Blog Posts

Flowers, fireworks and family fun

Shrewsbury Flower Show is the world’s longest running independent flower show. Nearly every year since 1875 – the only exceptions being during both world wars – the show has been held in the heart of Shrewsbury’s town centre.

On 12 and 13 August the beautiful 29-acre Quarry Park will be awash with wonderful flowers, fabulous food and live entertainment – the ultimate summer day out! This is one of the country’s premier flower show events, attracting top exhibitors from all over the country so expect fantastic floral displays, horticultural competitions and high quality trade stands.SFS-2015-Quarry-Marquee---2385
With children 15 years and under admitted free when accompanied with an adult, and a dedicated children’s area which features lots of activities, unusual animals to see, ponies and ducks to pet, plus much more, Shrewsbury Flower Show is an ideal family day out. SFS-2015-Quarry-Marquee---2410
The large Quarry Marquee is home to the top national nurseries and growers who create stunning displays to admire and inspire, whilst the Severn Marquee is full of home grown flowers and vegetables. Advice is on hand from many exhibitors and horticultural organisations. The Dingle is awash with beauty with spectacular floral art creations on display.
The arena offers a variety of entertainment to suit every taste. The major attraction for 2016 is The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment who will perform twice each day with 24 horses. Other highlights include Grade A showjumping and Dingle Fingle comedy car act. There’s live music on Friday night from The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and on Saturday from The Christians. Throughout the event will be performances from choirs, while a massed band finale and stunning firework display wrap up the show on both nights.

For the green fingered visitors, horticultural expert Sarah Raven will be sharing gardening tips and advice. Sarah has written for The Daily Telegraph, Country Living, Gardens Illustrated, Gardeners’ World Magazine, The English Garden and Sainsbury’s Magazine. Her gardening and cookery books have won her a number of awards.
Sarah has presented on BBC Gardeners’ World and had a well-received TV series in 2012 called Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, following her attempts to flower up the nation to hugely increase insect habitat and food supply.

Over in the dedicated Foodhall celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine will be creating mouth-watering, indulgent but healthy food. Her edgy attitude has caught the attention of the fashion world and she regularly makes the fashion pages of the UK’s style magazines.
There are lots of great shopping opportunities in the large trade stands area and wonderful unique gifts are on offer in the craft marquee and artisan crafts and farmers’ market.


For more information go to

It’s Blooming Buzzing at Shropshire Petals

Each summer, the Shropshire countryside is a wash with brightly coloured fields of delphinium and wild flowers grown by Shropshire Petals. These flowers are grown predominantly to dry and become confetti forunspecified4
weddings and events. During the growing process, the Shropshire Petals fields also become home to a number of bees as they collect pollen from them.

Bees are important to farmers and growers of many types of crops, including food sources and flowers. According to Friends of the Earth*, the UK has lost a shocking 20 species of bees with a further quarter on the red list of threatened species. Bees depend on flowers for food, and in the past 60 years 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared.  unspecified3

Shropshire Petals are proud to be doing their bit to help with the bee population. Shropshire Petals’ flowers bloom through July and August providing plenty food for bees for several weeks each year.

Shropshire Petals grow a wide range of flowers, including delphiniums, calendula and cornflowers in an array of colours, including blues, purples and yellows in a variety of different shades, which are particularly attractive to a range of bee species.

Bees prefer flat or shallow blossom, making the calendula perfect as they open fully to show off their centre, which attracts bees, as it is easy to get to, and the petals make a great landing spot. Delphiniums are also renowned as a favourite for bees due to their nectar spurs, which the flower is named after.

Jim Bubb, Managing Director at Shropshire Petals said “good pollination is important to our flower field development and likewise, our flowers are important to increasing the bee population – they go hand in hand
and we are proud to be able to help such an important cause.”

“We don’t use any machinery for picking our flowers as they are all picked by hand. Our pickers are very careful to ensure that bees are kept safe by checking each flower they pick is free from bees. If there are bees collecting pollen on flowers when they are picking, they carefully encourage them to move on.”unspecified

To see the pretty Shropshire Petals fields, you can view them from the A41 near Newport.

To find out more about Shropshire Petals visit their website



Fun in the sun

Six of the best buys for summer out of doors


Moon Rocket, Alley Katz, Bridgnorth, £109

Moon Rocket, Alley Katz, Bridgnorth, £109 Scoot-along toy for budding astronauts aged from two

Water bottle, KittClothing, Bridgnorth, £9.99

Water bottle, KittClothing, Bridgnorth, £9.99 or free with qualifying purchase Stay hydrated with this designer bottle from Desigual

Boules set from Laura Ashley, £20

Boules set from Laura Ashley, £20 Classic English garden game

Den kit, Little Monkeys, Bridgnorth, from £14.99

Den kit, Little Monkeys, Bridgnorth, from £14.99 A range of kits for ages 3+ and 5+ to give youngsters hours or even days of fun

Crane from This, That and the Other, Bridgnorth, £34

Crane from This, That and the Other, Bridgnorth, £34 Add a touch of wildlife to your garden

Woven picnic bag, Next, £16

Woven picnic bag, Next, £16 With room for a family feast

The great outdoors

Whether your look is rustic, vintage or boho, the garden can reflect your personal style just as much as inside the home. There’s furniture to suit every taste, from a smart outdoor sofa to English chintz and French bistro.

So this summer scatter some cushions, lay the table and hang up the lights; and enjoy some memorable days and evenings entertaining in the sun.

Wall fountain £34 from This, That and the Other, Bridgnorth

Wall fountain £34 from This, That and the Other, Bridgnorth

Henley outdoor mattress, £150, scatter cushions also available £35, from The White Company

Henley outdoor mattress, £150, scatter cushions also available £35, from The White Company


Mesh and wood bulbous lantern £49.99, outdoor candlesticks £16.99 and £18.99, from That’s Nice! in Bridgnorth

Mesh and wood bulbous lantern £49.99, outdoor candlesticks £16.99 and £18.99, from That’s Nice! in Bridgnorth

Hawthorn Tree garden table and chairs from British Ironworks Centre, near Oswestry, prices from £150 ( for table)

Hawthorn Tree garden table and chairs from British Ironworks Centre, near Oswestry, prices from £150 (for table)


A simple and stylish look for summer – accessories from The White Company

A simple and stylish look for summer – accessories from The White Company


Peach daybed from Maze Living, £1,499

Peach daybed from Maze Living, £1,499


Square dining table and four chairs from M&S, £599

Square dining table and four chairs from M&S, £599



Glass bottle lantern from the Cottage Garden range by the National Trust, £6

Glass bottle lantern from the Cottage Garden range by the National Trust, £6




Rochelle five-piece outdoor dining set from Next, £299

Rochelle five-piece outdoor dining set from Next, £299


The Henri garden chair, £260 for a set of two from

The Henri garden chair, £260 for a set of two from


Mali corner sofa from Homebase, £599.99

Mali corner sofa from Homebase, £599.99










July jewels open for charity

Shropshire really does have some jewels of gardens and there is no better time than the long, sunny days of July to go out and about in our beautiful county to enjoy them. Many of the county’s best gardens are open as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) which raises much-needed funds for cancer and nursing charities.

From north to south, east to west, across the county, there is a garden to suit everyone: what could be nicer than spending a summer’s afternoon sitting in a beautiful garden having a homemade tea – what a very British pastime!
There are two opportunities in July to visit the acre garden at Ruthall Manor at Ditton Priors sitting amongst beautiful Shropshire farmland with views of Brown Clee (8, 29 July). The garden, lovingly tended by Lynda and Gerald Clarke, is a medley of unusual specimen trees which partition the garden into intimate sections, linked by recently extended, winding paths with some new planting combinations using rare and distinctive plants. This year, new projects include a redesigned vegetable and fruit garden; a natural stone path beneath the canopy of trees, which leads visitors from the woodland garden, under an arch smothered with clematis and roses to the shade garden; along with subtle changes to the eclectic pottery and ironwork.
48 Bramble Ridge in Bridgnorth has colourful, plant-packed terraces which afford outstanding views across the Severn Valley (17 July). This fascinating garden has many features to interest visitors: as well as its borders, there is a vegetable and herb garden and wildlife pond. Also open on the same day will be the neighbouring garden at 16 Bramble Ridge.
Between Bridgnorth and Ludlow in the beautiful Corvedale, visitors can find the pretty walled garden and nursery at Mynd Hardy Plants in the grounds of Delbury Hall (24 July). This warm, walled space is not to be missed by plant lovers looking for a delightful place to visit and have tea and to find that extra special plant to take home to their own garden.
Also in tColourful-borders-at-Marchamley-Househe Corvedale is Norton Farm (1 July), now a collection of pretty holiday cottages on the site of an old farm. This delightful setting has been tastefully restored and planted with colourful summer borders, some in a Mediterranean style, heritage orchard and ornamental pond, all with far-reaching views over the Clee Hills.
The NGS is well-represented in the north of the county too. Opening for the first time for NGS on Sunday 24 July is the half-acre town garden, Sunningdale, in the centre of Wem. Incorporating sculptural elements, such as a natural stone rockery waterfall, solar-powered greenhouse, traditional and modern sculptures and a koi pond, this fascinating garden is sure to wow visitors on their first visit.
At Hodnet, the ever-popular garden at Marchamley House (3 July) will open its gates for visitors to admire its two acres with stunning views of the Shropshire countryside, complete with mixed, colourful borders, a vegetable garden and meadow walks amongst trees and ponds. In addition there will be an exhibition and sale of pictures by botanical artist, Mary Morton.
The Croft at Ash Magna, near Whitchurch, which opens every Tuesday in the month for NGS, is ideal for adults and children alike to enjoy the sheep, pigs and chickens, pond dipping and wildlife: a great place for kids to explore – there’s even a Green Man in the woods!
At Sambrook Manor, Sambrook, near Newport (17 July), sweeping lawns, well-stocked borders and specimen shrubs and trees await visitors with homemade teas in the pretty courtyard with its collection of acers; walks can be taken down to the river bank: a lovely afternoon out.

The magnificent double-herbaceous border at Goldstone Hall, Goldstone, near Market Drayton, is a wonderful sight in July (6,20, 27) with so much summer colour, shape and form, with the back-drop of this delightful hotel.
Another Shropshire jewel is the award-winning Windy Ridge at Little Wenlock, near Telford (17 July). The garden is designed around themes and spaces, and with over 1,000 plants, an inspirational place for plant-lovers.
There are other jewels of gardens to enjoy in the south of the county. The group of 15 village gardens in and around Stottesdon will open their gates over the weekend of 2-3 July: this eclectic mix of gardens shows how people interpret their green spaces differently.
Also open the same weekend is another community project which goes from strength to strength: Bowbrook Allotment Community to the south of Shrewsbury incorporates all the good elements of gardening organically and with wildlife in mind. The project proves that food can be produced in a sustainable, green way.
At the far end of the county, the new NGS garden at Guilden Down Cottage opened for the first time to great acclaim in May (3 July). This one acre organic garden has everything! Beautiful borders, productive vegetable and fruit garden, wildflower meadows and ponds, sheep and chickens: a delightful jewel to visit in the wonderful south Shropshire Hills.
Find out more at

Broseley in Bloom

This beautifulgardeninBridgeRoadwasaflatpatchofgrasstwoyearsearlier

This beautiful garden in Bridge Road was a flat patch of grass two year searlier

Broseley will be opening its gardens to the public on Sunday 26 June when the town will be holding its annual Open Gardens Day. Last year’s event saw some eight gardens open to the public and this year’s Day promises to be just as

extensive. The gardens will be open from 1.30 – 5.30 pm giving visitors ample time to enjoy all those on display. Refreshments will be available at All Saints’ Church in Church Street and tickets may be obtained from there on the day, from any of the open gardens, or in advance from James Hurdley (E Davis) or Downes in the High Street. The cost is £3.00 each, with children under 12 free.

In addition to this popular attraction, it has been decided to reinstate Broseley’s Garden Competition, starting this year with three categories – best frontage display, best private garden and best business or commercial display. Judging will be held in July with entries to be received by the end of June. Entry forms are available from James Hurdley (E Davis) or Downes

One of the frontages in an earlier competition

in the High Street or from the Weekly Shop in Elizabeth Crescent. Results will be announced in July.


For further information on both the Open Gardens Day and the Garden Competition contact Carol Cooper, 01952 882715.


Lilies in one of Broseley’s beautiful gardens

BBC Good Food Show Summer, 16 – 19 June 2016

Get ready for a warm welcome from the BBC Good Food Show Summer, sponsored by Lexus, this June. The Show returns to the NEC Birmingham, promising to be one of the summer’s tastiest days out and a great way to spend a day with food loving friends. With many of the nation’s favourite chefs and celebs, a wide range of local and regional artisan producers and everyone’s favourite big name brands, there’s something for everyone.
Highlights in 2016 will include:

The Supertheatre
The Supertheatre will host a range of chefs and celebs including Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, The Hairy Bikers, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, James Martin and more. A BBC Good Food Show first, Alan Titchmarsh joins Mary Berry in the Supertheatre on Friday for a home-grown extravaganza. Visitors can watch delicious demonstrations live and take home the recipes in an exclusive Showguide. Afterwards, they can get the latest cookbooks signed by their favourites at the Book Shop, sponsored by WH Smith.

BBC Good Food Stage
The BBC Good Food Show Summer are delighted to unveil the newest feature at the Show, the BBC Good Food Stage, sponsored by Lakeland. Hosted by Barney Desmazery and Cassie Best from the BBC Good Food cookery team, this stage features a combination of celebrity interviews and recipe demos. Visitors can hear from celebrity chefs and experts and discover their culinary secrets and top tips for summer food and get recipe ideas from live demonstrations.

Discover and Learn by Lexus
Discover and Learn by Lexus is an interactive feature at the BBC Good Food Show Summer consisting of three themed masterclasses which focus on different foodie areas; Cupcake decorating with Marcus Bean, Sushi Making with Yo Sushi and Taste Sensation with Flavour Sense Nation. Lexus will take guests on a journey of discovery with expert hosts, who will share their knowledge and expertise in 30-40 minute, step by step masterclasses, for all ages and abilities. Guest will leave with a repertoire of knowledge to share with friends or recreate at home. See website for booking details.

Producers’ Village
The Producers’ Village is a huge speciality food market at the heart of the show, packed with small artisan producers. Look out for BBC Good Food Champions and Bursary Award Winners who pride themselves in the quality and provenance of their produce.

Ludlow Producers Market
The Ludlow Producers Market section of the Show brings together a fantastic collection of producers from Ludlow and the Marches. With an emphasis on local, independent food and drink producers this is a great area to pick up some interesting products that visitors won’t find in the supermarkets.

Chinese Pavilion
NEW for the 2016 Show, visitors can discover far eastern flavours in the Chinese Pavilion. Browse and shop from a selection of producers specialising in a variety of teas, wines and spirits.

BBC Good Food Kitchen
The BBC Good Kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing lunch at the show where visitors can savour dishes inspired by seasonal recipes.

BBC Gardeners’ World Live
Tickets to the show include free entry to BBC Gardeners’ World Live which takes place alongside the food show. See gardening experts including Monty Don, Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Alan Titchmarsh live on stage sharing their expertise, unearth tips for growing fresh ingredients at home, get equipped for BBQ season or simply enjoy a picnic amongst the beautiful Show Gardens with tasty purchases from the shopping aisles.


We’ve teamed up with the show organisers to bring you recipes from some of the celebrity chefs who wil be appearing at the show.

Check out:


Mary Berrys Malted Chocolate Cake


Monkfish Scampi from Tom Kerridge


Cornish Pasties from Paul Hollywood


The Hairy Bikers Lamb Vindaloo









Here at county woman we’re running a competition over the next month for your chance to win one of three amazing BBC books:

Carol Klein – Wild Flowers Nature’s Own to Garden Grown
BBC Books – GoodFood Sunday Lunches
Monty Don – Gardening at Longmeadow

Enter this weeks competition to win Monty Don – Gardening at Longmeadow

Enter the competition here

Competition Closes on Friday 17th June

Good luck!
Head over to our facebook page, like and share & invite your friends to enter
Monty Sundaylunch CarolKlein

Perk up your patio

Six of the best for the great outdoors


Minuti pizza oven, from Saxon, Gledrid, near Oswestry, £1,675 Wood-fired pizza oven for the garden or terrace, from the Alfa Pizza range

Large standard lantern, from Coco 64, Newport, £99 Made from chrome, height 1120, width 300, length 300mm

Ceramic plant pots, from Tea & Roses, Bridgnorth, from £12.50 to £30 Group these pots to create a colourful display or keep herbs handy

Ultraviolet Jelly Fish deckchair,, £99.99 Relax on this striking abstract design by British artist Jaccqueline Hammond

Kadai fire bowl from Wilstone House & Gardens, Leebotwood, package £304 Fire up the party with a Kadia fire bowl, here with high gothic stand, cooking tripod and cooking bowl


Pink gold star sunshade,, £750 Made from waterproof canvas, 3m diameter

























Will gardening spark your hay fever?

meadow-123280_1920With the lighter nights and (hopefully) warmer weather, it’s tempting to get out there, pull up a few weeds and get the lawnmower out of the shed.

But if you’ve had hay fever in the past then you’ll know the perils of grass pollen.  Symptoms include runny eyes and nose; sneezing and itchiness.

Hay fever affects one in five people at some point in their lives.  And the good news is most people report their symptoms improving as they get older with up to 20 per cent saying their symptoms have gone away completely.  The not so good news is, hay fever can affect anyone at any age.

So, what should you do if you start to show symptoms?  Dr Julian Povey Chair of NHS Shropshire CCG explains: “First of all, the symptoms of hay fever can be really unpleasant.  It usually develops in childhood,lily-185317_1920 more so in those with a history of asthma or eczema in their families.

“The best way to control hay fever is with antihistamines.  Starting to take them now so they get into your system will really be of benefit.  These are available from the pharmacy.  And if you’ve any questions remember the pharmacist can help you decide which are best for you, particularly if you’re already on medication.

Dr Jo Leahy Chair of NHS Telford and Wrekin added: “There are some other ways you can help yourself too.  Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors can protect eyes.  Taking a shower and changing clothes after being outdoors will stop you spreading pollen through your home.  Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and staying indoors if the pollen count is high.  Finally, a small amount of petroleum jelly in the nose helps trap pollen grains.”

For further information about Hay Fever use the NHS Choices website at or if you are unsure about your symptoms contact your pharmacist or GP.

Perennial passion

echanatia-1123367__180As gardeners sift through seed catalogues, placing their orders for the summer ahead, many are unaware of a scheme run by a hardy group of plant fans which offers the chance to try rare and interesting seeds not always found in the commercial catalogues. 

The Hardy Plant Society’s Seed Distribution Scheme is a kind of ‘seed swap shop’ which sees members of the association pool their resources (in this case seeds from their gardens and collections) and share them with others keen to spread their love of perennials across the globe. 

Recipients of the scheme (now closed for 2016) have been receiving their seed packets this week and posting excited comments on social media as they propagate their seeds and anticipate the promise of perennial flowers blooming in their gardens this summer. 


the seeds begin arriving from donors in October

The current scheme spans several continents with the parcels,  prepared in the UK, winging their way to 18 different countries.  It’s a wonderfully eccentric yet practical idea, for members of an association to pool their seeds and redistribute them to those interested in growing.

As a charity, the Hardy Plant Society was set up in 1957 prompted by fears that the numbers of hardy perennials had continued to disappear since the Second World War.  The seed distribution scheme fast became an integral part of the society’s work. 

The society’s current seed distribution list has 2,100 different varieties and cultivars collected and donated by members from their favourite plants.  The seeds include both rare and familiar species and are put together by a hardy band of supporters who sort and package the seeds then post them out to the members. The mixed parcels of seed packets arrive in the new year and help diminish the January blues.


cataloguing the seeds

Gardeners can order peonies, trilliums, cyclamen and varieties you can’t find in commercial catalogues from the seed list which arrives just prior to Christmas. This list is put together following the ‘seed-receiving’ operation in October when thousands of seeds are sorted as they come in from members  in Britain and abroad.

This epic operation is co-ordinated by Pauline Cooper, a member of the HPS Shropshire group.  Receiving seeds and verifying them is a huge job which is split between volunteers.  

It’s no mean operation being a ‘seed-receiver’.  As the seeds pour in, the seed receivers have the job of sorting them and verifying them. Sue Bosson of the Shropshire group helped Joe and Wendy Sime, themselves seed sorting stalwarts, to identify, label and list the seeds. 

Sue said: “I soon discovered that normal life as I knew it would be put on hold for two months, and that Joe hadn’t been kidding when he’d said not to book any holidays in October.”  
Obstacles faced by the sorting team include deciphering different handwriting, unlabelled packets, packets accompanied by lists with no corresponding numbers (necessitating Google time to identify the seeds!), unidentified seeds (which go into a ‘general mix’), sifting through foreign bodies such as beetles, dead snails and flies, lifting the huge Plant Finder guide (that makes an excellent doorstop) and wading through the spreadsheets. 

Although the task itself is daunting in size and organisation HPS volunteers relish the task.  Sue Bosson says: “When my job came to an end on November the 1st I had withdrawal symptoms.  Will I do it again?  The answer is; I can’t wait!”

After the seeds have been sorted into their small glassine envelopes by volunteers in Lincolnshire, Kent and southern counties, they are returned to  the hub of the operation in  Shropshire where the group hire Fitz village hall near Bicton for two weeks in January to make up the 1,000+ orders. Twelve Shropshire volunteers per day work to put together 200 orders a day and then post the parcels out to eager HPS members.

The scheme is not just a good natured co-operative, the operation helps to conserve perennial plants that aren’t always available in the mainstream seed catalogues and helps maintain their popularity in our gardens. 

The society welcomes members of all ages and of all gardening abilities, from beginners to experts; it’s relevant to all gardeners and costs less than £17 to join.  A student membership of £10 is being launched this February and hopes to attract promising student garden designers, those studying horticulture and young gardeners who tend school patches.

For further information please visit: