In Ireland, 'a soft morning', describes a day of constant drizzle and mist, and this is what it is like when I called into Pythouse this weekend. A day for sitting inside, drinking tea, watching the rain and thinking how happy Heather the Head Gardener will be. And the cherries and the apricots and the beans and the kiwis and the sweetpeas ...
A day, also, for looking at the paintings hung in the Potting Shed in their most recent exhibition. Including this rather appropriately named landscape by Rachel Sargent.
As I walk through the garden to the Potting Shed the banks of herbs emit the most wonderful wafts of fragrance into the damp air.
Once inside out of the rain I ask Aggie about the herbs that she and Matt are using in the cooking at the moment.
There has been tarragon chicken on the menu accompanied by mini roast potatoes that Aggie tossed in four different herbs as she baked them. "I just went into the herb bed and gathered handfuls of rosemary, parsley and two types of thyme", she explains. I am just sorry I wasn't in for lunch on that day.
There are bundles of sage hung up on the doors and walls, and buckets of flowering purple sage on the wooden trestle table. Manager Mitch asks me if I am impressed with his flower arranging - and I am!
Some of the herbs are going to be used to create 'smudge sticks' - something I have never heard of before. Apparently you can roll the herbs tightly in cotton and burn them like incense sticks.
I will be interested to see how they get on with these, but for now I am happy to come across the herbs in the dishes they serve and in the chutneys and goodies Aggie makes for the Kitchen Garden Shop.
I am particularly pleased to see the range of Mr Hatton's chutneys. Mr Hatton came to work in the garden in the 1920s and became head gardener around 1945 - only retiring in 2002. The only time he took off was to go to the races, and when young, to play cricket.