Parched Peas for Bonfire Night

Packet of parched peas

On the 5th of November the British remember the thwarting of gunpowder plot with fireworks and bonfires topped with scarecrow-type effigies called guys. The air is soon scented with fireworks and burning wood that linger into the next day.

I don’t like bangers going off and know all about trying to soothe terrified dogs, but I still find Bonfire Night magical. In normal years, it’s a time for getting together and having a jolly good time. This year we can’t celebrate with a town bonfire, and the fireworks that are going off are almost completely obscured by heavy mist. Still, hearing the giggles of children when I was out walking, I can tell that many families are doing their best to keep the tradition alive. Continue reading “Parched Peas for Bonfire Night”

Where to See Snowdrops In Lancashire in 2020

Snowdrops with long outer petals

February is snowdrop month for much of the UK. I’ve gathered a list of places you can see snowdrops this month in my home county, Lancashire, with details of their snowdrop open days. If you’re planning to take close up pictures, go sooner rather than later to catch them at their freshest.

This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for 2020. For those who live elsewhere in Britain, I’ve added a link at the bottom for you to research local gardens with good collections of snowdrops.  Continue reading “Where to See Snowdrops In Lancashire in 2020”

Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater

Trees covered by moss in a Lancashire wood
Temperate rainforest near Cadshaw Brook in Lancashire

When my sweetheart described the woods near the Entwistle reservoir as temperate rainforest, I was taken aback. Rainforest sounds like something you’d have to travel thousands of miles to see rather than walk less than four miles up the road.

Our moist, cool, steamy climate encourages mosses and liverworts, lichens, fungi and ferns to creep over trees and boulders. The Irish sea keeps conditions mild enough for these ancient plants to thrive through summer and winter.

Having grown up scrambling through the wooded valleys of the moors, the Tolkienesque character of this type of landscape is as familiar as the open moorland over the hill. Wild orchids grow further along the path that heads from this spot towards an outcrop of rock called Fairy Battery; follow Cadshaw Brook and you may surprise a fallow deer grazing near Entwistle reservoir. Continue reading “Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater”

Bold Venture Park In Winter

War memorial topped by an angel with trees in the background

My home town, Darwen, has several Victorian parks, including Bold Venture Park. At the entrance, an angel, now nearly 100 years old, holds up a wreath and an olive branch to remind us of the consequences of war and to commemorate those who fell in WW1. The angel’s wings are the first things you see when approaching from the town.

Looking out over a snow-covered park towards the war memorial

Bold Venture is a hillside park with an interesting topography, built around quarries and steep ravines. A small lake, home to ducks, is another visual magnet. The lake rarely freezes right over, but was cold enough to support a band of ice, covered in snow in places.

View of a frosted lake surrounded by snow covered trees

Continue reading “Bold Venture Park In Winter”

Fern Frozen Against A Mossy Moor

Frost-covered fern lying on moss

An old, unflattering rhyme I’ve never liked calls my home town’s moors bleak and barren. Perhaps if you don’t like moorland or have never taken the time to walk on it, you might think so. I suppose some people might care little for what walkers can find on a winter day up there by venturing a few steps off the path.

If you follow my blog you can expect to see brighter, bolder pictures of plant combinations taken in gardens or at flower shows, where skilled, creative hands have put together their best for public consumption.

I’m not sure you’ll see any plant combination I could look at with much more pleasure than this.

In the textures of the frozen vegetation, I seem to see fabric: the fern becomes lace; the moss, wool or velvet. The colours are alluring too: sage, mint and chocolate, the latter frosted to mink. Nothing is jazzy, all is harmonious. I’d love something to wear in a design inspired by this.

It may appear haphazard – there are a few wayward stems, but the fern and strands of grass have surrendered to the frost gracefully and a natural order is appearing – of sorts. Towards the top left, a thaw has started.  Continue reading “Fern Frozen Against A Mossy Moor”