We had a great day romping around the nature reserve today. We had an enthusiastic gaggle of kids, most of whom mastered the art of lighting a fire in a fire bowl using a fire striker. This takes determination and a bit of patience. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to get it right! So it was great that most of the kids got there in the end. We cooked our lunch on the campfire, made some Elder bead necklaces and generally got a bit muddy and scruffy. Our home made bread was even flavoured with wild garlic leaves picked on site.
A few families have been in touch enquiring about the toddler group. We aren’t able to run the sessions at the moment but it’s great to get feedback that people are keen. We will resume the sessions in early September once school is back.
Monday was our second week of developing our Nectar Garden at Mortimer Terrace along with a small but dedicated group of local participants. We meet every Monday and in the next few weeks we will be planting and welcoming lots of pollinating insects.
Before we started the sun drenched bank had become overrun with green alkanet, creeping buttercup, burdock and bramble – all good nectar plants but not a good spread of flowering through the seasons. And the nature reserve is covered in these already, so we think we can greatly improve on the diversity in this spot.
And during the second session we’d got to grips with a lot of the weeds. We have left some plants in place; a big clump of lovage, horseradish, lavender, rosemary, yarrow, a teasel. These are the last survivors of the medicinal herb garden that was planted and looked after 10 years ago by Matti:
This is truly my favourite time of year in the woods -nothing quite beats that lush Spring green for me! So, with the weather as promised – a beautiful day at last! – what a great opportunity to finally get out in the woods and play! And catch the last of the bluebells. A small group of us met and wandered off to play games of “123 where are you?” under the fresh green canopy.
Next, we wandered a bit further to play a game of “meet a tree” – one of my favourite games where, in pairs, one partner is blindfolded and guided by the other to a tree, where they feel the bark, shapes and textures of the trunk, then have to find it again when led back to the starting point and un-blindfolded!
Leading on from this game, we began a discussion about trees – are they all the same? what’s different about them? Then using leaf i-dials (thank you Woodland Trust’s www.naturedetectives.org.uk/) we tried to identify the trees in Queen’s Wood. Queen’s Wood is mainly Hornbeam, Oak and Beech, with Cherries, Birch, Hazel, Ash, Rowan, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Field Maple, and many more, and an understorey of Holly, Hawthorn and Elder. We found a few of these and made leaf prints on cloth and bark rubbings with twig frames.
By the way, sorry about the quality of the photos – my phone camera isn’t very good!
This month’s Woodland Wander will take place this weekend (Sunday 13th May, 10.30-12.30) – weather permitting! If the rain is torrential, check here for updates…
Anything less than torrential and we’ll be out there – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
The trees are well in leaf by now, so the forest will be transformed and we will explore our changed surroundings and learn a thing or two about trees and their uses in fun activities and games.
Brave the weather and come along!
Inspired through nettles. We have been harvesting nettles and cooking with it two of our best recipes so far:
Fresh Nettles – 1 cup (liquid measuring cup)
Walnuts – 1/2 cup
Garlic – 2 cloves chopped/or wild garlic leaves
Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons
Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons grated
How to make it:
Harvest the top part of the nettle (approx. two leaves down from top) .
In a food processor, first crush the walnuts, then add the garlic and basil. Blend it for a few seconds, then add the oil and the cheese, blend for some more time till everything comes together. Remove and store it in the refrigerator. Use it as a spread on bread, or on pizza and in your pasta.
1 lb potatoes
½ lb young nettles
1 medium sized onion
2 oz butter
1½ pts chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt & black pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream
Cook the peeled, chopped potatoes for 10 mins in salted water. Drain.
Wash & chop coarsely the nettles (Only pick the new, young tops,using gloves!)
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion until its lightly cooked and add the nettles and stew gently for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.
When all is soft, cool slightly & purée in a blender, adding seasoning and the sour cream.