"... She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs; But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears ..."

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Soft Morning

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.
It is good to see his name lives on.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Cow Girl, Delphiniums & Dormouse

Every two years there is an Art's Trail that snakes its way through the Wyle valley and surrounding area, passing close to Pythouse Garden. Yellow signs the colour of oilseed rape direct you to art exhibitions in cottages, church halls and barns.
I should be inside working away on my computer, but what a waste that would be when I can be outside in the warm sunshine.
Some of my favourite exhibits are here on Ashley Wood Farm near to Tisbury. A gloriously abandoned friesian cow (complete with cowgirl) gambles past a ridiculously large and stolid eagle. I also discover this idyllically situated 'fisherman's lodge' which is let for short or long term holidays. As the name suggests it looks out over the luminous green waters of Fonthill Lake.
Enough of art. Time for lunch at Pythouse.
A mixed plate of antipasto, plus a bag of scones to take home for tea.
But before I head home (to the computer) a wander through the delphiniums and lavender.
The only things missing are the geraniums ...
and the Dormouse.
There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).
A Doctor came hurrying round and he said:
"Tut-tut", I am sorry to find you in bed.
Just say 'Ninety-nine' while I look at your chest ...
Don't you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?"
The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied
(When he'd said "Ninety-nine") that he'd tried and he'd tried,
And much the most answering thing that he knew
Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).
The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,
And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:
"What the patient requires is a change," and he went
To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.
The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),
And he knew that there was nothing he wanted instead
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)
AA Milne