Messing about on the river...............

During the holiday season the river running alongside 'The Lodge' takes on a whole new life, there is always lots of laughter at the weekends with families out on the river rowing, canoeing and even paddle boarding. On the meadow there are always plenty of river cruisers and narrow boats enjoying the moorings, where they can just watch the world go by, enjoy a glass of something chilled and BBQ of course - it always smells so good when you are walking past !!!! 

It's lovely to chat to the boat owners and here about their adventures, I met a fellow crafter the other day on a beautiful narrow boat covered with stunning Bonsai trees. Hannah from the 'The Floating Tea Picker'  produces some gorgeous herbal teas, then creates lovely wooden boxes for them to go in, such a lovely idea. I feel a workshop coming on ...........................

Top tips for fresher looking flowers

Follow our six easy tips to keep your cut flowers looking fresher for longer . . . .

Cut flowers are still very much alive when you buy them and some varieties, such as tulips, can continue to grow up to 2" after they have been cut so if you don't feed them and give them fresh water they will die and quickly - just like any other living organism.

1. Change your water every two to three days . . . .

Flowers drink a lot of water!!! A large bouquet can easily empty a vase full of water within the first day. Flowers are very susceptible to bacteria, which can build up inside the vase and the stem - you will have noticed that rotting smell when flowers are left in the same water for any length of time - by changing the water and topping it up regularly you will increase their life considerably.

2. Trim the stems using sharp scissors . . . .

After flowers have been cut and taken away from their water source the stems dry out and the cells in the stem die making it very difficult for the flowers to absorb water. By re-cutting the stems you remove the damaged cells and create a surface that is able to absorb the water again - if you cut them at an angle you increase the surface area and their ability to survive longer. Always use sharp scissors to give a clean cut and that way you will avoid damaging the cells at the end of the stem which would reduce the uptake of water.

3. Keep YOUr flowers away from heat and bright lights . . . .

It is so tempting to put your flowers in a sunny spot but if you do you will reduce their life considerably, flowers in sunlight mature and open very quickly and move to the next phase of their life whereas flowers kept in a cool dark spot will last so much longer as the process has not been accelerated by heat and light.

4. Keep your flowers away from your fruit & vegetables . . . .

Ethylene is an invisible gas given off by ripening fruit & vegetables, harmless to humans but devastating to flowers. It's all down to mother nature - once a flower is pollinated it begins the process of developing fruit and seeds and they drop their petals to ensure the flower's energy is redirected into making the fruit and seeds - so if you stand your lovely flowers next to your fruit bowl you are very likely to find a table full of petals in the morning.

5. Clean your vases . . . .

Bacteria love dirty vases so don't be tempted to throw one lot of flowers away and put the next lot straight in. Wash your vase either in a dishwasher or with a few drops of bleach - the bleach won't harm the flowers but will kill unwanted bacteria.

6. Feed your flowers . . . .

Flowers love to be fed and the little sachets of food you often get with a bouquet of flowers are fab, especially if you're not great at changing the water. This is because they contain an anti bacterial to help make the flowers last longer but to be honest there's no substitute to giving them regular fresh water.

There are lots of wives tales about food for flowers and if they work for you great - keep doing it. In our opinion nothing beats regular fresh water and a splash of bleach to keep the bacteria away whatever you do we hope these tips will help you enjoy your blooms just that little bit longer ..............

 

 

Under the 'London Plane'.......

The heat is slowing us down today so we have taken some time out to sit under the giant 'London Plane' tree in the garden.  If you lay back and look upwards there is a whole lot of activity up there with an abundance of insects buzzing around. 

Our giant London Plane is reputed to be the largest outside of London with its camouflage bark and sweeping branches it really is quite stunning.  Its camouflage bark, is not only attractive but useful to, It has that pattern because the bark breaks away in large flakes in order that the tree can cleanse itself of pollutants.... very clever . 

Oh well back to work ............................

From the Kitchen.......

We have been collecting Elder-flower heads to make cordial for the summer, it's so easy to make all you need is

2½ kg white , either granulated or caster

2 unwaxed lemons

20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed

85g citric acid (available from any chemist)

Method

  1. Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.

  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.

  3. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.