Thursday, 7 July 2011

A visit to Hampton Court Flower Show

I went to the Hampton Court Flower Show yesterday and was sauntering through the show gardens and it struck me... I find gardens with no edibles boring, like there's something serious missing!  Surely gardens should have something to offer all 5 senses and not deny the sense of taste?  Ornamentals are fine providing they have a few edibles for company.

And the great thing about this year's show is that there are so many edibles in the displays.  I particularly enjoyed the 5 A Day garden and the Dig for Victory garden but there were many more with edible fruit, vegetables and flowers in their displays.  On reflection, I think the Dig for Victory garden is my favourite as it had a slightly more natural and evolved look about it.  The 5 A Day garden just looked a little too new, but was great to show examples of beautiful food growing in a garden with limited space.  Also, at the stand they had free food growing planners showing what you could sow in which month and when it would crop.  I love these types of charts!

I find edibles really exciting.  They are full of possibility.  Ornamentals with no culinary or medicinal uses have only one purpose, but edibles have beautiful vegetables, fruit or herbs growing on them with endless possibilities.  The flowers on edibles have promise of more to come.  Although I have to admit that ornamentals are probably so much more if you are a honey bee.

It got even more exciting when I got to the huge edible area and talked enthusiastically with the exhibitors in the edible tent.  Found my favourite stand - Pennard Plants with their wonderful heirloom variety seeds, bought loads of Franchi seeds and my next year's garlic bulbs from The Garlic Farm.  I also bought a bunch of seeds from Jekka's Herb Farm stand.  Interestingly though I did buy a few packets of poppy seeds as I do think they are beautiful and I also like to grow cosmos as ornamentals too.  I also bought copious amounts of different varieties of nasturtiums as I love to add the leaves to my salads.

The visit got me thinking... why do I have this huge enthusiasm for all things edible?

I grew up on a 4 acre small holding in north Wales where my parents were attempting to be self sufficient.  All the food I ate had been created from the vegetables and fruit grown on the farm.  Also we had a goat which I milked every day with my mother, hens for providing us with eggs and the animals reared would eventually make their way to our plates.

As a child, walking into the garden always started with grabbing a generous handful of chives to munch on and then going on my way.  In spring and summer this included a detour via the pea patch, strawberry patch, raspberry patch... And then my next stop would be to go and find my father.  He was always doing something exciting in the vegetable garden like sowing new seeds.

So from very early on, the garden means grazing.  I have now graduated to cooking and making teas, with lemon verbena being my absolute favourite garden tea.  I guess it is only natural that these passions for taste would follow through to adulthood.


  1. Would love to get to Hampton Court sometime. Missed it on the telly too! Maybe some of those flowers were edible, quite a lot are.

  2. Hi Bridget

    Its on the TV this evening I think.

    I'm currently trying to build my knowledge on edible flowers like nasturtiums, honey suckle, calendula, etc and there are some flowers that I do quite like e.g. poppies, cosmos. There's also a whole host of herbal flowers out there like angelica.