We set off in the early morning sunshine beneath a cool blue sky. On the horizon, the tops of the hills and mountains were still white with the recent snowfall, which we have somehow escaped with just the odd flurry and no lingering ground-cover.
As we traveled, clouds drew across the sky and all too soon the sunshine faltered before finally fleeing entirely. Part of our agenda for the day was a visit to Jekka’s Herb Farm, for the first of a series of Herb Fridays, happily coinciding with Good Friday and therefore a day off work, and a glimpse of the new Herboretum being created here, to be completed in the coming year.
Despite the ongoing miserable and cold weather, there was a vast array of herbs looking perky under cover, from kitchen favourites (a particularly incredible range of thymes, mints and rosemary varieties) to less well known plants with culinary or medicinal properties – and these just the small set that are early into growth.
Jekka McVicar and her team were very much in evidence; offering advice, collating orders and supplying tea and cakes in the newly appointed potting shed, which is destined to become a kitchen. Here, chefs will be able to demonstrate the use of herbs, as part of the new school programme.
Outside, the first of the smart raised beds had been newly planted with varieties of rosemary. I was particularly taken by a prostrate variety(R. officinalis ‘Boule’) that was flowering its pale blue socks off – and the scent of R. officinalis ‘Green Ginger’ was extraordinary.
More slender ranks of potted herbs were to be found outdoors; here we added a cowslip to our modest handful of plants, which comprised a cat thyme (Teucrium marum), which will undoubtedly be razed to the ground by munching cats before it has a chance to show off its pretty flowers; a myrtle (Myrtus communis Pyewood Park) for my Mum and a Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) which I have hankered over for some time.
It was rather a fleeting visit, though the bitter cold wind didn’t invite lingering either. However, plans seem to be progressing well on site and I look forward to future visits to the fledgling Herboretum – not to mention a few more acquisitions – as it grows.