Garden planning, and compost making.

2015.03.05

 

The sun is out and we’re anticipating the year ahead. Last year Andrew Montgomery and the Country Living team came to film our endeavours at Walnuts Farm. Here’s a little hint of what’s to come.

 

Bella’s dividing snowdrops and bringing Spring into the kitchen.

2015.02.23

 

This weekend, even though the wind had a cruel, bitter chill to it, I was determined to get outside amongst the snowdrops. The short flowering period of this delicately beautiful (once cultivated) now wild flower, at such a bleak time of year, makes it incredibly special. Snowdrops seem to really thrive here at Walnuts Farm, and with careful division of the bulbs and re-planting over the last few years, we have managed to populate large swathes of the front meadow and woodland area alongside the track with these uplifting little plants.  However, rather like unruly children, snowdrops don’t always grow where you want them, and on Saturday I saw that many had up sticks and migrated to fill the damp ditches along our boundary, probably spread by seed.

I decided to view this act of freewill as an opportunity to bring some of this outdoor beauty indoors and create a natural tablescape of snowdrops and moss for the kitchen. I never thought it was possible to bring snowdrops into the warmth of the home but I was inspired to see it in action at Daylesford farm during a quick visit ‘up country’ during half term. My plan is to re-plant the snowdrop bulbs outside once the little flowers have faded, and populate even more of our ‘wild’ areas with the flowers.

So, full of enthusiasm I set about filling my large creamware pan which in summer and autumn is brimming with fresh vegetables, but is currently looking less than abundant with just a few loose onion skins, garlic bulbs, dried chillies and a half-used piece of ginger rattling about at the bottom. I filled the pan with some potting compost, and divided up the clumps of snowdrop bulbs, packing them in quite closely together. In nature, they seem to enjoy this companionship and are rarely seen growing alone. I then filled the gaps with damp moss which I peeled from our clay roof tiles on the bread oven – very satisfying as the moss comes away in big slabs. I packed the moss around the flowers to help retain moisture as snowdrops like rich, damp conditions and sprayed the whole thing with water before carrying it indoors. A truly gratifying, simple pleasure…

A New Year

2015.01.22

 

 

Nick and Bella have been married for 12 years and have spent the last nine years enthusiastically restoring Walnuts Farm and its surrounding five acres into a beautiful and productive model farm.

 

Nick and Bella have embraced the ‘good life’ along with their two daughters, Flora (10) and Peggy (7).  Their small family farm has an extensive kitchen garden surrounded by woven hazel fencing, a wild flower meadow, a coppice and open pasture, all of which have been created from a bare-field site by Nick and Bella.  Their aim to live off the land as much as possible means undertaking a schedule of planting fruit trees, tending to their wild flower meadow and kitchen gardens and nurturing the livestock consisting of poultry, pigs, sheep and honey bees.

 

With their simple and achievable approach of raising ‘just enough’ livestock and fruit and vegetables to happily feed a family of four throughout the year Nick and Bella adamantly believe that the good life does not have to be the hard life.

 

The family lifestyle has been serialised in Country Living magazine throughout 2014 where we were able to follow the work going on at Walnuts Farm and the food the family grow and eat.  A new series, “A Taste of the Good Life” featuring Nick and Bella, is to appear in Country Living from April 2015.

 

In addition to being the family home, Walnuts Farm is a successful film and photographic location where they regularly host fashion, interiors and advertising shoots for clients including L’Oreal, John Lewis, White Stuff, Kew, Rowan, Joules, Great Little Trading Company, Neal’s Yard, Net A Porter, Next, Lombok, Sony, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Gardens Illustrated, Homes and Gardens, and Port magazine.

 

 




Christmas at Walnuts Farm with Nick & Bella in December Country Living

2014.12.17

 

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

Nick & Bella in September Country Living

2014.08.12

Photographs by Brent Darby. Food and drink editor Alison Walker. Styling by Ben Kendrick. Words by Louise Elliott.

Smoking Trout at Walnuts Farm

2014.04.02

 

The opening of the trout season, and a big haul from Bewl Water is always a good excuse to get out the smoker…

We smoked over oak wood chips using a smoker from Outdoor Cook. The fish were all caught ‘low and slow’ on black and green lures, as is typical for this time of year. You can see more of us smoking trout and a recipe for hot smoked trout with beetroot and apple salad in the March 2014 issue of Country Living magazine.