Oregano, Parsley, Coriander, Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, Sage, Purple Sage, Pineapple Sage, French Tarragon, Lemon Verbena – the gardens are bursting with herbs – we’re picking by the basketful. Chives, Sorrel, Salad Burnet – they’re all going into the kitchen. I love growing herbs, for flavour, for fragrance, for colour, even occasionally for making homemade potions – I carry Calendula Balm with me always! We grow more herbs than we can eat so we’re scenting oils, freezing and drying to keep us going all year. French Tarragon Oil is delicious on everything – I mean everything, but it’s absolutely amazing drizzled over poached eggs and toast. Lemon verbena tea is the drink of summer and even better when it’s picked fresh from the garden – we also use it in possets, salads and add it to summer tarts. We’re still picking Rhubarb – Timperley is an early variety but it’s still going strong and makes a great pairing with Lemon verbena in tarts, cakes, cocktails – all the good things.
As well as the herbs, the edible flowers need picking regularly to keep them flourishing. We use a lot to decorate cakes and garnish salads and the Violas, Sweet Williams and Scented Geraniums are all flowering well. I grow several varieties of Rose for decoration and for scent and this year we have a profusion of blooms that it’s hard to keep up with. Chevy Chase for its petite flowers and vibrant colour, Crown Princess Margareta for it big blousy petals and fragrance and Munstead Wood - because its just so awesomely beautiful, are amongst the favourites.
The soft fruit is just about ready for picking – nearly, almost, not quite…the task is to determine the exact perfect moment seconds before the Mistle Thrush that’s been eyeing them greedily. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, even the Grapes on the greenhouse, nothing is sacred . Somehow it manages to get through all varieties of barrier - the only solution is going to have to be fruit cages – maybe next year, for now the race is on!