To celebrate British Flowers Week, Charlotte Smith and Anita Rani look at the resurgence of British flowers. Charlotte finds out why the smell of flowers is so popular.
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A place where unusual livestock graze...
..and there are farms that grow flowers...
..where smugglers once roamed
and giant arrows point the way.
Hampshire is more curious than you think.
Yes, today I'm going to be heading to a farm where water buffalo
is knocking beef off the menu...
Look at that! The noise!
..and I'll be trying on a blooming lovely headdress.
-That looks so great.
-Yeah, it really does.
Tom's looking at how our seas are protected
and why some scientists believe a lot more should be done...
So have the Marine Conservation Zones delivered anything?
I mean, the promise is that they are protecting
wildlife in the sea, that they're going to recover the state
of the marine environment,
but at the moment they're completely useless.
..and it's shearing time down on Adam's farm.
This doesn't hurt the sheep at all.
It's a bit like having a massage, really, I think.
Acre upon acre of verdant pasture,
silky, shivering rivers and lots of trees.
Hampshire, renowned for the beauty of the New Forest and its ponies.
I'm at Fordingbridge, at the western edge of the forest...
..where ponies have roamed freely for centuries.
There's around 3,000 ponies living in the forest
and they are relics of a bygone age.
See you later.
Once these ponies were the main means of transport throughout
the county, carrying goods and people
and powering the local economy.
The days of the packhorse may be long gone,
but Gale Gould is keen to revive the tradition
and she's doing it with the help of her own trusty packhorse, Josh.
How on earth did you and Josh end up doing this, then?
When did it all start?
Well, I bought Josh three years ago.
One of my dogs was very arthritic and I couldn't
take him for walks and I thought,
"Well, I'll take the pony for a walk."
And then it kind of grew from there because I thought, "Well, if he's
"coming for a walk, he might as well carry things,"
and it just kind of snowballed.
So what kind of things do you move with him, then?
In their day, the packhorses that would have been
used on the forest would have carried all sorts.
-They were the 4x4s or pick-up trucks of their day.
I'll tell you what, let's just stop for a second and have a look
because it's some kit that you've got on here.
Where does this come from?
I actually got this from America
because it's really big business out there. People go wild camping.
Do you know what? You could carry our cameras, maybe a tripod.
He'd do that, he would do that.
You would be a brilliant addition to our Countryfile crew, I think.
But back in the day, what would have been a typical
day for a packhorse in the New Forest?
The packhorses would have carried all sorts of goods.
The commoners would have used them for carrying turfs and heather
and they'd have also been used to transport goods to market.
Come on, Josh.
Good, honest work, but the packhorses were also used
by less scrupulous people - smugglers.
For centuries, smuggling was a way of life,
conducted under the cover of night and away from the eyes of the law,
as in the poem A Smuggler's Song by Rudyard Kipling.
Five and twenty ponies, trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the parson, 'baccy for the clerk.
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentleman go by.
-Well, how rife was smuggling, Gale?
-Everyone was doing it.
And some of the gangs would have been folk heroes.
-And they'd have used their ponies.
Oh, hang on, the brakes are on. What's happening, Josh?
You see, this is another thing.
You get at one - don't you? - with the landscape that's around you,
because his kind of instinct and his senses, he just suddenly stops
and looks and then everybody's like, "Oh, hang on, what's happening?"
So you really get in tune.
Well, Josh, while you've stopped for a little nibble,
I'm imagining now, as far as the smugglers are concerned,
this rig just rammed with stuff. What would've been in here?
What contraband are we talking about?
So it would have been luxury items and, in those days,
luxury items were brandy, lace, tobacco, tea and coffee.
OK, OK, and what kind of numbers are we talking about?
I mean, how many people were involved with this?
It was widespread.
There was one news report I found where there were 500 packponies
that were being used to carry contraband from the coast
through the forest to be dispersed to the towns inland.
Surely they'd have got caught!
I mean, if you're talking that kind of numbers,
how come they didn't get caught?
There were very few customs men to actually patrol these areas
and they had whole coastlines to patrol.
And am I right in saying that they were quite canny
as far as storytelling is concerned?
One of the favourite places for hiding contraband were churchyards,
so the smugglers would encourage tales of coaches
-being drawn by headless horseman.
-To scare people, then?
If they heard noises.
So you wouldn't have looked out of your windows
if you heard the sound of horse hooves late at night.
But also it was a way that they could talk about what
they had seen if they had seen something.
So they could sit in the pubs and talk about ghost stories.
Must be a few in the New Forest now, those ghost stories.
-Oh, there certainly are.
-All them years.
-There certainly are.
Right, then, have you finished?
-Not quite. Let's crack on.
-A few mouthfuls.
Do you always carry a bottle of brandy just in homage?
Yeah, only for medicinal purposes, though.
Right, great, we'll look for that
and we'll stop in about another half a mile.
By the 19th century, the smugglers' days were up.
The newly formed Coastguard service clamped down hard
and cuts in taxation made smuggling unprofitable.
The smugglers and their dark deeds melted into history.
Well, we've now been inundated by donkeys.
This is a perfect example about what you were saying, Gale, of...
All the inquisitive characters that live around here
-want to come and say hello.
-They do, they do.
Have you come over cos you can smell brandy in those panniers?
Josh used to be a free-roaming pony himself,
so maybe these are friends from the past.
Quite possibly, quite possibly. He has got quite a few friends.
Yeah, that's lovely. Happy to go? All right, then.
It must be quite nice cos you're walking at a pace that is
very accessible for people to enquire about what's going on.
It's amazing. We walk so slowly, people actually overtake us.
Well, this is certainly a pleasant way to explore the landscape -
strolling through the countryside with a real local for company...
of the four-legged variety.
Seven years ago, the idea of Marine Conservation Zones was
introduced to try and help to protect Britain's seas.
So why is it some of the scientists that were involved are saying
that it's just not working? Tom's been finding out.
The dramatic edge between land and sea.
From chalky coral beds to luscious kelp forests, our waters
are home to some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world.
And that sea life is so important,
the government has spent the past seven years
and more than £10 million establishing
a network of protected marine areas.
But critics say they're just an expensive paper exercise that
has left our marine environments at greater risk than before.
Currently, Marine Conservation Zones, or MCZs, are being set up
to protect a range of nationally important wildlife and habitats.
Initially, 127 sites were identified as being important.
So far, though, only 50 have been established, covering nearly
8,000 square miles, including this - a rather stormy Holderness coast.
The final zones will be worked out next year.
But while the zones were being set up,
an open letter was sent to the government, saying the plans
had fallen well short of the original aims
and would not deliver the protection needed for marine life.
It was signed by 82 academics,
five of whom were the government's own advisers.
Three years on and, with more zones in place,
those advisers still say not enough has changed and that is partly
because hardly any of these areas have regulations to govern them.
One of those advisers, Professor Callum Roberts,
says the MCZs are worse than useless.
-Have the Marine Conservation Zones delivered anything?
The promise is that they are protecting wildlife in the sea,
that they are going to recover the state of the marine environment,
that it is going to improve a lot of things,
but at the moment they are completely useless
because they give the illusion of protection in its complete absence.
They are just paper parks. There is no new management in them at all.
There is no protection that has been implemented.
We've got lots of lines on the map.
And what would you like to see that actually would
protect marine life?
Well, I think we could rescue this whole process of protecting life
by genuinely closing them to the major fisheries.
If you protect them from bottom trawling and scallop dredging,
that will go a long way to seeing the recovery of life
that used to be there.
Professor Roberts thinks fishing bans,
or no-take zones, as they are known in the industry,
are the answer.
The plans originally included reference areas,
where fishing would be completely banned.
Those reference areas would've been the backbone of the whole system,
-but they were dropped at the first hurdle by the government.
I think because of pressure from the fishing industry.
They didn't want to put any in place that would protect
the sea from all fishing.
Whether or not the government bowed to that pressure,
Marine Conservation Zones are being established.
The zones and their Scottish equivalents so far cover 9%
of our seas, including and bordering many of our fishing grounds.
But that is causing difficulties for fishermen as well.
Paul Trebilcock is from the National Federation Of Fishermen's Organisations.
At the moment, there are no management measures for this MCZ
so you can do exactly the same on both sides of the boundary.
The biggest problem is uncertainty.
Because the managers haven't come forward with the management measures so we don't know what will
and what will not be managed, restricted in these areas,
that creates problems and uncertainty,
which no business likes.
And Paul is hopeful that, when regulations are put in place,
fishing will still be allowed in MCZs.
Fishing CAN be compatible with the marine environment.
But it so often isn't compatible.
No, but I think we have to recognise that in many cases it IS compatible.
Many of these MCZs, the features and marine environment within them,
are in favourable or excellent condition.
That means that fishing
and marine environmental protection are not mutually exclusive.
What for you is the sort of nightmare scenario
in terms of what could come in?
I think the doomsday scenario
would be a complete restriction of fishing.
Hopefully we are not going to the doomsday scenario.
I think that would be a negative, not only for the fishing industry
but actually for the marine environment.
But Paul does realise some restrictions may be necessary.
I think there would have to be strong evidence.
And if that evidence was there that it would benefit not only
the marine environment but the fishing industry,
then of course we would have to consider that.
So, fishermen and academics agree that MCZs are not currently working
but the idea of no-take zones are a bit more divisive.
Lyme Bay, off the Dorset coast.
A 60-square-mile stretch of these inshore waters is designated
a Marine Nature Reserve.
And here, unlike in most Marine Conservation Zones,
there ARE fishing restrictions,
something that scientists say are vital for the survival of sea life.
A fishing ban was introduced here in 2008,
stopping scallop dredging and bottom trawling to help
protect its reef habitat, though some pot fishing is still allowed.
And a study run by Plymouth University
is monitoring the impact of those restrictions on the reef.
Adam Rees is showing me the results.
-You can see here we've got some cobble reef...
..but you can see there's not really much growing on it -
there's not many... what we class as reef features.
I can see a sort of rubbly seabed here,
but, yeah, not a lot of growth.
So, what about after we've brought in the restrictions on fishing?
So, this is footage taken a few years later,
and so things have had a chance to grow,
so, you can see here, sort of pink sea fans,
many reef features that we were trying to protect
within this area are now starting to recover,
and you can see there's a high abundance of them.
And how's it been going? What's the result?
Well, it's been really positive.
Many of the inshore fishermen here
are starting to see increases in their catch,
in terms of crab and lobster, species such as bass and cod
are starting to see real benefits in this protected area.
But, broadly, does this feel like that Holy Grail,
sustainable fishery, to you?
I think that this area is really showing
that you can protect an area,
and you can actually have benefits for fishermen
and the wider community.
We're starting to see that the fish are coming back,
and that we actually are benefitting the local community
rather than just the ecology as a whole.
With our seawaters facing competing demands from the fishing industry
and the environmental lobby,
protecting our coastal waters will always be contentious.
Ultimately, it falls to the government
to strike the right balance, and MCZ's a part of their solution -
but one that, at the moment, both sides agree,
falls well short of the mark.
The fisheries minister was unable to talk to us,
but his office did give us a statement.
It's three years since the first MCZs were established,
but we still don't know all the regulations that will govern them,
or the impact, if any, they'll have on our marine life.
Without new fishing rules,
Marine Conservation Zones are toothless, and largely pointless.
The hard choices deciding the fate of our fish
and fishermen are still to come.
Now, this week is British Flowers Week,
and to mark it, Charlotte is on a farm
where everything is coming up roses.
This is Morton Farm, deep in the Hampshire countryside...
..but this is a farm with a difference,
because while they do grow food, they also grow flowers.
Flowers were first planted here on the family farm in 1995.
Since then, they've been slowly but surely encroaching
on the 500 acres of more traditional wheat and other crops.
It's all down to the aptly named Rosebie Morton,
whose British flower business is...blooming.
Lots of people diversify, Rosebie,
but very few go into something as tricky as flowers -
so, what made you do that?
It was through frustration, basically, because, you know,
you'd walk into a flower shop, and you couldn't smell anything,
but I could remember my mother's and my grandmother's gardens -
you know, walking along and really smelling roses.
So, I wanted to start growing roses, which had the scent,
-and that's where it all started from.
-Well, let's see if you've succeeded.
That does smell lovely, actually.
Why, then, does that rose smell
and many of the other ones that people buy don't, really?
It's all down to variety,
and what the breeders did, some years back,
was to breed for longevity or colour or vigour,
whereas we have gone the other way,
and we're growing something - we're growing garden roses,
and I have chosen varieties which have got serious scent.
And that's all it comes down to.
But at the same time, these are very difficult to grow!
So, you've got to be slightly crazy.
When Rosebie first started 20 years ago,
flower traders told her she was bonkers.
Customers, though, disagreed - and her heavily scented roses sold well.
So well that, now, 12 acres of the best wheat fields
have been replanted with flowers.
But a rose isn't just a rose -
they all look different and smell different.
Talking roses is a bit like talking about wine.
Earthy, bold - something for every nose.
So, we've got Margaret Merril here,
which is this ivory one.
-That is one of the best scents there is.
That is, sort of, quintessential English rose, it really is.
And then we've got Paisley Abbey there.
This is classic, isn't it?
A classic red rose for romance.
A typical red rose for romance.
-How about this one?
-This one is really quite a winey scent.
You really get the sort of real intensity to it.
-Chandos Beauty, which is this one...
..it actually comes - its parent was Margaret Merril,
-so you pick up a bit of that same citrus.
-It's a bit like boiled sweets, or something.
-Yeah, slightly sherbety.
-Yep, I think you pass the test beautifully!
Altogether, then, how many different types of roses are you growing?
So, we're growing about 24 different types,
that we're actually cutting from now, as we speak,
but we've also got about 20-30 trials that we're doing,
because you've always got to be finding new scents, new colours,
new roses - or new to us, anyway.
And you grow other flowers as well.
Very much so, because the bouquets aren't just about the roses -
although that's a main ingredient -
they're also about lots of other flowers and foliage
with texture and scent, et cetera, to make up a bouquet.
Each bouquet, then, is an assault on the senses.
Very much so. I mean, you open up a box of our flowers,
and the scent just hits you, and you go, "Wow! That is a proper rose."
There is a resurgence of interest in British flowers,
but they're only a tiny fraction of the blooms we buy every year.
We import flowers from around the world,
meaning we can have year-round bouquets,
but the British flower market is now just 10% of what it was
in its 1970s heyday.
This week, though, growers are mounting a fightback,
with British Flowers Week
and Rosebie has an experiment she's taking to the streets of London...
..capturing on camera people's reactions
as her bouquet's rich smells hit them for the first time.
-So, now you really can smell the bouquet.
-Are you ready?
Yeah - I'm going to get your reaction.
That is amazing.
There are so many smells in just the one...
It's just taken me, actually, back to being a bridesmaid -
and my cousin Joanne and I had pom-poms made of sweet peas.
-And I would have been, I don't know, six, eight?
-Something like that, yeah.
-That's amazing, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
What's happening, then, when we're hit by a beautiful scent?
I've called in Dr Lorenzo Stafford - an expert in our sense of smell.
Lorenzo, why are these scents, these flower scents, so evocative?
I think, as with all odours,
and the way it's processed in the brain,
it's the closest to the emotional part of the brain.
It's also very close to the hippocampus,
which is involved in memory.
And it's taking us back to when we remember that smell from.
and there's something called the reminiscence bump...
-The reminiscence bump?
-Yeah, it's a great name!
So, this is the idea that our strongest,
most evocative memories are sort of laid down in adolescence,
but, for whatever reason, memories associated with smell
come a lot earlier - typically about six or seven years of age,
but when we experience odours later on in life,
we kind of have that trigger,
that moment where it brings us right back
to the original time they were experienced.
-And, in fact, Rosebie, that's what you found, isn't it?
-When people smell these roses.
-Very much so.
I mean, it must be the most used expression I hear - you know,
you put a rose under somebody's nose, and they go, "Wow!
"That just takes me back to my grandmother's, or mother's garden,"
-They can't believe it.
It works for my generation, because I can remember roses in the garden,
but it's not going to work for lots of kids now.
My children, in their cars, they've got this stinking air freshener -
you know, we want some natural, proper scents, like roses.
Smell for yourself -
growers around the country are taking part in British Flowers Week.
But this lot is destined for the city.
From the fields of Hampshire...
..to the heart of London.
A good proportion of Rosebie's flowers come here,
to New Covent Garden Flower Market,
the only dedicated wholesale flower and plant market in the country.
It's six o'clock in the morning, and the place is buzzing.
There are buyers and sellers and flowers from all over the country,
like these stocks from Cambridgeshire,
which don't just look beautiful...
they smell divine.
And whether they're from Sussex or the Scillies,
Norfolk or Guernsey, they're a riot of colour and scent.
There are flowers here from all over the world,
but it's the UK flowers that are really creating the buzz.
And they're championed by two stalwarts of the market -
Mick Waite of Pratley Flowers...
and Graeme Diplock from Zest.
Why do you specialise in British flowers?
The flowers are picked literally a day, two days ago -
they're as fresh as you're going to get, and they're local.
There's varieties of flowers you don't get in Holland or Colombia,
or wherever you want to be.
Everything's a little bit late, cos of the little cold spring we had,
so I'm about three weeks behind where I should be.
Sweet Williams have just started.
So, where are these from?
-These are Spalding.
So, they've not come too far. Look at that!
So, all these little buds, here,
they'll all open up into a little flower like this.
That is absolutely gorgeous -
and how long will the season for these Sweet Williams last?
That will go on for about eight weeks.
People would rather buy British flowers.
It's like with the food - everybody wants British local food,
they want local produce, so, yeah, it's great.
-I'm passionate about what I do.
So, if I can promote English flowers,
it's something we're good at, why not do it?
Look at the green fields we've got.
Why not do what we're good at?
Last year, more than 220,000 boxes of flowers,
worth around £56 million, passed through the market.
Buyers come here from all over the country,
from supermarkets, hotel chains and specialist florists,
like Ellie Jauncey and Anna Day,
who've turned a passion for flowers into a business.
As it's British Flowers Week,
I've asked Anna and Ellie to come up with something
a little out of the ordinary to mark the occasion.
-How are you doing?
Oh, look at these fantastic flowers!
What is it about British bloom?
I know the two of you particularly like using British flowers,
-don't you - why?
-There's something about them -
they've just got a different quality, we think,
to imported flowers.
They often have a really lovely scent.
Flowers that have come from really far away can lose their scent a bit.
The other thing about British flowers
is, this is very different from what you see at the rest of the market.
The kind of cultivated flowers from further afield
wouldn't travel so well.
The delicacy and the lightness and the bounce that they have
is like a different feel to cultivated flowers, I think.
So, what's the plan?
We thought we'd show you how to make
your very own British flower headdress
using all these wonderful British flowers.
What do we need to pick for this wonderful headdress?
Well, let's just choose a selection of anything you like the look of.
I'm choosing sweet peas that smell divine,
dramatic gouda rose,
some vibrant campion,
and delicate scilla.
All British, and mostly from Rosebie.
I'm going to feel like I'm in A Midsummer Night's Dream, aren't I?
-Shall we head back?
Let's get creating.
Just as the rest of the city's getting up for work,
we're off to Anna and Ellie's studio
and I can't believe the riot of colour and scent
that hits my senses.
This floral headdress is going to be something else.
These are all the things that you need -
so, we're going to start with this little allium.
I'm going to go for a bit of gouda.
I might go for one of those, as well, then.
-So, then you put you first flower there...
..and fix it on nice and tight...
-..and go down kind of at a slight diagonal...
..and then you go back up again.
This is really therapeutic!
I'm really enjoying myself!
It's hard to work and talk
but we find there's often silence in our workshops.
"Oh, gosh is everyone having a good time?" And then we look around and
everyone is so consumed with what they're doing.
That's a good one.
-You need one more. Do you want a gouda?
Let's finish the way we started.
-So, which way does it go?
-That looks so great.
-Yeah, it really does.
Have a look in the mirror.
It's really pretty. Yours is gorgeous. I love it.
You can enjoy flowers not just in a vase, you can
get out into your garden and make a headdress. It's easy.
I'm walking the old pack horse trails through
the New Forest in Hampshire.
There's beauty at every turn and surprises too.
Like this gigantic arrow.
But why is it here?
Well, the answer lies in the Second World War.
Back then the New Forest was one huge practice range for the RAF.
This arrow, and markers like it all across the forest,
pointed the way for pilots carrying one devastating weapon,
the earthquake bomb.
In the final days of the war, before the atom bomb was dropped,
the 22,000lb earthquake bomb
was the most destructive weapon to be deployed.
But before it could be used in war, it had to be tested at home.
They were designed to be dropped
from very high altitudes in order to build speed as they fell.
Upon impact they would penetrate deep into the ground sending
severe shock waves through the earth.
The tremendous explosion sends up a column of earth
and smoke like a great inverted mountain.
The arrow was vital in guiding the pilots to the practice targets
and even today you can see evidence in the landscape of where
those bombs dropped. And, Gail, even though
they were practice bombs, they still had some impact, didn't they?
Yes, one of the locals was telling me that the biggest bomb that
was ever detonated over British soil was detonated here.
And the villagers locally were told to keep their windows
and doors open because of the shock wave
but apparently they forgot to tell people in Fordingbridge and...
Right. What happened?
Apparently people's windows and doors imploded
and someone's roof fell down.
-So it must have packed a real punch.
The craters left behind by the blasts filled with water.
Out of the destruction came hundreds of little ponds.
Over time, nature has reclaimed them, adding to the diversity
of the forest habitat and creating the perfect watering holes for Josh.
You can have a little drink here.
Each year in the UK we produce nearly 30,000 tonnes of wool.
Shearing is one of the busiest times in the farming calendar
and Adam is just getting started.
As the temperatures start to warm up the sheep on the farm no
longer need their winter woolly coats.
They can get undressed for the summer.
We've got 650 sheep that all need shearing over the next few weeks.
Keeping their woolly coats on for too long can cause health problems.
So in the lead up to shearing we keep a close eye on them.
We check around all our livestock every day
and, at this time of year,
we have to be particularly vigilant with the sheep.
You can see on this ewe here where the wool
is starting to come away from her neck.
The old fleece is breaking away from the new one
and she'll start to get really itchy.
Let me show you how serious this can be.
What happens when they've got a full fleece like this
is they start scratching and they lie down and they scratch
and scratch and then they roll onto their backs and as the wool
is such a weight it holds them down and they get stuck like that.
And then their stomachs swell up, put pressure on their lungs
and they die.
So she's now lost. She can't get back up.
The heavier the fleece, the bigger the problem.
If you're driving around the countryside or walking on the
hills and you see a sheep stuck on its back,
do the farmer a favour and just roll it back onto its feet, hold
it steady for a little while while it steadies itself
and then it will run away. You'll save the animal's life.
Come on, missus.
This flock won't need shearing for another week or so,
but I'm ready to get started on some of my other sheep.
Time to don the non-slip shearing shoes.
Come on, missus. Out you come.
The skill of shearing...
..is really about handling the sheep.
They don't like being handled so you twist the heads and
sit them down. And then you get them into the correct position.
Get them comfortable. You can then use your hands to move the shears.
This doesn't hurt the sheep at all.
It's just like having your hair cut with clippers at the barbers.
So it's got a comb and a cutter
and it basically just slides over the surface of the sheep's skin,
combing in all the fibres of the wool and then clipping it off.
It's a bit like having a massage really, I think.
It takes quite a long time
and a lot of practice to become a professional shearer.
And you can go on shearing courses in this country
and the skill is not only holding the sheep still
but trying to get the fleece off all in one piece.
That's really important because if it comes off as one then it can be
graded as an individual fleece and you get more money for it.
There we are. That's her done. Shorn for this year.
The world record for shearing a sheep is something like 38 seconds.
Takes me three or four minutes.
It takes even longer with some of my woollier breeds.
The Dartmoor fleece is really lovely. It's beautiful wool.
The warmth from her body will warm up the air in between all
those little fibres.
And it's covered in this grease that keeps them dry, just sheds water.
So it's like wearing a greasy duvet all day long which is
why at this time of year they're delighted to get rid of it.
It wasn't very long ago that wool was valueless.
It cost more to pay a shearer to get the wool off the sheep's back
than the fleece was actually worth.
And you pay the shearer about £1.50 and then you've got to pay
the diesel to get it to the Wool Marketing Board.
It was such a shame. Back then some people were burning their wool.
Now the price has lifted a bit, which is a good thing.
But there's still the huge variance
in the quality of the different breeds.
So if you take a Herdwick here, they've got very coarse wool
that's not worth very much, about 25p a kilo. And it's quite light.
This is probably only a couple of kilos so this fleece is worth 50p.
So hardly worth shearing,
whereas this Dartmoor fleece is much better quality.
This is worth about 80 pence a kilo and there's a lot more wool here.
Dartmoor wool is quite heavy, this is about six kilos.
So that's worth about £4.50 to a fiver.
So really I can make money out of this. But not out of this.
Over the years,
some farmers have given up on wool completely.
In the 1960s one farmer had the bright idea to breed
Easy Care Sheep that don't need shearing.
They shed their fleece naturally so don't get stuck on their backs.
My neighbour Tanya Robbins has been selectively breeding
some into her own flock.
-How are you doing?
These look lovely. How long have you had Easy Care Sheep?
-About five or six years.
-And why did you decide to have these?
The fact that they shed their own wool
we weren't really making any money out of the wool.
It cost us more for the shearers than we'd get for the wool
so that's why we started to look at them.
So as far as the management of them goes for their fleece,
you just leave them, do you?
Yes. Yeah, that's right. You can see it starts this time of year.
As I look at them it looks like they're taking their jackets off.
It starts under their necks so bits start coming off.
Do you mind it dropping out all over the fields? Does that bother you?
No, it doesn't bother me.
The fact that they don't lose it all in one go,
it comes out in bits and some days you might look
and I think, "Oh, dear, there's a bit of wool here."
And then you see the birds come down and pick a bit off and
-line their nests with it.
-It's quite lovely.
And are their any disadvantages?
One is you go to grab your sheep...
And all of the sudden all you're left with is a bit of wool.
Nothing to get hold of. And that's it, apart from that you love them?
I can certainly see the advantages of Easy Care Sheep
and you can't deny the cost savings.
But I really want to continue supporting the wool industry,
it's such a lovely product.
I just wish it was worth a little bit more.
Our Herdwick wool is where we make the least money.
So I'm keen to see
if there's any other way to use it that might turn a profit.
Justin and Hannah Floyd are from the Solid Wool Company.
What they do is in the name - they've invented a unique
and top secret way to solidify wool to make furniture.
-Hi, Adam. Nice to meet you.
Thanks very much for bringing this out here.
This is made from wool?
This is made from 50% Herdwick wool from the Lake District
and the rest is bioresin
so it's a composite material made from rough coarse Lakeland wool.
I didn't imagine it to look like this at all. It's incredible.
I thought it was going to be all prickly and felt-y.
It's extraordinary to think you've gone from this to this.
Herdwick wool is very coarse and rough and wiry.
And we found that it makes a great reinforcement.
The coarseness of the wool is strong, the wiriness means it adheres
to the resin well, allows us to make a really strong reinforcement.
-I'm really impressed. Is it popular?
-Yeah, it's been incredible.
We've had interest from across the world, from the automotive
industry to the surf industry.
We've sent chairs to San Francisco, to New York and Europe
and even up to the Lake District so it's come full circle.
What's your background? How did you get into this?
I'm a product design engineer by profession and Hannah is marketing.
And we started the business in our hometown in Buckfastleigh to try
and find a way of bringing manufacturing back into the town
-and supporting the local farmers.
-It's a great story.
It's lovely for British wool.
It is and that's one of the things we're trying to do is to take
these rough, coarse wools which are undervalued
and almost a waste material.
If this really takes off it has potential to change
the value off what is the lowest value wool in the UK at the moment.
That's just fantastic.
-Can I have a sit down?
Sitting on a chair like this and knowing it has
come from Herdwick wool of the Lakeland fells is great.
We've taken the unwanted and turned it into something beautiful.
-I can see why she's in marketing...
-You're selling it to me.
In fact we could get a cup of tea and some sandwiches
-and have a bit of a picnic.
It's great to see such exciting innovation.
Let's hope it can help play a part
in bringing a new lease of life to the British wool industry.
The slow-moving River Test is one of Hampshire's great chalk streams.
So calm and clear, isn't it?
But don't be fooled by that sleepy surface
because beneath it there lies real power.
Power that in the past drove the wheels of industry.
And here in Whitchurch it's harnessed still to make silk.
So it's important to control the speed of the water
and that's a job for Sue Tapliss.
There are several sluices she can raise
and lower to keep the wheel running at a constant speed.
Just as it has done since the 1880s.
So we need to lower these sluices. So if you want to wind that down.
OK. Here we go.
Whoo! My right bicep is getting a great workout.
This is now backing up,
creating a head of water underneath the water wheel sluice.
-And that's how they control the power?
The power provided by the river is what brought the mill here.
Silk-makers moved out of London in the early 19th century
when the cost of production in the city rocketed.
Back then, as now, the raw material for silk production came from China.
Richard Humphries has been weaving silk for 50 years. Hello, Richard.
And is a member of the Worshipful Company of Weavers,
the very oldest of the City of London's guilds.
-Where does silk come from?
-This is the cocoon
from the Bombyx mori silk worm.
And this is native to China
and there's up to one mile of continuous filament silk
on that cocoon.
And you put this in hot, soapy water,
and gradually you can start to unravel it.
Let me get my head around this, Richard.
-So that is the origin of silk...
-That's your lovely silk saris
and blouses are made from this very insect's life's toil.
But who on earth saw that
and figured out that you could make silk from that?
The Empress Xi Lingshi, 5,000 years ago.
So legend would have it
she was sitting underneath a white mulberry tree
and one of these plopped into her tea and she realised
that the silk thread was just floating on top of her tea.
And as she started to pull,
the cocoon began to unravel,
and it is said there and then, that was the silk industry invented.
-It's a wonderful story.
Once the raw silk thread is obtained it's turned into fabric
using the original 19th-century machinery,
much of which is still powered by the waterwheel.
This mill was operating commercially right up to 1985.
It's now a museum, although it's now making top-quality fabric.
It's a painstaking process.
First, the long, slender threads are loaded onto bobbins.
These bobbins are then arranged in the right order,
and then passed through three combs,
each one finer than the one before,
a job that needs a keen eye and a nifty touch.
So if you put the tool in from this side...
I'm just taking it all in, because that is so thin,
and there's already so many threads. You need really good eyesight,
you need nimble fingers,
and presumably back in the day
-you'd have to work very fast as well.
Now, I thought I had 20/20 vision,
but now I can see... OK, here we go.
-That one. There we go. We're in.
-Just pull that.
-Just pull and it comes through.
-There we go. Ha-hey!
This is really labour-intensive,
time-consuming, intricate work.
-You can really appreciate why it's such a luxury.
Next, the fine strands are wound twice
before they're finally ready for transferring to the loom.
This is where the magic happens.
The threads become fabric.
-Can we switch it on?
-So if we get our ear defenders ready...
-Is it that loud?
Yes. It is very loud.
-So how did they communicate back in the day?
-They learned to lip-read.
Really? So they'd just mouth to each other across the room?
"Cup of tea?"!
All right, let's try it, then.
Ear defenders on.
Oh, yeah, that's seriously loud!
So I'm just looking out for any broken threads...
Can't hear a word you're saying!
-You're looking out for what?
She's looking out for any broken threads!
It's working really fast!
The shuttle pulls a single thread through the others
100 times a minute -
so fast we need to slow it down to see it properly.
Finally, those fine threads from the cocoons of tiny worms
are transformed into this.
Silk just makes you think of luxury and decadence,
and for me, it evokes feelings of femininity and gracefulness,
because it makes me think of all those gorgeous saris
that have been passed down through the generations.
It's only after seeing this wonderful place
and how it's been woven for centuries
that I can truly appreciate it,
and absolutely, it's earnt its reputation
as one of the finest materials on earth.
The heyday of the British silk industry may be long gone,
but here by the River Test, the wheel still turns.
And craftspeople continue to weave this beautiful fabric
in time-honoured fashion.
Perfect paddling weather. But what about the future?
Will it rain to swell this river
so that that wonderful waterwheel will get powered?
Here's the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
Today, we're in Hampshire,
a county with a rich and varied landscape -
delicate chalk streams,
rich green fields,
and charming thatched villages.
It's the very essence of English rural life.
So really the last thing you'd expect to see
is a herd of water buffalo.
Natives of the Indian subcontinent,
these impressive animals belong to farmer Dagan James.
Dagan, I'm not very well-practised at approaching a buffalo.
What's the etiquette?
No jumping about, no shouting and screaming,
generally they're going to stay nice and calm.
They do seem very calm.
I've got to ask you, Dagan, I mean...why?
Why did you start farming water buffalo?
I think a big part of it was to get livestock back onto the farm.
It's a family farm, so we were in a really fortunate position
to have the opportunity to take over the management of the farm
about 15, 16 years ago.
It's very, er, poor soil we've got here,
not very productive without the use of fertilizer,
so we were trying to find a way to
-build the productivity of the soil by natural means.
-So you thought, "Water buffalo is the key!"
-Of course! What else?
It's an animal that hasn't really been genetically improved or altered
over the history.
They're very, very hardy, very disease-resistant.
The cows have their calves without any problems.
Six to eight months with their mum - after that, they're bulletproof.
These animals are here to do a job -
to provide the all-important, all-natural manure needed
to improve Dagan's land.
And it all begins with their diet.
tons of clover,
fixing the nitrogen.
These are anthelmintic, good against worms.
And the cock's-foot grass, which you can see loads of -
real traditional grass here, not so many people using it now,
but it's coming back because it's so hardy
and it's drought-resistant and it just grows and grows.
We're using the grasslands to try and improve the soil
by getting the right mixtures of plants which are helping the soil,
by using the buffalo as, like, a management tool
to enable that to happen.
And the Buffalo have taken to their job with gusto,
chomping and chewing their way through acre after acre.
They've done their job. They're ready to go, I reckon.
OK, well, show us the best way of moving a herd of buffalo!
-I think I can undo the rope and you can take over from there, yeah?
Dagan continually rotates each herd onto fresh patches of grass,
a system known as mob grazing.
As these brilliant beasts graze and move around,
they also trample vital nutrients back into the soil.
-Calm as you like.
-There you go.
-Isn't that lovely?
-These are young males, aren't they?
-Yeah, these are all bulls.
And we run the stock as bulls up to finish at two years old.
-These are the best-behaved buffalo we've got.
The young heifers, you know, the teenage girls,
handful, man. Handful.
Has it always been this kind of refined?
No! This is a model that has taken much improving over the years.
Looking at that view there, and in the afternoon sunshine,
you would never believe you're in Hampshire.
How protective are the mums? And is that quite a tricky time?
-I can imagine!
-That's when we nearly die.
The mothers are very, very protective,
so you learn that and then you act with great caution.
But again, they've got used to us being around them all the time,
they've really calmed down since we started this grazing management.
I mean, just look there now.
You must be so proud of your animals.
-You must be, you must be, when you see that.
They do it all, man, they do all the work.
As much as Dagan loves his animals,
these buffalo are destined for the dinner plate.
Lower in cholesterol and leaner than beef,
Dagan's buffalo meat is proving a hit in local restaurants.
Top chef Chris Heather serves it up at his place
on the banks of the River Test.
Well, I've seen how the buffalo is reared,
now it's time for the taste test. Um, Chris. Look at that,
that looks absolutely delicious. What have you done with this?
This is honey-glazed and smoked buffalo carpaccio
with a celeriac remoulade, sweet onions, tomato and pine nuts.
OK. Here we go.
-Oh, yeah. It is sweet!
-Oh, my word.
-Thanks for coming to try it - enjoy.
Don't worry about that, I'm going to demolish the whole lot.
'And right on cue, look who's turned up for dinner.'
Anita, come on in!
-Ooh, look at that.
-Try this, right?
-So you know where I was headed today?
-Water buffalo farm.
Now the grassland that this animal
-has been feeding on is something else.
-Let's try that.
I've had mozzarella and milk, but never the meat.
-What do you think?
It's very light and dainty, isn't it?
And not as strong as I thought it would be.
-There we are. That's all we've got time for
from Hampshire. Next week, we're going to be in the East Midlands
where I'll be taking a trip down the area's great river.
And Helen will be discovering the region's foodie heritage.
To celebrate British Flowers Week, Charlotte Smith and Anita Rani are looking at the resurgence of British flowers. Charlotte meets Rosebie Morton, a Hampshire farmer who has diversified into British blooms in a big way. On her farm there are as many acres given over to flowers as there is food. For Rosebie it is all about the scent. Charlotte is intoxicated by their fragrance and finds out from scientist Dr Lorenzo Stafford what it is about the smell of flowers we find so bewitching.
Anita is up bright and early at Covent Garden Flower Market, where she meets the traders doing a roaring trade in homegrown roses, including Rosebie's. She also meets up with two floral artists who have turned their hands to creating fantastic floral headdresses.
Matt Baker takes to the old pack horse trails through the New Forest with Gale Gould and her trusty pack horse Josh. Josh is all done up in period livery, and Matt hears how these ponies were used by smugglers to ply their illicit trade. He also hears that the forest was used for bombing practice by the RAF. Where the bombs fell, the craters filled with water to become ponds rich in wildlife.
Matt also visits a farm where water buffalo are the main livestock. He helps farmer Dagan James round them up and learns that their meat is reckoned to be better for us. To put this to the test, he tries buffalo carpaccio at a riverside restaurant.
Adam Henson gets stuck in with the sheep shearing and hears from different farmers about the prices they are getting for their wool.
Tom Heap investigates why areas set up by the government to protect our seas are being branded by some scientists as worse than useless.