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Archive for July, 2014

Buddleia

By our back door we have a lovely big Buddleia plant which is now in full flower, the Insects, Bees and Butterflies love it, it looks spectacular with its covering of long purple flower spikes. The common name for the Buddleia is the Butterfly Bush which is quite evident when you look at it on a warm, sunny day it is a Butterfly magnet providing an abundant supply of nectar, it is definitely a must have plant in your garden if you love Butterflies, each flower spike is not just a single flower but is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers each one rich in nectar.

Buddleias are very easy to grow from seed and they will self-seed very easily, this plant was a seedling from my allotment which was growing in the onion bed, there are quite a few more growing there again this year which I will pot up and plant in my garden or sunny corner of my allotment, give to friends or to Thomas’s School for their wild garden.

This hot, sunny weather is wonderful for butterflies and will give numbers a real boost especially after the wet summer of 2012 which was the worst on record for Butterflies, but how do we know that 2012 was the worst on record? Every year, throughout the year there are many surveys to monitor butterfly numbers, you can take part in one of the worlds biggest surveys of Butterflies which starts this Saturday 19th July until Sunday 10th August, it is called The Big Butterfly Count. The Big Butterfly count is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation who have raised awareness of the drastic decline in butterflies and moths, and created widespread acceptance that action needs to be taken to protect these unique and beautiful creatures.

What you need to do

Count butterflies for 15 minutes preferably on a sunny day recording the maximum number of each species that you see at a single time and submit your sightings online before the end of August. You can submit separate sightings for different dates and places: parks, school grounds, gardens, fields and forests. This is a great family activity that you can do during the summer holidays, whilst you are away on holiday or as a class activity at school if you have time before the end of term. Submit your sightings online at before the end of August 2014.

For more information have a look at the Big Butterfly Count website, there is also a handy Butterfly Chart to download and print which will  help you to identify and record the species you spot.

Buddleia and Small Tortoiseshell

Buddleia not only attracts Butterflies and insects during the day, at night moths feast on the fragrant nectar rich flowers, so if you have space in your garden plant a Buddleia they are easy to grow, need very little attention and look stunning especially covered in Butterflies, if you keep removing the dead flowers this will encourage new ones, extending the flowering period and providing food for insects well into Autumn.

If you want to know more about attracting Butterflies to your garden click here.

Love your environment

Gill

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School walk 1

I love being outdoors, there is nothing better than going for a walk, it is a great way to relax and get fit whilst being surrounded by birds, animals, insects, flowers, trees and the varied and unique landscapes that make up our fantastic countryside, it really makes you appreciate how wonderful nature is.

Next week is National Countryside Week this is an annual awareness campaign by the Princes Countryside Fund (who give grants to projects that help support the people who care for the countryside) to celebrate the British countryside and the people who live and work in our rural areas, they are encouraging everyone to get together with their family, friends or colleagues and take a walk in the countryside between Mon 14th – Sunday 20th July.

School Walk 2

If you go on a walk be prepared and plan ahead, check the weather forecast and take appropriate footwear, clothing and accessories, bring food, plenty of drinks and a first aid kit, if you are exploring somewhere new take a map, mobile phones are wonderful but only if you can get a signal and most of all don’t forget to follow

The Countryside Code

Respect   –  Protect  –  Enjoy

Respect other people

  • Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
  • Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available

Protect the natural environment

  • Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under effective control

Enjoy the outdoors

  • Plan ahead and be prepared
  • Follow advice and local signs

You may see some of these signs on your walk, do you know what they mean?

FootpathFootpath – open to walkers only, waymarked with a yellow arrow.

 

 

 

BridlewayBridleway – open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists, waymarked with a blue arrow.

 

 

Restricted bywayRestricted byway – open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and horse-drawn vehicles, waymarked with a plum coloured arrow.

 

 

Byway open to all trafficByway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) – open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles, waymarked with a red arrow.

 

National Trail acornNational Trail Acorn – identifies 15 long distance routes in England and Wales. All are open for walking and some trails are also suitable for cyclists, horse-riders and people with limited mobility.

 

The most important thing is to get out there and have fun you don’t need to walk for miles, a walk around your local park can be just as enjoyable, remember to take your camera or your binoculars you never know what you may see.

Mucky Wellies

Happy Walking

Gill

 

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I can’t believe what glorious weather we are having, scorching hot days and sultry evenings, it is wonderful and a real tonic. The soft fruit on the allotment is ripening fast, I will have to keep my eye on it and the opportunist birds too, netting will keep them off and allow me to get there first. I make Jams and freeze a lot of my fruit to use in pies and crumbles later on when fresh fruit is not available or expensive to buy.

Strawberries 2

Strawberries have done exceptionally well this year, as it’s hot I thought it would be nice to make something cooling with my bumper crop so I delved into my recipe books and found the perfect solution –

Strawberry Sorbet

  • 450g Strawberries hulled and chopped
  • 175g Granulated Sugar
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • 450ml water
  • 1 egg white
  • 25g Caster Sugar
  1. Puree the prepared Strawberries in a food processor
  2. Put 150ml water and the granulated sugar in a bowl and warm gently until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 300ml water, lemon juice and the pureed Strawberries, mix well.
  4. Pour into a freezer container and chill until cold.
  5. Freeze for 1 hour.
  6. Beat the egg white until stiff then add the caster sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny.
  7. Place your fruit mixture in a chilled bowl and whisk until smooth.
  8. Gently fold in the beaten egg white then return to the freezer container and freeze for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove from the freezer, whisk again then return back to the freezer container and freeze for 90 – 120 minutes or until firm.

This is a very healthy alternative to ice cream why not serve it up whilst watching Wimbledon this week.

Enjoy

Gill

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