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May 2022




In the garden

In the kitchen


12 Tranquil waters of a lush haven

22 The garden in May

26 Dainty bells with a sweet perfume

36 Plant food from the leaves of comfrey

48 Dishes filled with fresh spring flavour

56 Layers of lightness in a tempting cake

60 Golden buns to bake and share

66 Regional & Seasonal:

Taw River Dairy, Devon

40 Old world charm in petticoat petals

80 Fragmented beauty of a mosaicist’s art

94 Light pull with a macramé twist

96 Hand-dyed ribbons to enhance gifts

100 Easy-to-knit cheerful chicken doorstop

122 Readers share their creative talents






History and heritage



112 The countryside in May

116 Familiar sight of a cheerful,

feathered neighbour

68 Relics of the past among

sweeping dales swathed in gold

104 Azure carpets on an island of birds

6 Readers’ letters

8 Our LandScape

33 In the garden

46 Subscription offer

58 In the kitchen

90 In the home




Full of subtle colour and old world charm, ranunculus is a sumptuous flower

retaining a delicate beauty in spring arrangements



Light, fresh and flavourful, seasonal greens and herbs are

both versatile and packed with goodness


SPRING GREENS OR vegetables are the new

growth or young leaves of a number of edible

plants, including asparagus, peas, spinach,

artichokes, radishes, salad greens and spring

onions. Many leafy vegetables can become bitter as they

age, whereas these will be at their best now. The first

cabbages of the year are also referred to as spring greens

and have fresh, loose heads without a tough heart.

Delicate herbs, such as dill, chives and parsley, are

early arrivals, together with sprouts, such as pea, mustard

and radish. The latter are tiny greens harvested when a

plant is still germinating, which means they are both

tender and full of flavour.

Asparagus, which has a very short season to be

enjoyed, is a good source of fibre, vitamin C and beta

carotene. Both spinach and peas are high in protein,

with spinach also being a good source of iron and

potassium. Eating peas straight from the pod is a

seasonal delight. Colourful salad greens are also

nutritious and high in vitamins A, B and C.

Creamy potato & parsley soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

700g Maris Piper potatoes,

peeled and chopped

800ml cold water

15g fresh curly parsley, chopped,

plus extra to garnish

200ml double cream

4 eggs

sea salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté

the onion for 5-6 mins until softened. Add

the potatoes and water, then bring to the

boil and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer, covered, for 15 mins, then mix in

the parsley.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor

and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture

back into the saucepan, then add the

double cream. Simmer for 2 mins.

In the meantime, poach the eggs in a

separate large saucepan of boiling water for

3-5 mins until cooked as desired.

Divide the soup between 4 soup bowls

and add a poached egg to each. Garnish

with parsley and serve immediately.




Using patterned pieces of broken crockery, Colin Davis gives them

a new life in his visually stunning mosaic creations



From age-old barns to abandoned smelting mills, Upper Swaledale in

North Yorkshire is a land defined by man but ruled by nature



Just off the Pembrokeshire coast, wild Skomer Island is alive with the sound

of seabirds and flooded with bluebells to delight the spring visitor

The Spit

Pig Stone

STANDING AT THE tip of the Marloes

Peninsula on Pembrokeshire’s west coast, a blue

hue is visible on an island more than half a mile

out to sea. The rich colour comes from the thick

carpets of bluebells that sprawl across the open land

during May and June, providing visitors to the island

with the extraordinary experience of walking through

bluebell fields that appear to go on forever.

Even before landing on Skomer Island, its

abundant wildlife makes itself seen and heard. As the

boat approaches North Haven, which is Skomer’s most

sheltered bay, black-and-white specks bob in the water

ahead. These soon reveal themselves to be seabirds:

puffins, razorbills and guillemots, almost within

touching distance of the vessel. Gulls fly overhead,

creating a cacophony of screeches and squawks, while

Grey seals sunbathe on the shingle beach.

Exposed to the elements

The island is rugged and windswept. As there is no

land mass south-west of Skomer until South America,

some 4,000 miles away, it is exposed to storms and

Pains Rock

Skomer Head




The Wick

Garland Stone



Harold Stone






Mew Stone



High Cliff



Shag Rock



rough seas. Cliffs predominate along the coastline,

where seabirds nest precariously on narrow ledges.

Beaches are few and far between, and are normally

strewn with rocks, shingle and seals.

Most people visit for the wildlife: combined with

neighbouring Skokholm Island, Skomer has the

greatest concentration of Manx shearwaters in the

world. It also has 6,000 pairs of breeding puffins; a

population that is actually increasing, while numbers

plummet elsewhere in Britain.

Approximately 20,000 people visit Skomer each

year. Numbers are restricted to 250 per day, to protect

the large numbers of birds living on what is a small

island of just 721 acres, and little more than a mile

from north to south.

Between April and September, the Dale Princess

takes visitors on the 15-minute journey between

Martin’s Haven, on the mainland, and North Haven.

It passes Jack Sound; the treacherous nature of which

helps to protect Skomer from the land predators that

would otherwise decimate the ground-nesting birds.

“Over the thousands of years of human occupation

here, it’s a miracle that rats didn’t get on the island,”

says Mike Alexander, chair of the Wildlife Trust of

South & West Wales, which manages the island. “But

they didn’t, and that’s the single most important

reason for the abundance of wildlife on Skomer.”

Once the boat has landed, the walk begins with a

climb up 87 steps, passing razorbills and guillemots

nesting next to the path. The colours of these auks, as

with many seabirds, camouflage them from both prey

and predators, when swimming on the surface of the ❯

Clockwise from right: A perfect spot to take in South

Haven, Skomer, against a backdrop of bluebells; a puffin

wades through the daisy-like flowers of sea mayweed;

arriving at the island on tourist boat, the Dale Princess;

razorbills chat, chest deep in sea thrift.

“There is a silent eloquence

In every wild bluebell

That fills my softened heart with bliss”

Anne Brontë, ‘The Bluebell’

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