Lancashire’s natural sand castles
Painting the mysterious beauty of hares Sapphires of the woodland floor
Spring garden | Pasque flowers | Lamb dishes | Bunny cakes | Saltaire | Wildlife artist | Sand dunes | Skylarks | Wicken Fen | Winchester
Issue 30 | Spring 2016 | £4.25
LandScape - Life at nature’s pace
Spring 2016 £4.25
Life at nature’s pace
The plants thrive in rock gardens, preferring full sun and well-drained soil.
WIND FLOWER The appealing displays of Pulsatilla vulgaris’ small colourful flowers are worth the special care this delicate plant needs
Petals of pure white grace P. vulgaris ‘Alba’.
Long-lived in the garden, P. vulgaris are now rare in the wild.
A PLACE TO POT Recycled wooden pallets are easily transformed into a useful garden workspace
RAISED WORK SURFACE with plenty of storage space helps make garden tasks such as planting seeds and potting plants on easier. This practical and inexpensive potting table and shelves are built from wooden pallets. Cubby holes are created by removing slats from the pallets. These can be used for storing seedlings, plant pots and other garden paraphernalia. Drawers and wire containers keep seed packets, balls of twine and small garden tools tidy. In deeper spaces, large pots and garden boots can be housed. More garden tools can be hung from old door handles drilled to the sides. As the weather warms up, house plants can be brought out and displayed. Pallets are bought online or from builders merchants and garden centres. Each pallet should be carefully inspected before use for large splinters or protruding nails. These should be sanded down and removed before construction begins. Treating the wood with preservative will help it survive bad weather if it is left out all year round. ›
• Four wooden pallets with solid side slats, all a similar size and design • Measuring tape and pencil • Jigsaw or handsaw • Small crowbar • Nails and hammer • Electric planer • Paint and brush • Tin snips • Old, clean food tin • Screws and screwdriver • Hooks and drawer handles (optional)
BUILDING THE TABLE 1.
Step 2: Seven of the eight pallet halves are stacked on top of each other. Marks are made to indicate where slats are to be cut out to form shelves or cubby holes. Before the stack is dismantled, the side slats are numbered to enable them to be restacked correctly. The stack is dismantled and the marked slats cut out. Removing more slats enables the creation of deeper or taller shelves. Vertical slats and the very top and bottom horizontal slats are left in place as these give the workstation strength and rigidity. When all the desired slats have been removed, six of the pallet halves are restacked in order.
Step 1: The pallets are checked to make sure they are not rotten. Any with damage or weak spots are discarded. To give the workstation a side wall, pallets which have solid side slats, and openings at the front and rear only are used. With the slats lying horizontally each pallet is measured and the centre point from front to back marked. Using a saw, the pallets are cut in halfway widthways. 41
CHEERFUL BAKES The traditional Easter bunny is the inspiration behind these seasonal bakes
Bunny ear cupcakes
1 tbsp milk
200g butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla paste
200g caster sugar
12 large white marshmallows
50g pink sprinkles
200g self-raising flour
150ml double cream
1 tsp baking powder
300g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180째C/gas mark 4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar with the back of a wooden spoon until fluffy and soft. Beat in the eggs, one by one, then sift the flour and fold it in. Stir in the baking powder, milk and vanilla paste. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with large cupcake cases and divide the mixture between them. Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and firm. Allow to cool on a wire rack. To make the ears, using scissors, snip
each marshmallow in half diagonally in one smooth cut. Place the pink sprinkles in a pestle and mortar and grind until fine. Dab the diagonal faces of the marshmallows into the sprinkles to cover. Set aside. Place the cream in a large bowl and whip until firm, then mix in the icing sugar. Spread a heaped tablespoon of the icing on each cake. Shape using a flat knife or small spatula. Top each with two of the marshmallow ears. Serve.
Chocolate cake Serves 30
300g caster sugar
100g cocoa powder
600ml extra thick double cream
400g 85% cocoa solids cooking chocolate
300g icing sugar
flower to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180째C/gas mark 4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Whisk the yolks together with an electric whisk, until creamy and fluffy. Whisk in the sugar for 1 min. Sieve the cocoa gradually into the mixture, mixing it in thoroughly. Clean the whisk thoroughly and sterilise it in a jug of boiling water for 1 min. Whisk the egg whites for 3 mins, until standing in soft peaks. Add a third of the whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in. Repeat until all the egg whites are folded in. Pour the mixture into two 30 x 23cm trays lined with parchment. Bake for 20 mins until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool, then remove from the trays to cool completely on wire racks. Trim a piece of baking paper so it is the same size as one of the baking trays. Draw the outline of a rabbit using the picture as a guide. Cut it out in three parts: the ear, the head and body, and the foot. When the cakes are cool, place the baking paper templates on
the cakes and cut out the shapes from each cake with a sharp knife. To make the filling, whip the cream in a large mixing bowl for 1 min. Fold in the icing sugar. Place the bottom set of cake pieces on a board. Fix one set of parts together with the filling. Spread filling over the entire bottom layer of cake, leaving a small amount for the tail and nose. Layer the other cake pieces on top, ensuring there are no gaps between the parts. Chill the remaining filling. To make the icing, break the cooking chocolate into small pieces and place them in a glass bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Add the butter to the bowl and stir until it melts and becomes smooth. Pour over the rabbit, smoothing with a spatula to cover the whole cake and wiping away any drips. Take a small blob of filling and place on the nose, then spread out to create whiskers. Shape the reserved filling into a ball with two spoons. Fix onto the body as a tail. Add a flower as the eye. Chill the cake until the icing is hard.
Easter tarts Makes 12
1 egg yolk
175g chilled butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
115ml double cream
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
300g 85% cocoa solids cooking chocolate icing sugar, to dust
60g caster sugar In a large bowl, combine the butter with the flour and sugar, then rub the butter into the dry ingredients to make fine crumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and 2 tbsp of ice-cold water and bring together with a spoon. Knead until the pastry comes together into a smooth dough. Cover with cling film and chill for 20 mins. To make the chocolate ganache filling, heat the cream in a saucepan until lukewarm. When it is just about to simmer, break in the cooking chocolate. Keep on a very low simmer for approximately 2 mins, stirring until the chocolate melts and the mixture thickens. Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 200째C/gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Cut out 12 circles with a pastry cutter to line a 12-hole cupcake tray. Bring the off-cuts together and roll out. Cut out 12 slightly smaller lids for the tarts, dusted with more flour if necessary. Stamp out a bunny shape on each of the lids with a small cutter, or cut out by hand with a sharp knife. Grease the tray with butter, then line with the pastry bottoms. Fill the tarts with a heaped teaspoon of the ganache then fit the pastry tops. Press down gently on the edges to fix them. Bake for 20 mins until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar. Cover the bunny shapes with the back of a teaspoon to keep the chocolate ganache from being covered in icing sugar. Serve.
SHEPHERD’S HAVEN Once a safe place for newborn, orphaned lambs, a lovingly restored shepherd’s hut now provides cherished sanctuary for one man and his dog
UCKED WITHIN A quiet Norfolk garden, the curved iron roof and silver-grey weathered wooden walls of a traditional shepherd’s hut contrast gently with the greenery of spring. Chickens and ducks shelter beneath it, while homemade preserves are stored inside it. Today, it is a quiet, peaceful place for owner Ian McDonald and his wife, Carol. In its heyday in the late 19th century, however, it would have provided much needed shelter for a working shepherd. Towed out to the fields in early spring by horses, the hut was the solitary shepherd’s home throughout the lambing season. There were few home comforts. Measuring 9ft high, by 7ft 6in wide and 12ft 6in long (2.75 x 2.3 x 3.8m) it was big enough to house its single occupant and one or two lambs. There would have been a rudimentary wooden bed but no mattress, a stove, storage box for medicine and food, and possibly a cage for orphan lambs. This was often placed under the bed, allowing the shepherd and lambs to share body warmth on cold nights. Ian and his family have owned the hut since 2003. It was in a derelict state when he and Carol first saw it at School Farm in their village of Barford, Norfolk. Rotting away, trees were growing out of the roof. The hut’s neglected state and obvious need for care instantly attracted them. “I just saw the hut and thought it was interesting,” says Carol. History in the making Using a forklift truck and a trailer, they transported the hut back to their house on the other side of the village. “Unfortunately
The hut is reclad in larch planks, which catch the light and shimmer gold in the sunshine.
the front axle fell off when we lifted it up as the wood was so rotten,” says Ian. Undeterred, he set about a thorough restoration. At the same time he started research to find out more about shepherd’s huts and their history. Several months were spent carefully taking the crumbling structure apart, recording every detail. “I measured and drew everything.” This was done so he would know exactly how to put it back together correctly. He also visited the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse rural history museum in nearby Dereham. They had two huts, and also gave him the number of a woman who had researched the subject. She put him in touch with former shepherd and shepherd’s hut enthusiast, Gerald Beavis, from Cambridgeshire. All provided useful information for his restoration work. Eventually, Ian was ready to begin the task of rebuilding his hut. An electrical engineer by profession, he was helped by what he learnt during a four-year coach-building apprenticeship in his youth. This provided him with the woodwork, metalwork and welding skills needed for much of the work. The restoration took approximately two years. “I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he says. “It was a way of coming back from work and unwinding.” A hut with heart Today, the hut is warm and cosy. On a bright spring day, it is full of sunshine, with a gentle woody smell. Birdsong is heard through the open door. The interior is lined with pine and the floor is made from pitch pine salvaged from a chapel in Suffolk. There are two comfortable wicker chairs and a set of shelves. ›
It is now Ian’s pet ducks, Figgy and Harriet, rather than lambs, that take shelter beneath the hut.
WOODLAND SAPPHIRES The owners of a patch of Kent woodland harvest the seed of their English bluebells, helping ensure this ancient English plant thrives in the future
Karin and Barry Craddock amid the carpet of blue that is their bluebell crop (main). The shiny black seed sits in its drying pods (right, top). Harvesting the seed is backbreaking work (right, bottom). 86
CAPTURING THE DANCE OF LIFE A wildlife artist uses her observations of wild hares to create paintings imbued with the animal’s spirit
ARLY ON A spring morning, Kate Wyatt stands silent in a field, sketch book in hand. In front of her is a telescope, focused on a group of hares. Kate looks through it, then influenced by what she sees, she adds to the sketches in her book. These drawings will provide the basis of an exquisite and lifelike watercolour painting, once she returns to her Buckinghamshire studio. One of Britain’s best-selling print artists, Kate has a particular fascination for hares. She aims to imbue her paintings with a feeling of life. “I’m aiming to capture the essence of the hare rather than a photographic image,” she says. “That means that I paint in a loose way that makes them look as if they’re moving. It’s about the dance of wildlife, constantly struggling to keep going and stay alive. Hares have so many predators, they are always on the move.” Time for observation Before she commits paint to paper, many hours are spent outdoors studying the animals in their natural habitat. “A lot of my work is done outside, whatever the weather,” she says. “I often set off early when daylight is just breaking and I won’t return until after dusk. Those are the times when you see a lot of wild creatures.” She observes the hares as they feed, play and move across the countryside. As well as her outdoor sketches, she takes photographs to turn into sketches. Taking short videos allows her to study them further, at home. Her partner, Tony, also a wildlife artist, works outdoors with her. They regularly visit fields by a river and local lanes bordered by farmland. Walking up to seven miles, the couple stay out all day, until darkness falls. “I feel more alive in the open air. ›
NATURE’S SAND CASTLE Dunes stretching for 20 miles form a constantly changing shoreline along the Lancashire coast
N THE WINDSWEPT coast of north-west England two great rivers, the Mersey and the Ribble, release their waters into the Irish Sea. Between them, emerging from the estuarine mud flats and salt marshes, runs a 20-mile chain of golden sandhills, separating coastal towns and salt-tinged farmland from the sea. These are the dunes of the Sefton Coast, the largest open system of sand dunes in England. Here delicate orchids, rare lizards and prehistoric footprints might be glimpsed alongside expansive beaches and glittering pools. Covering 5,000 acres (2,024 hectares), the Sefton dunes sweep in an arc starting at Crosby in the south. They pass the built-up areas of Hightown, Formby, Ainsdale and Birkdale, ending on the fringes of Southport in the north. The highest point is at Formby, where they rise to 65ft (20m) above sea ›
The Sefton coast
SOUTHPORT Birkdale Marram grass helps hold Sefton’s dunes together (main). The rare sand lizard peers out of its burrow (far left). The numbers of reed bunting are slowly increasing here (centre). Approximately 95 per cent of the British population of dune tiger beetles live at Sefton. It hunts for insects on patches of bare sand (left).
HIGH NOTES The silver song of the skylark pours down from the sky over open countryside
The skylark sings as it rises up into the sky (right). The song continues as it hovers or circles. Finally as the song comes to an end, the bird descends, wings spread (far right).
T IS A bright, crisp, early spring day. The dawn chorus is long over, when suddenly the silence of the open countryside is broken by a couple of notes – ‘trii, trii’ – close at hand. Repeated again, and again, they finally accelerate, slurring into one another. A single, silvery strand of song is formed, that cascades down from a dot in the clear sky. Flying high overhead, a skylark is singing. The skylark’s song is truly extraordinary, made so by its length, persistence and the fact that it is delivered from so high up. Other birds produce a song flight, but none is as complex, sustained or powerful. The song is not as melodic as that of the blackbird, nor as powerful, dramatic and far-carrying as the nightingale’s. Compared to those noted songbirds, the skylark uses a restricted number of sounds. It can, however, be both musical and resonant, with ‘tee-ee, tee-ee’ and ‘tyu-yu, tyu-yu’ phrases. These are woven into a fine, widely cast web of warbling. Imitations of other birds may be included, although its mimicry pales in comparison to starlings or song thrushes. Instead this unique song is distinguished by the wide variety of combinations the notes are used in and the unbroken, gently flowing quality of the whole. A musical message It is the male skylarks that sing and they do it for two reasons. One is to establish and maintain a territory, from which other males will be excluded. The other, related, purpose is to attract a mate. The longer and more complex the song, the more likely a female bird is to be impressed by his stamina and invention. The bird is sending out a message that he is so virile, healthy and good at finding food he can afford to spend large parts of the day flying around singing. Carrying this to its
fullest extent, research shows that when approached by a bird of prey such as a merlin, older skylarks sing louder and more forcefully than the younger males. They are effectively telling the hunter to try to take him on. Single song flights are usually between a minute and five minutes long, averaging two to two-and-a-half. They can last as long as 10 minutes, and have been recorded at over 20 minutes. No other bird in the UK manages such a sustained performance, with no apparent pause for breath after that first stutter of notes. The flight starts with quickly fluttering wings and spread tail, continuing up to a height of 160-330ft (50-100m). The longest phase of the song is performed as the skylark hovers or circles slowly over head. Finally, as the song nears its end, the bird parachutes down, again with spread wings and tail. Finally it closes its wings approximately 65ft (20m) up, ›
“Higher still and higher From the earth thou springest Like a cloud of fire; The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.” Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘To a Skylark’
IN KING ALFRED’S ANCIENT CAPITAL
The limestone walls of Winchester Cathedral gleam in the fresh spring sunlight.
The city where the dream of a united England was forged, Winchester has been a site of historic significance since the Iron Age
UCKED IN THE basin of the Itchen Valley at the western end of Hampshire’s South Downs sits an ancient city which was once the most important in England. For 2,000 years Winchester has stood between high chalk ridges to the east and low rolling downs to the west. In spring, its flint and limestone buildings are encircled by hillsides of fresh grass and bluebell-carpeted ancient woodland. Between the streets, the River Itchen gives life to damselflies and wildflowers while gardens are coloured with daffodils and cherry blossom. Winchester first saw life as a Roman town, Venta Belgarum. This was established in AD70 on the site of an Iron Age settlement chosen because it was a good place to cross the River Itchen. Abandoned by the Romans when they left Britain in the 5th century, it went on to become the capital of the kings of Wessex. Named from Wintan-ceastre, the Old English for Fort Venta, it was the most significant settlement in England at this time. Over the centuries, it has retained an intimate atmosphere. From the top of the sole remaining gate of the outer city walls at Westgate, it is possible to look down the length of the High Street to the eastern edge of the city. This is only 1,000yd (900m) away. The Roman origins of the High Street are now long buried, but the River Itchen still runs the course set by the Romans. An idiosyncratic collection of buildings and monuments line the street, an architectural jumble of flint, stone and red brick. Each represents a slice of time out of Winchester’s long history. Staring back from that eastern end is the statue of Winchester’s most famous son, Alfred the Great. “King Alfred made Winchester a part of England’s national story,” ›
Bring every season to life in your home with LandScape
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GORGEOUS GARDENING We celebrate the beauty and diversity of the British garden and its plants. You’ll find inspiration and advice as we invite you into gardens where nature and nurture flourish.
INSPIRATIONAL COOKERY Every issue has tempting recipes that make the most of the season’s produce. You’ll find new ways to enjoy traditional favourites for every meal.
EXQUISITE CRAFT Enjoy discovering how to create beautiful decorations using seasonal flowers and foliage. Follow our step-by-step guides to creating simple crafts for home and garden.
CELEBRATING HERITAGE Read about the craftsmen and women who are keeping Britain’s traditional skills alive. Visit towns, villages and countryside that encapsulates the country’s proud history.
CHANGING COUNTRYSIDE Learn about the animals and birds that inhabit our fields, rivers and seas. And we explain how there’s more to many of our farm animals than meets the eye.
LIVE LIFE AT NATURE’S PACE WITH
Published on Mar 11, 2016
LandScape magazine celebrates the joy of the garden, simple seasonal recipes, traditional British crafts and the wonder of nature and the co...