Archive for May, 2012

The Lost Gardens – what a great find

The wonderful think about being self-employed is that you can sneak off every now and then without having to justify yourself to anyone…except yourself, of course. So, when himself had to go to Cornwall at the end of last week on business I thought I would tag along for the ride. While he was busy doing chit-chat, chit-chat, coffee, coffee, chit-chat with customers, I took myself off and got snappy happy around St Ives with my new camera. What joy. Blue sky, blue sea and tonnes of lovely golden sand.

On the way back we decided to call in at the Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell as we’d heard they were worth a visit. Although late in the afternoon, we decided it was still worth visiting as it was a chance to see the rhododendrons in flower and we also wanted to see the greenhouses. Well, there are greenhouses and then there are greenhouses. These have all been restored to their original state and they are absolutely fantastic. Take a look at these…these are greenhouses to die for.

 

Then there are the cold frames and the famous Pineapple pits (complete with the first of the season’s pineapple)…

 

All this before you even get to the veg patch…well, patch doesn’t come anywhere close, it’s more of a veg acre. I have never seen so many canes in such neat rows. Even the scarecrow had been to Specsavers, sporting a trendy pair of bifocals on the end of his nose!

 

It’s not only the plants that are fascinating, it’s the way that everything has been planted in the neatest of rows and someone has painstakingly painted and handwritten every label. Every detail in this garden has been restored perfectly.

 

This is definitely a place to come back to when you can spend the whole day soaking it all in. We only really had time to look at the greenhouses, the vegetable garden and some of the jungle garden. We’ll definitely be back. For the whole day. With a picnic.

If you happen to find yourself in Cornwall this summer, I would thoroughly recommend a visit. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore. I can guarantee there will be plenty of, “Wow, look at that”, “If only I had a greenhouse like this”, “This veg garden is just…”, “OMG look at this” moments – so it’s definitely worth the £10 to get in. The plant centre, cafe and farm shop are an added bonus, as always. Here are a few more pictures to tempt you.

       

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb

Another week gone by, another hanging basket hung in the overcrowded greenhouse, and … another wet day! Will we ever be able to plant anything out? There are so many jobs to be done but this grotty weather is stopping us from getting on with most of them.

We planted another lot of peas last night. This is our third attempt: the first lot got eaten by mice, the second lot got drowned in the rain, so hopefully third time lucky. It seems that if things don’t get eaten, they get washed away. The sprouts and Sticcolli got bombarded by the storms a few weeks ago so we had to dismantle the cloches. This was good news for the pigeons, who managed to peck their way through the lot before we had chance to protect them. A second batch has now been planted and surrounded by a very complex system of gold cotton – ha, try pecking your way through that without getting stuck!!

Despite all of this, there are a few things that are doing well. Many of the strawberries are in flower and looking very healthy, the currants all have currants starting to appear and the rhubarb is growing like wild-fire. So, with a very soggy Bank Holiday Monday there was no option but to get creative in the kitchen with the rhubarb. We were determined to pick it while it is young this year and make the most of it. Last year we were complete rhubarb novices and left it to grow far too long and it became woody. Anyway, we called in the rhubarb tester last week (my mother) who assured us it was just right for picking. She eats it raw – aghh! (that’s what growing up during the war does for you). Last year she spat it out, but this year she just kept munching – proof that it was fit for eating.

So, what do we do with it? Well, I came across a recipe for Rhubarb Vodka so that was high on the list. Here it is…

The Rhubarb Vodka in progress

It might look all a bit stringy at the moment but hopefully in 3 weeks time when I’ve strained it, it’ll be pure nectar. Could it be this year’s village show winner and help us retain that Vicarage Cup? Well, if that fails perhaps the Rhubarb and Orange Jam might be a winner.

Lovely rhubarb

Rhubarb & Orange Jam

This is really tasty – a bit like marmalade but with that slightly sharp rhubarb taste. All we need to do now is to wait for a few more sticks to grow so that I can have a go at Rhubarb and Cardamon Chutney – Yum!