find.

I think this might be my favourite photo. Yeah yeah, we’re supposed to avoid lens glare and all that, but I think it works OK.

And just to prove that the weather was good, here’s the obligatory arty architecture shot.

Didn’t use any filters, the sky really was that colour. More of that I think, please.

We headed back to the coach, and then on to a garden centre on the way home for a potter about, and to meet with a cat called Peggy, who was taken in by the staff and who now rules the place (as cats do). Then another longish coach journey home again, possibly with a bit of snoozing involved. *ahem*

Not the best quality pic, but I took it with my phone.

All in all, a lovely day out. 🙂

Help save our bees!

I am currently obsessed with bees. Especially bumble bees, with their fluffy bottoms.

 Bumblebee in my garden last year

I have always been quite fond of them, but then I watched Great British Food Revival with Ainsley Harriott, and he was championing honey, and of course, bees. And the programme showed someone who kept bees on the roof of their flat. An actual hive!

Of course, being the rational realist that I am, I didn’t immediately scour the internet to find out about bee-keeping. *ahem*

Anyway, bees are fascinating creatures, but many species are dying out (find out more about this on The Bumblebee Conservation Trust website). And even if we can’t all keep bees in our gardens (curse you, tiny suburban garden!), we can do something to help. Even if you only have a window box, or balcony, you can grow a pot or two of plants which will attract bees. Check out these pretties…

Borage – beautiful blue, slightly alien-looking flower which is edible and are lovely floating in summer drinks like Pimms.

Borage flower – photo by PurpleGecko on Flickr
Pale pink geranium flowers – pretty, dainty, and beloved by bees:
Bloody Geranium – photo by Marylise Doctrinal on Flickr

Rosemary – yummy in food, and yummy to bees. Actually, quite a few herbs are popular with bees (e.g. sage, mint and thyme), so if you like to cook, grow some herbs in your garden and help bees as well.

Rosemary flowers – photo by m750 on Flickr

Oriental poppy. I’m a big fan of poppies, especially the bright red ones growing in fields and by the side of the road. But these peach ones are gorgeous too.

Oriental poppy – photo by beautifulcataya on Flickr
You can also find a list of ways you can help bees on the Help Save Bees site.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon…

I was just pottering about on the internet, looking for ideas for a quick craft project which a) doesn’t involve too much effort, b) doesn’t involve any warm fabrics or materials and c) doesn’t involve putting the oven on (I still love you, shrink plastic *sniff*). And I found this tutorial, which shows you how to make really cute paper flowers. And all that was needed was a bit of paper, scissors and some glue. So, here’s what I made:

I’ve just realised that I have the scrapbook paper upside down. 😀 The blue paper is from an envelope from the Tax office, which makes the title of this post doubly clever. It also pleases me to have got some use out of the letter (seeing as my tax rebate this year was almost invisible to the naked eye – sigh).
However, although I do like ‘Sunny Afternoon’, like most sane people, I still think the Beatles knock the Kinks into a cocked hat, so here is my tax-related song for you to enjoy: