Best Chelsea ever

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show was wonderful this year. Despite high winds scattering debris and London Plane Tree pollen over immaculate gardens, and a spot of (much needed but rarely convenient) torrential rain, it was really very special and many visitors to our Pavilion Way stand commented that it was their favourite Chelsea ever.

It was particularly exciting for us this year. Not only did we launch Jekka’s Herbal Tea (which promptly sold out ), but we also grew our organic herbs for three major show gardens, including the gold medal winning B&Q garden by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collins…

B&Q Garden, featuring organic edible herbs grown here on the farm

…the Silver Gilt winning M&G Investment Garden by Bunny Guinness…

The M&G garden, featuring our organically grown herbs

…and the silver medal winning Skyshades garden by Marney Hall…

Skyshades garden – organic, wild and beautiful (and a bit of Plane Tree pollen on the camera lense darn & blast it)!

What made Chelsea particularly special for Jekka? Well, amidst brewing up herbal tea on our Pavilion Way stand..

Jekka's Herb Farm, Pavilion Way stand

..(which featured a beautiful dresser to display our teas, handmade from sustainable wood by Green Woods Furniture)…

Dresser by Green Woods Furniture

…moderating for the RHS judges, giving a VIP tour to Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, with several BBC TV interviews thrown in for good measure, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show held the ultimate surprise for Jekka. Completely unbeknown to Jekka, Rhododendron ‘Mrs T.H. Lowinsky’ bears the name of her Great Grandmother, named by Jekka’s Great Grandfather, an avid collector of rhododendrons. Jekka came across this beautiful flower, proudly on display by Chelsea gold medal winners Millais Nurseries.

Rhododendron 'Mrs T H Lowinsky'

What an amazing discovery!

Next stop, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, 5th – 10th July (or if you can’t wait for a browse and a sensuous sniff amongst the organic herbs, come along to our next Open Days 17th – 19th June, here on the farm in South Glos).


Smiths Guitarist,Johnny Marr gets Bright & Breezy with Jekka’s new brew

Jekka’s new, organic herbal brews are proving to be a popular tipple at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week. Former guitarist of  The Smiths, Johnny Marr, paid a visit to Jekka’s Pavilion Way stand on Monday and enjoyed a cup of Jekka’s Bright & Breezy Brew (lemon balm, lemon peel, rosemary and cornflower).

Johnny Marr supping Jekka's Bright & Breezy Brew

Johnny Marr supping Jekka's Bright & Breezy Brew

A great advocate of herbal tea, and happy to be our first musical tea tester (apart from Jekka, of course, ex flautist from 70s rock band, Marsupilami), Johnny breathes in the aromatic brew, and drinks up. What’s the verdict?


A smile, and a purchase of all 3 blends (Bright & Breezy, Jekka’s 3pm Tea and Jekka’s Good Night Tea). Jolly good. We’d love to think that Jekka’s organic herbal brews will perhaps even help to inspire Johnny, now a solo artist, with a new hit. Johnny  – keep us posted!

Jekka's Herbal Teas

Sow your own Chelsea Herb Border – please DO try this at home

Herbs can be grown, with beautiful effect, in small spaces. Jekka has proved this again at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week. “What?” you may cry, “Jekka’s not doing Chelsea any more” Yes she is! Just not in the Grand Pavilion – instead, Jekka  launches her new range of herbal tea at her Pavilion Way booth (PW/30) at Chelsea this week.

Jekka, supping 'Bright & Breezy Brew' (Rosemary, Lemon Balm & Cornflower) at Chelsea 2011

Jekka also has over 100 herb seed varieties to choose from at Chelsea, and to illustrate their ease of planting in small spaces, has created an organic herbs border around her Chelsea booth.

Organic herbs, looking stunning, in a small space - Chelsea 2011

Please do try this at home. Here’s the plant list:

Allium schoenoprasum – Chives
Angelica archangelica – Angelica
Atriplex hortensis var. rubra – Red Orach
Borago officinalis – Borage
Calendula officinalis – Pot Marigold
Centaurea cyanus – Cornflower
Centranthus ruber – Red Valerian
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ – Bronze Fennel
Fragaria vesca – Wild Strawberry
Hesperis matronalis – Sweet Rocket
Origanum majorana – Sweet Marjoram
Papaver rhoeas – Field Poppy
Perilla frutescens var. purpurescens – Purple Shiso
Petroselinim crispum – Parsley
Salvia officinalis – Sage
Savlia viridis var. comata – Painted Sage
Thymus ‘Fragrantissimus’ – Orange scented Thyme
Tropaeolum majus ‘Empress of India’ – Nasturtium Empress of India
Valeriana officinlais – Valerian
Viola tricolor – Heartease, Wild Pansy

If you saw Jekka on BBC Breakfast on Monday 23rd, you might be wondering which herb she mentioned that’s 20 times sweeter than sugar, minus the calories – it’s Stevia. And as for the organic pest spray: crush a clove of garlic into warm water, leave for about 6 hours then strain, and spray.

We’re also launching our brand new kitchen/garden apron, and herby teatowels at Chelsea, designed by another extremely talented member of the McVicar clan, Hannah – seen below, modelling the apron:

Our new apron, modelled by designer and illustrator, Hannah McVicar

Wondering what happened to our errant friend? Well, he made it into the RHS Chelsea Showground, onto our stand (Pavilion Way, PW30) and is actually making himself useful:

Shhh - don't tell - Borage the Gnome, watering Heartsease on our Chelsea stand

P.S. our absolute congratulations to Cleve West for his Gold Medal, Best in Show, winning garden – The Daily Telegraph Garden – at Chelsea. Stunning.
P.P.S. if you’re at Chelsea and hoping for Jekka’s Herbal Tea – hurry – it’s selling fast and stocks are limited!

Gnome infiltrates the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011

We’re all ready for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.Organic herb plants grown & supplied to Bunny Guinness (M&G Investment Garden), Patrick Collins (B&Q Garden) and Marney Hall (Skyshades Garden). Tick.Herbal teas blended and packed for the launch at our Pavilion Way stand (PW30). Tick.New kitchen/garden aprons and teatowels (designed by Hannah McVicar) packed. Tick. Jekka’s Herb Cookbooks, packed. Tick. Over 100 herb seed varieties – packed. Tick. Jekka (who’ll be judging, hosting VIP guests of the RHS, giving TV interviews a-plenty, brewing up copious amounts of herbal tea and manning our Pavilion Way stand) – packed! Tick.

Everything’s loaded onto the lorry and headed Chelsea-wards. But there have been strange goings on amidst all the activity, and someone else wants to get in on the act.

Mis-gnomer. Borage on the tail lift

Spot the infiltrator. Not one to miss out on the world’s greatest flower show, Borage the Gnome, in his guise as a Pennyroyal plant, has made it onto the tailift. Famously banned from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2009, this naughty gnome is a rebel with a cause.

Borage, nestling amongst the Black Pansies on the Chelsea lorry. Made it.

Last seen, travelling up the M4, in the direction of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Please report any sightings to Jekka and the team on our Pavilion Way stand, PW30. Thank you.

Taking tea at Chelsea

Preparation is such a big part of  success. This week we’re elbow- deep in preparation for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which has crept up on us and suddenly arrived out of nowhere.  If you hadn’t heard, we’ve been growing for 3 major show gardens at Chelsea this year: the M&G Investment Garden by Bunny Guinness, the B&Q Garden by Patrick Collins and the Skyshades Garden by Marney Hall, and now it’s delivery time.

The BBC have been twice already to film us primping and prepping our organic herbs, and loading them onto the van for delivery to the show.

All hands to the herbs, prepping for Chelsea Flower Show

We’re also having a retail ‘booth’ of our own at the show, on Pavilion Way (PW/30). Here, you’ll find over 100 herb seed varieties, our brand new kitchen/garden aprons and teatowels designed by the illustrator of the family, Hannah McVicar, and (the piece de resistance), our brand new range: Jekka’s Herbal Teas.

Jekka's Herbal Teas - launching at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Jekka has been drying and blending herbal teas for decades. Family and friends have encouraged her to launch this range of organic, whole leaf loose tea blends so that everyone can benefit. These are seriously good teas: they taste wonderful, look beautiful (with the inclusion of flower petals such as Cornflower and Calendula) and have been specially blended for maximum impact. For example, Jekka’s mid afternoon brew,  3pm Tea (PMT..get it?!) contains healing, stimulating and carminative ingredients such as Peppermint and Hibiscus ” A perky blend for mid afternoon clarity, or if you’re just feeling crabby“! Jekka’s Herbal Teas will be on sale at our next Open Days (17th-19th June) and from from June.

Even though we’ve got a ‘booth’ again this year, Chelsea visitors will still be treated to a glimpse of our beautiful, organically grown herbs, as Jekka has designed a special ‘booth’ border to illustrate how easily herbs can be grown in a small space.

'Mocking up' for our Chelsea 'booth'

There are 20 herb plants in Jekka’s beautiful booth border,  including AngelicaPainted Sage, Purple Shiso, Orange Scented Thyme, Sweet Rocket and Valerian. All will be available to buy as seed at the show from our Pavilion Way stand at the very special offer show price of 7 packets for £10.

Jekka and all of the team are blending, pruning, primping and packing so that everything is as perfect as it possibly can be for the world’s best flower show.

Meanwhile, Jekka’s dog, Hampton, who has followed this routine for many years, knows only too well how best to deal with the hive of activity around him.

'Wake me up when it's all over'

Gnoming in on Jekka’s Gold at Malvern

All Jekka’s hard, herb work paid off at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show last week.

“I’m over the moon to be awarded a Gold Medal” says Jekka ” because this shows everyone that organic herbs can look amazing, never mind their countless other benefits!” 

Jekka's Gold Medal winning Herb Display at the Malvern Show

Jekka’s little mascot ( infamous for his appearance at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2009) managed to get in on the act too:

Borage the Gnome, taking the credit

Jekka’s ‘Eat Native’ talk on edible herbs in the ‘Garden in Harmony’ theatre was very well received: even an audience full of experienced gardeners are often delighted to find they can actually eat what they might previously have believed to be just ornamental flowers ( Pot Marigold, Borage, Angelica, Chives to name but a few).
While all this was going on, said mascot disappeared for a while, turning up in the most unexpected places:
Borage at the Dibleys Nurseries stand at Malvern
..and Borage again, on the Fernatix stand at Malvern

Who knows what he’ll get up to at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next week!


Mocking up for Malvern

There are just two and a half days until we’re off to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, so it’s all hands to the herbs. Jekka’s been mocking up her herb display in one of our polytunnels: it’s a beautiful, subtle mix of mauves, such as Amaranthus tricolor ‘Red Army’ – Amaranth; Atriplex hortensis var. rubraRed Orach; Lavandula x intermediaLullingstone Castle‘; Perilla frutescens var. purpurescens Purple Shiso,  and whites, such as Westringia fruticosa AGM – Australian Rosemary which will surround the centrepiece, which is one of our magnificent Bay Trees.

Jekka's Herb Display for Malvern Spring Show 2011 - Stand OS543

Some of our favourites this year include Salvia argentea AGM – Silver Sage: a beautiful, frost hardy biennial which has splendid, large silvery grey leaves covered in white hair – it’s an immensely tactile plant and has pinkish white flowers in the summer, adored by butterflies and bees. Also Teucrium marumCat Thyme: a frost hardy perennial, which has beautiful small pink flowers in summer, is extremely aromatic and is absolutely adored by cats, as well as bees and butterflies. Also Ugni molinae ‘Variegata’ – Variegated Chilean Guava: a frost hardy, evergreen shrub which has very pretty shell pink flowers in summer, followed by a delicious, sweet red fruit in the autumn – reputed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit. And of course, we’ll be taking along Chenopodium bonus-henricus, Good King Henry.

Good King Henry - plants available at the Malvern Spring Show

In addition, we’ll have at least five different organically grown basil varieties, including Ocimum americanumThai Lime Basil and the very popular Ocimum x citriodorum ‘Siam Queen’ – Basil Siam Queen.

The plants on our display are all organically grown herb plants in pots which will be available to buy, along with Jekka’s signed books, greetings cards and seed collections from our stand OS543.

Jekka also joins Channel 4 TV’s Landscape Man, Matthew Wilson on a discussion panel at the Garden in Harmony Theatre on Thursday 12th at 11.30am, and then Jekka’s back again at 2pm for a talk on ‘Eat Native’, followed by a book signing of Jekka’s Herb Cookbook.

See you there!