TheStars of the Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Thymus ‘Jekka’, Artemisia absinthium, Wormwood,Mentha longifolia subsp schimperi Eastern Mint, Atriplex hortensis var. rubra Red Orach, Papaver rhoeas Field Poppy.

I always find it truly amazing that, however worried I get before Chelsea  and whatever the vagaries of the weather, the plants seem to know that it is ‘Show Time’ and simply shine on the day.  Who would have thought it would have been possible to have the Poppy in flower especially as, one week before the show, they were still buds.

Papaver rhoeas, Poppy  and Linum perenne, Flax.

We grew them for 2 show gardens, the Arthritis Research Garden and the  L’Occitane Immortelle Garden, and used the surplus stock in our own display.  The simple splash of red draws you eye to see even more detail within the garden.

Istatis tinctoria, Woad looked stunning in the L’Occitane Immortelle Garden  and also the Renault garden in the new Fresh garden section of the show.

Istatis tinctoria, Woad, with Silybum marianum, Milk Thistle in front

This is a traditional dye plant which produces a blue/grey dye from the mature leaves. As a dye plant it has now been nearly superseded by indigo.

Isatis tinctoria, Woad, in full yellow flower under planted with Allium schoenoprasum, Chives,and Nepeta x faassenii, Catmint.

We also battled with the cornflowers for the RBC Blue Water garden and even they sprung into flower just in time.

Centaurea cyanus, Cornflower

But the star of this year, as in many previous years,was Angelica. It looked architecturally splendid on the M&G garden.

Angelica archangelica, Angelica

It also attracted the honey bees which were being constantly photographed on our stand.

The question of the show was about Alkanet and Borage as many seemed confused as to which was which .

To make it quite clear. Alkanet, like its first cousin Comfrey, is a herbaceous perennial reappearing each year in the same place.  It is not edible,  the roots produce a red dye which was traditional used to colour rouge.  Borage, on the other hand, is an annual herb which will happily self seed itself all round your garden.  The leaves and flowers are edible and medicinal. The flowers are synonymous with the drink  Pimm’s.

As we close on this years Chelsea we are already in full preparation for 2013, the 100th Chelsea Flower Show, which will, I am sure, be as spectacular as this year has been.

Thymus ‘Jekka’

30 organic rosemary varieties and a great big plant sale

It’s harvest time in the herb garden. August and September are months of abundance, with plentiful supplies to use fresh from the garden. It’s also the ideal time to prepare herbs for the winter months, not only to give a continuous supply of leaf, but also to give hardy perennials their very best chance of surviving the vagaries of winter.

Chocolate Peppermint

 Jekka has been busy sorting and cutting back our 30 different mint species (including Chocolate Peppermint with its ‘After Eight’ flavour, and variegated Pineapple mint, delicious and pretty in a fruit salad) to give a final winter crop. Mint cuttings can be put to excellent use in a fresh mint sauce, pea and mint soup, a jug of Pimms or a refreshing cup of mint tea.

Rosemary Sudbury Blue

Jekka has also been pruning and re-potting her rather large rosemary collection – now a staggering 30 different varieties. To Jekka’s keen eye, it isn’t difficult to distinguish R. Foxtail which has a bushy, prostrate habit (not unlike a fox’s tail) from a R. Prostrate, also, unsurprisingly, prostrate but minus the bushiness. Or R. ‘Lady in White’ from R. ‘White’ – naturally, both are notable for their white flowers, but the Lady is arching whilst the commoner is prostrate (draw your own conclusion). Cultivars such as R. Sissinghurst Blue and R. Sudbury Blue have significantly different minimum temperature requirements. Sissinghurst is frosthardy (down to -50C) , whilst Sudbury is fully hardy (down to -150C).Taste and flavour are important distinguishing factors too; for something completely different, try R. Green Ginger, which adds a mildly oriental taste to your roast lamb or barbequed fish. Other factors include the shade and shape of the rosemary’s thin needles: some are light green, some are dark, some are fatter whilst some are more pine-needle like in appearance.

Overridingly, Rosmarinus officinalis is amongst the most useful plants you can grow in the garden. It is evergreen, so can be harvested all year round; an appetite stimulant, the leaves have antibacterial and antioxidant properties; combine with meat, casseroles, soups and sauces, fish, rice, cordials vinegars etc; even the flower is edible, with a sweet taste, delicious with cooked vegetables; the leaves can be roasted at high temperatures without disintegrating; plant it companiably near carrots to help repel carrot fly; infuse it for an antiseptic tea/mouthwash/gargle – also, allegedly, an excellent cure for a hangover.

Come along, see for yourself and pick up some expert growing tips too at Jekka’s final Open Days of the season, from 2nd – 4th September, when she’ll be holding her end-of-season plant sale, including organically grown rosemary species; rare, tropical and wildflower herb varieties; essential herbs for foodies, such as Lemon Verbena, French Tarragon and Chilean Guava; dye plants Woad and Wormwood; medicinal powerhouses Arnica and Lemon Balm; aromatics like Balm of Gilead and Cat Thyme.  We’ll also have a super selection of our beautiful specimen herb plants on sale at very reasonable prices.

Jekka's Open Days - September 2nd to 4th - End-of-season plant sale

 The farm will be open to the public from 10am – 4pm. Entry is free on Friday 2nd September and charged at £2.00 per person on Saturday and Sunday, although catalogue holders, members of the RHS, the West of England Herb Group and the Soil Association also receive free entry on all days for two people.  

Jekka's FREE herb talk, 10.30 & 2.30 on each open day

 

Jekka’s Herb Farm is usually closed to the public, so Open Days are a unique opportunity to browse and buy, breathe in and taste the scents and flavours of our 650+, organically grown herb varieties. Pick up some expert tips from award-winning, organic herb farmer, writer and broadcaster, Jekka, and partake of locally grown, seasonal refreshments in the ‘Berry Blue’ café. Herb workshops with Jekka (pre-booking is essential) take place on each Open Day at 12pm and tickets are £15 per person.

We very much look forward to welcoming you to the farm (and a bit of self indulgence,  sharing our knowledge and passion for herbs with you)!