Crocus Open Days

Based in Windlesham Surrey, Crocus are the largest UK gardening web site. Whilst they can supply everything a gardener might need, including good advice, what they really pride themselves on is their plants, stocking over four thousand different varieties.

They are very popular with garden designers and grew the plants for Cleve West’s Best In Show garden at Chelsea last year as well as providing the plants for eleven Gold Medal winning gardens in the last nine years.

Not normally open to the public this weekend Saturday is the first of four open days they have planned for 2012. So if you fancy a break from all the digging and weeding.

As well as getting to walk around the extensive nurseries there are tours which include the stock beds and the Chelsea tunnels.

All the details are here and if you’re lucky you might get to meet this little chap.

 

Rhubarb Compote

I have been wanting to write about rhubarb for weeks now and have grown impatient. The five plants from Pennard Plants that I put in last year (three Hawkes Champagne and two Victoria) are looking promising but not yet ready to harvest.

So I have to confess the rhubarb for this recipe was a gift from eminent plot holder and committee member Steve Pearham.  At least I’ll be well practicised by the time my own crop  becomes available.

Ingredients

400gm Rhubarb

50gm Sugar – I used brown but white caster would probably give a more sophisticated and ‘pinker’ result.

Zest of a Navel Orange

15ml Grand Marnier – This is of course optional (and perhaps not recommended if you want to eat it for breakfast) but really adds a lovely note if you have some knocking around.

30ml Water

Method

Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces. They should be 1cm thick so cut the stalks in half lengthways if necessary.

Put them in a single layer in a baking dish. Scatter with the sugar and water.

Bake in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.

Cool slightly stir in orange zest and Grand Marnier. Stir gently.

This recipe makes approximately 300 gms of compote.

Delicious with anything creamy; custard, yoghurt, ice cream etc. Or it would be lovely on top of a Pavlova.

Let me know in the comments if you decide to try this or if you have a favourite rhubarb recipe.

Sowing: Cosmos Purity

My attempts at growing flowers last year were dismal. Perhaps I was over ambitious in choice but more likely it was the inconsistent temperature in the greenhouse that prevented germination.

I’d made my mind up to buy seedlings this year based on the money wasted on several packets of seeds I didn’t think there would be much difference in the overall cost and probably if I bought plug plants there wouldn’t be. BUT the thing is that you are much more limited in choice.  So after a couple of hours browsing at Ayletts yesterday I’ve decided to have another go, albeit on a far smaller scale and at home on the window sill.

So today I sowed Cosmos Purity a half hardy annual. Ferny foliage and pure white daisy type flowers, growing to a height of 1.2 metres. They look stunning in a border and also make good cut flowers.

Ingredients

Seeds

A Gravel Tray

2 Half Seed Trays; I find these easier to manage than a full tray

Compost and Vermiculite mixed in a ratio of 70:30

A Zip Lock Bag; large enough to cover the gravel tray

Method 

Fill the seed tray to within 5mm of the top and flatten down.

Fill the sink with 4cm of water and stand the seed tray in it for 10 minutes or until you can see the surface is damp.

Sow the seeds on the surface. They are a good size, so easy to spread evenly.

Cover the with a sprinkling of compost or vermiculite.

Put the seed trays in the gravel tray and the gravel tray inside the zip lock bag. Place on a window sill. Keep the surface moist, a spray is good for this.

They should start to germinate in one to two weeks.

I also sowed some Borage, think Pimms in the summer, though it is not keen on being transplanted, so a bit of an experiment.

Seeds from Thompson & Morgan here.