Archive | October, 2012

Keeping the apples cosy – and the children amused

27 Oct
Ideal habitat: Each cosy is decorated with a ladybird

Ideal habitat: Each cosy is decorated with a ladybird

Fruity trail: One of our crocheted apple cosies
Fruity trail: One of our crocheted apple cosies

National Trust properties are well known for their fun children’s trails – but we think we’ve got the best one yet. Amanda, the gardener, has just been round the house hiding 16 crocheted apple cosies for our younger visitors to find!

If you haven’t heard of these – and I’d be surprised if you had – they are like tiny tea cosies but specially designed for apples. If you’re now wondering whether you too should be keeping your crop warm this way, I ought to add that you can’t buy them in the shops, because they’re just for fun.

Ours were crocheted by the lady who turned out to be behind the (initially) mysterious yarn bombing that we suffered a few weeks ago and they are certain to bring a smile to the face of anyone who sees them.

On the trail: An apple cosy perches on a candle sconce

On the trail: An apple cosy perches on a candle sconce

Halloween fun at Wordsworth House

22 Oct
Spooky: Come along and make some silhouette decorations

Spooky: Come along and make some silhouette decorations

There’s lots going on for all ages at Wordsworth House and Garden during the autumn school holiday week.

On Saturdays October 27 and November 3, we have a range of special talks and tastings at 11.30am and 2.30pm.

On Sundays October 28 and November 4, come along at 11.30am or 2.30pm to hear about some of the bizarre way Georgians of all classes amused themselves, then try your hand at a game of cards or skittles 18th-century style.

Children can make pastry pumpkins in our working Georgian kitchen on Monday, October 29, from 11am to 3pm.

Tuesday, October 30, is sugar and spice day, with talks about the Georgians’ love of all things sweet and spicy at 11.30am and 2.30pm.

We also have a very special Halloween event that day – artist Rosalie Short will be leading drop-in workshops from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm where you can make some fabulous spooky-themed silhouette decorations.

On Wednesday, October 31, children can roll up their sleeves and learn to make clapbread between 11am and 3pm.

And, finally, on Thursday, November 1, at 11.30am and 2.30pm, the costumed servants will be telling traditional Cumbrian ghost stories by the fire in the kitchen.

So why not come along and join us – and be sure to pop out to the garden and visit me while you’re here!

Normal admission charges apply for all activities. Entry is free for National Trust members.

Warming up for winter with fennel

18 Oct

Autumn is a very busy time in the garden. It’s still bright with colour from turning leaves and late flowering herbaceous plants, but it has to be tidied up and “put to bed” for winter.

Being organic, we aren’t as tidy as some people would expect. Although we cut back many larger plants, we leave some low-growing herbaceous ones as a winter habitat for our beneficial insects.

Usually at this time of year the seeds of herbaceous annuals, including love-in-a-mist, honesty, cornflower and pot marigold, are nice and dry, allowing us to collect them for sowing in the spring. Sadly, 2012 has been so wet that most of them are still green or have rotted away.

We have managed to gather some fennel seeds though. These are not just for planting either. Crushed, they make a tasty addition to spreads such as cream cheese, or they can be added whole to soups or curries – two types of winter warmer that were popular with the Georgians. Delicious!

Autumn colour: The cardoon is a cousin of the artichoke

Colourful: The cardoon, a cousin of the artichoke

Bounty: Fennel seeds ready for collecting

Bounty: Fennel seeds ready for collecting

The blackbird who thinks she’s a chicken

9 Oct
A handful of corn: Garden volunteer Ian feeds the chickens

A handful of corn: Garden volunteer Ian feeds the Scots Dumpy chickens

We’re into the final month of our open season – Wordsworth House and Garden shuts for the winter in early November. That’s when I go off to my cosy winter abode, otherwise known as Amanda’s shed.

My friends the Scots Dumpy heritage hens will be heading off on their winter holidays at the same time – they go to stay with our coastal ranger Chris and his flock of feathered friends.

Normally, that would mean the team’s bird-keeping duties were over for the year, but not this time. We have a young blackbird who thinks she’s a chicken. She’s spent most of her life so far in their enclosure, enjoying their food, water and companionship. On sunny days, you can find her basking in the sunshine with them, wings spread out just like theirs.

Sadly, we don’t have a photo of her as every time we try to take one, she flies away – she might like the hens but she doesn’t like Amanda with her camera.

We’ll be putting out food and water for her throughout the winter – and we’re hoping she won’t be too lonely without her pals.

Home frome home: Poppy, the Scots Dumpy hen, on her holidays last winter

Home frome home: Poppy, the Scots Dumpy, on her holidays last winter

%d bloggers like this: