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Magnolia Moments While Cruising Through Showers…

Updated: Apr 13

Entering the time of April showers, bursts of sunshine frequently followed by the pitter patter of raindrops dancing across the ground can be the most satisfying, and secretly most exciting, of everyday moments…

During the downpours, only the dappling sounds surround us, as the usual spring chirps from the trees momentarily pauses with the birds taking cover to keep their feather plumes dry…


Often the dryer weather with sunshine becomes the hope and aspiration...

...yet there is also a lot to be said for the beauty of the wet weather- especially during the milder, showery interval days when the magnolia trees are in full bloom… 

Feeling the rain on your skin and running through your hair as you cycle along can become the moments that make you feel most alive… 

...maybe it’s the sense of freedom it evokes because convention would usually urge us to hide away from it.  Or maybe it’s because of the way we keep calm and pedal on, no matter what the elements throw at us, knowing we’ll be dry again soon…

Yet in addition to this it’s also about something else, especially when behind the handlebars…

The smell of the wet tarmac as it mixes with the warmer air. That distinct smell of greenery, as the grass and foliage become sodden- creating smells that you wouldn’t usually stop to notice unless one day they weren’t there anymore…    

The moments when the canopies of the flowering magnolia trees- now covered in starburst shaped petals which graduate beautifully from a deep magenta centre to a soft delicate pink, before further blending to an ice white around the edges- give us shelter along with the meditating sounds of the rain they shield us from, if we decide to pause mid-journey…

...and if we do, observing the micro-magnifying glass lenses created by the droplets of rain, which rest on carpets of fallen petals covering the ground beneath their sheltering branches, it’s impossible not to stop and marvel at the journey the much-loved magnolia has been on…


Having been found in fossils which date back over 100 million years, we now know the magnolia tree is one of the world’s oldest flowering species…

Just to put that into perspective, that’s when the world's continents looked very different, and a hot house climate created a world of extremes, between dense jungle and Sahara desert-like terrains.  It’s also over 97 million years before the most recent ice age started and 17 million years before the t-rex dinosaur existed…


The humble magnolia has seen it’s fair share of world events and different weather fronts to say the least.  Yet, never missing a beat, year after year, it puts on it’s majestic flowering display for the world to see…

What’s even more incredible about this plant is how it’s barely changed in all those years. Quietly robust, as it roots itself into the small corners of our front gardens and communal spaces, silently it stands testament to the definition of resilience…

In these inevitably awe-inspiring moments, we are reminded of the need to both celebrate and protect the wonders of our natural earth in equal measure…


So if considered in the right way, the wet weather can feel revitalising, as well as the very thing that gives us the rolling green landscapes with the abundance of wild flowers we all adore and travel to during our bicycle adventures...


And on that note, here’s…


Four Cycle Pretty Things To Do For a Showery, Magnolia-Filled April…


1.  Forage for Fallen Magnolia Petals

An activity that takes mindfulness to a whole new level, it empties the mind when placing all focus on filling your bicycle basket with these beautiful magenta, sea shell-shaped cups...


So not to disrupt the delicate eco system which relies on the living flowers as they bloom in our parks and the wild, foraging instead for the fallen petals works with nature in a way that still gives it the chance to thrive...




As you do so, look for the petals which have most recently dropped- and therefore haven't had long to rest on the ground. By doing so you will be able to forage petals without any slug or snail traces, or before they develop any significant browning when the petals are still crisp and fresh...


As precious as pieces of leaf gold, it's hard not to get excited when picking up each petal, as the multitude of home crafts which lies at your fingertips with these beautiful flowers inevitably comes to mind...





2. Make Magnolia Syrup

With the petals you have foraged during your bicycle adventures, turn them into a syrup which can be put to use in so many recipes afterwards...


Also knowing you are working with a completely natural product that you yourself have gathered in itself is so satisfying...


First start by soaking the petals in salted water to help remove any dirt and kill any bad bacteria...


Then rinse off each petal under the running cold tap...


Next, add the washed petals to a saucepan with 3-4 cups of water and the same quantity of caster sugar...


Leave to simmer for 20 minutes, allowing it to gradually come up to the boil...





Then strain out the petals from the syrup and store in a clean, sterilised bottle.


For this I just used an old red wine vinegar bottle, but you could always buy a Kilner bottle with the traditional rubber cap for extra finesse if you wanted to.


For labels, any off cuts of pretty wallpaper or wrapping paper are perfect for this...


To write the label I used my Japanese glass dipping pen, which very fittingly for the season has a cherry blossom design in it :) and I used the pink ink... of course... :)





3. Make Candied Magnolia Petals

If you manage to find near-perfect petals during your bicycle foraging escapades, these are the ones you want to keep to one side for this...



An innovative way of preserve these petals, which can otherwise start to brown and wilt very quickly, it makes for a gorgeously sweet gingery addition to the pantry cupboard...


Using a food safe paint brush, carefully apply a layer of egg white all over, being mindful to handle them delicately so not to crease them and cause any browning...


Next, dip them in a bowl of caster sugar until they are fully coated...

Then place them on a baking tray, lined with a sheet of baking paper, and leave to air until they become crisp.



4. Make Magnolia Drizzle Cake


Fling open the windows and doors, let the spray of the rain come into the kitchen as it bounces back up off the ground or window ledges, and pass the time away baking to the meditating sounds of the April showers as they pass overhead...


Incorporating the magnolia syrup and candied magnolia petals into this recipe creates a light, moist cake with a subtle floral flavour somewhere between ginger and old fashioned cola cube sweets, which trust me, is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING...



First start whisking the eggs until they are as light as a cloud...


Then, beat the room temperature butter and slowly incorporate the magnolia syrup (about half a cup)...


Once the syrup and butter are combined, add in the other usual sponge ingredients...

When everything is combined, add to one large loaf tin for a traditional sized and shaped drizzle cake, or split into smaller sponge tins. My personal preference is smaller tins because you can freeze batches of cakes until you're ready to eat them...


...Therefore meaning nothing goes to waste, and you can always have something on standby ready for any unexpected visitors.


When you're ready to decorate, skewer holes throughout the top of the sponge and slowly drizzle over more of the syrup and leave to soak for ten minutes...


Then... you guessed it! Make up the icing with more of the syrup and a touch of pink food colouring before pouring over the cake...


Then add a few of the candied magnolia petals as a finishing touch...



In the Florist Parlour

In honour of this amazing plant, we're so excited to bring to you the Magnolia Moments Flower Collection!


Centred around the use of both magnolia and blossom branches, as their blooms surround us from the canopies of their trees during this time of year, they are combined with a variety of pastel coloured spring flowers traditionally synonymous with this time of year... 

Designed in the natural garden style, seasonal scented flowers create that familiar fresh air smell of springtime...


In the Cycle Pretty Boutique

In the true spirit of April, this Fable England lightweight scarf repeats the print of a Peacock sitting amongst magnolia blooms and spring blossoms...

Displaying the intricate splendour of it's tail, an array of pastel coloured splashes come through whichever way you chose to arrange it...

Made from recycled fibres , this versatile scarf can be wrapped around the head to avoid helmet hair, as much as it can be draped around the shoulders as an extra layer on a summer's evening...


From April's Book Corner Club…

From our bookshelf collection of Canterbury Classics this month, we bring to you a review of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett...

A product of her environment, nine year old Mary is a very unwanted daughter shunned by her socialite mother and career driven father, whose role in the English government leads to a move over to India where the family have settled. Often avoided by her teachers and servants, Mary is often described as a 'sour' and 'ugly' child...

"My word! She's a plain piece of goods!... And we'd heard her mother was such a beauty..."

Having never been shown any love, Mary struggles to muster up any empathy or affection. Becoming so conditioned to her circumstances, she too accepts herself as the child she is perceived as...

"It is the child no one ever saw!... She has actually been forgotten!"

Then one morning, Mary's life is turned upside down as a fatal cholera outbreak leaves her deserted, being the sole survivor in her village...

“She took a long breath and looked behind her up the long walk to see if anyone was coming. No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed, and she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly- slowly...”


Suddenly Mary finds herself aboard a ship, bound for a life in the Yorkshire Moors at Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven. Here she befriends a robin, who leads her to the magical wonders of an abandoned walled garden, cloaked in overgrown ivy.

Soon a friendship with the local Yorkshire folk and a relationship with her newly discovered garden begin to warm her soul, and she begins to experience happiness for the very first time....


"Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow"

This is a story well known for focusing on the healing power of nature and also the importance of mindset. But furthermore, it's also about the way the human condition is predetermined by the environment someone finds themselves in.


This book tugs on the heart because you're following the journey of a lost little girl, whose true potential was there all along, but just needed coaxing out of her in the right way...


Wishing you all a showery, magnolia-filled April... We can't wait to meet you back here again in May! Xxx



















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