The garden at River Cottage HQ

Today we are finally going to look around the garden at River Cottage HQ, and although it actually took place and I was actually there in November I'm still excited to share these pictures today. This post has been a little longer coming than I anticipated, even from when I showed you around the yard and the yurt recently, but well Easter came between us, and I'm sure you were busy too...

After that quick glimpse that I told you about before I finally made it into the garden, and it was just as good as I'd hoped it would be. Heading past the small shed-cum-outbuilding I paused to consider the slate plant markers and terracotta pots. Artfully arranged or left somewhere handy to grab when you need them, I'd like to think the latter, but who knows?

A nook with terracotta pots and slate plant markers at River Cottage HQ

It was November when I visited and I quickly had severe brassica envy, which isn't as painful as it sounds. And as well as an array of brassicas, they were all growing in orderly, neat lines and you'll know that this is one of my long held desires and probably something I won't ever quite manage, but I can but try.  My rows always end up a little wonky, and patchy.  But, if I could do it, wouldn't it look great?

Rows of orderly kale and cavolo nero growing in rows at River Cottage HQ in Devon

There were still plenty of herbs around and the acid greeny-yellow flowers of the dill really did add some zing to the garden, especially against the gravel paths.

acid green flowering herbs

As I reached the centre of the garden I looked back and caught a glimpse of the farm house, the one we're all familiar with from the television - and I rather like it appearing through the kale and cavolo nero like it is.

kale with River Cottage HQ in the background - a view you'll recognise from the TV

At the end of the garden - and it's not as long as you think it would be, it's wide, but look at how wide the farmhouse is - the trees foliage was turning yellow, and I'm sure it looked much more dramatic than this at the time.

November, and one  of the trees' foiliage turning yellow

Amazingly the sweet peas were still in flower. In November. That's quite something, and I expect is partly to do with succession sowing but also because the farm is in a valley and like many other south-western gardens benefit from its own micro-climate. But with sweet peas this late in the year, what's not to like?

Sweet peas still in flower at River Cottage HQ in November
Yellowing asparagus stems with vibrant viburnum at River Cottage HQ in Devon

The asparagus was done though and its leaves were turning yellow, and it looked good against the purple viburnum, which is a plant I'm adding to my garden wish list.  This driftwood heart on one of the walls summed up my thoughts on the garden, and it was great to be there in person.

A driftwood heart which sums up my feelings for the garden at River Cottage HQ
That viburnum again against the wall of River Cottage HQ
Fennel and nasturtiums in a wooden planter - what else can you spot?

The nasturtiums were plentiful, in containers and in the borders. I grew them last year on the allotment amongst the squash and courgettes and it brought some colour to my plot. The good thing about nasturtiums is that they grew pretty much anywhere, and like poor conditions (so that's good!) but be prepared for them to come back year after year, as it's hard to remove all of the seeds. But not a bad problem to have.

Nasturtiums and some timberland boots (mine!) at River Cottage HQ

The feverfew looked pretty too. Yeap, another plant for my wishlist...

Beautiful feverfew in the border at River Cottage HQ

There was another part of the garden that reminded me of our allotment too, and that was the strawberry border. Hugh's is looking much more established than mine, but it's something I'm still planning to make happen over at the plot.  I think I may need to make a mound for my plants though so they can look as good as this.

A border of strawberries - I knew it was a good idea and something I'm planning on my allotment - great idea HFW!

It was starting to rain by now, but there was no way I was missing out on the time I had in the River Cottage HQ garden - it was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit. I think I was probably one of the few left out there, us gardeners are a hardy lot aren't we. I realised though that having such a pretty kitchen garden is a bit of a luxury and unlikely something I'll have myself, unless I'm very lucky. 

A covered walkway through the garden at River Cottage HQ

But there were plenty of ideas that I could use at some point- and learn from - in Hugh's garden, and the picture above shows two of those; the pergola and the zinc troughs. One day maybe, I might manage some zinc pots in this garden - not sure I'll stretch to anything this size, but it'll be a while before I manage a pergola though.  

But first I'll have to perfect that strawberry border, I'll let you know how I get on!  Although I think I could be in for a good crop of strawberries this year as the plants I've potted up ready to take to the allotment are already in flower, so now I'm in two minds as to whether or not to move them....

But what a great opportunity to look around River Cottage HQ, I hope you enjoyed this short look around as much as I did. And if you get the chance to visit yourself, then go!


* With thanks to River Cottage and Flea Enterprises for the invitation and arrangements for my visit.

Prosecco on ice - a great way to end a day

Last Sunday we had a busy day in the garden, but I was determined that for once - and on what was the warmest day of the year - that we'd also find time to just be, and sit in our garden and enjoy it. Sometimes it's just too hot for working in the garden isn't it?  So after spending a fair bit of time cleaning the greenhouse so it sparkled and cleaning the barbecue so it was clean enough, well to cook off, we did just that.

And I had a masterplan up my sleeveless top. That was to use two of my recent blog deliveries, as in preparation I'd already bought some ice. That's not something I usually do, but when you need large quantities it's the easiest way, although in hindsight I didn't buy anywhere near as much as I needed to fill my new Wham Flexi-Square carry all. But with three bags of ice and, although I say it myself, some clever use of bubble wrap it worked - note to self, I'll need a lot more ice, or a lot more bottles(!) to make this work - but it'll be ideal for a party. In fact just like the party we're having in June to celebrate our 110th.
prosecco by premier estate wines on ice in my new flexi-square trug

I'm a big fan of these plastic trugs and regularly use them for gardening, we currently have four at home - bright pink, boring green, zingy red and vibrant yellow - plus another bright pink one on the allotment, but I didn't fancy using any of these for this.

Those are all round, this one's obviously square and a great lime green colour; so much more subtle than any I already had. It's the larger size, which has a capacity of 25L - so it'll take a lot of ice and more importantly store a party amount of bottles too.

The ice bucket cum flexi-square trug is a good size

The best things about barbecues are that I don't have to do anything. Actually, scratch that. For barbecues in our house I become the Sous Chef, prepping everything in advance and handing over to the Chef de Partie (MOH) for the manly barbecue cooking ritual. Which is actually fine, as it means I can sit and direct operations. And with a view like this, that's often a good thing.

A barbecue with prosecco on ice is a great way to end the warmest day of the year (so far)
sitting back and admiring the hard day's work in the garden while MOH tends the BBQ
On this occasion I made use of my "free" time to take a closer look at the Premier Estates Prosecco which I'd been sent to try. I know, sometimes it's a tough gig, hey? I wasn't sure about why, or if, a small 20cl bottle would be a good idea, but actually it turned out well as I made a couple of apertifs to whet our appetite, and it was just the right amount.
Trying the 20cl bottle of prosecco from premier estates wine

I added a splash of elderflower liqueur to the bottom of the glass along with some frozen raspberries which we'd grown on the allotment last year and topped the glasses up with the small bottle of prosecco. I wasn't expecting it to be a screw top (that's just the smaller bottle) and that makes it more useable, but not that I needed to put the top back on...

Enjoying an aperitif - prosecco from premier estates wine, elderflower liqueur and frozen raspberries grown on our allotment

Meanwhile, the manly cooking was going quicker than expected - I think he needs a bit more practice, but to be fair it's early in the barbecue season isn't it?

the barbecue's well underway - the first of the year

With dinner cooked it was time to open the rosè. If I get a choice of normal or pink champagne I'd opt for the pin everytime so I was looking forward to this. And with MOH back in his sommelier role, all was good. I bet you want to know what it tastes like, don't you? Well, it was good and very drinkable. The alcoholic volume was low at 11%, but more importantly it was a dry prosecco and so not too sweet. I think this is why it's so drinkable. And at £7.99 a bottle it's reasonably priced and I'd consider buying for a celebration. Actually it'd be great for those sunny afternoons in the garden, when the celebration is that it's sunny. You have those too right?

Ah that's more like it, being waited on with rose prosecco
A great way to end the warmest day of the year (so far) let's hope there's many more to come

So - and as I'm watching BGT as I'm typing this - both of these get a yes from me. 

A great end to a lovely day - prosecco on ice and a barbecue, what else could I ask for?  (a little less charcoaled food perhaps!)

And here's to plenty more barbecues too. I think the start of April is our earliest ever - have you barbecued yet?


* I was sent the prosecco and trug free of charge for the purposes of this post, but all views and opinions are my own.

Post Comment Love 14-16 April 2017

Hello there and welcome to another Friday and another #PoCoLo - if you were here last week, thanks for linking up with us, we loved reading your posts. If you're linking for the first time this week, then welcome, I expect you'll find some cracking posts linked up, but don't just take my word for it.

Wasn't the weather great at the weekend? And so different during the week! Despite the change in temperature I've still been braving the walk to work without a coat, I find them cumbersome, so as soon as I can ditch my coat I'm a happy girl. I'm prepared to brave the colder mornings so I don't have to carry a coat home each evening, my plan is only scuppered when it's cold in the evening too. But that's a good reason to walk more quickly!

Greenwich Park is still as beautiful and the pink blossom still in full swing. One of the trees in the flower garden has been gaining lots of attention from Asian visitors who are queuing to have their photo taken underneath it. Deciding to (almost) get in on the act, one evening i stood under another of the trees, and that's the photo I'm sharing this week. I've had some fun editing what was a dark photo, but I think I'm allowed some photographic licence at times.

Blogger Showcase: Sam from Dove Cottage 

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