Scented Geranium Tea

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I’ve got herbs on my mind at the moment as it’s all go in the new Herb Garden. The last few months have been mainly all about Project Cut Flower but last weekend Mr Fig surprised me by striding out through the Cut Flowers into the “Herb Garden To Be” wielding weed matting, pins and muttering about string and straight lines. Looks like my hints at cultivating another bit of the paddock had worked. I was Chief Tape Measure Holder…….and look at what we achieved!

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Not very pretty yet but at least it’s now a properly marked out area so I can hone my design a bit. I find that plans that look good in my head look totally different when I actually stand in the space I’m working on.  I have re-jigged my design again and again; each time making it more simple. The centre will be a small circular Chamomile Lawn and the hard landscaping will be pavers and gravel with little herbs tucked here and there in between. The L shaped beds round the sides will be packed with a mix of herbs – not many culinary ones though as I keep these nearer the house. There will also be 4 small square beds in symetrical pattern around the lawn. Not much to do then……!

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One of my more exciting new leafy additions will be scented geraniums (pelargoniums). I’ve been accumulating quite a collection. I have to admit that the flower isn’t anything special but the leaves are quite extra ordinary. Gently rub the leaf and sniff…..

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……..chocolate? Really? Try another and you might smell mint. I’ve also got orange, rose and anise.

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I find geraniums really easy to grow.  You don’t need to fuss too much about watering but apparently they do need a bit of shade and, being a tender annual, they are frost tender. It’s a good idea to take little cuttings and pot them up in the greenhouse or sunny windowsill over winter just in case the frost gets to your prized plants outside in the cold. Geraniums are very obliging plants and are obviously geneticlly engineered to multiply so taking cuttings is a cinch. Just snip off a stem and pop it into a pot of compost. It’ll happily put down roots and, with a bit of warmth in Spring, it will grow surprisingly quickly into an established plant.

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So why the new obsession with scented geraniums? Well, I’m quite partial to  scented geranium tea. It’s so easy to make and you can choose from a huge array of flavours or even go mad and combine a few for the ultimate Scented Geranium Tea Experience! I like mixing Perky Peppermint with Chocolate. This is what I do…..

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Pick a handful of your chosen geranium leaves. I pick the whole stalk to keep the plant looking tidy. Harvesting leaves for tea is a great way of controlling growth and pruning into shape. Wash the leaves and remove stalk. If the leaves are large tear them up a bit and you can chop up the stalks and add them in too if you like.

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Pop them into a teapot and pour on not-quite-boiled water. Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.

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There you go it really is as simple as that.  My other favourite is rose scented geranium tea – just like my fav chocolate bar Turkish Delight but healthier 🙂 Of course these teas are great chilled with some ice – especially the lemon flavoured one. Or you can even pick a small posy, tie it together and hang over the bath tap. As the water runs through the leaves it will infuse the water with yummy geranium scented loveliness. What a plant!

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Gone Wild

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Something very exciting happened on Tuesday! The stretch of dead looking land that flows like a ribbon around the new paddock gardens was finally rotavated and sown with hundreds and thousands of tiny little wildflower seeds!!

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Here’s the tractor ploughing up the soil so it’s nice and soft for the seed to take root.

We hummed and harred a bit about the small-ness of the seed. What would be the best way to distribute them evenly? Finally decided on the smallest bit of equipment they had….

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and even so….1.5kg of seed look pretty pathetic!!

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We were advised to sow 2-3 grams per 10m square so that’s what we did.  Not sure if my fingers will uncross this week before I see evidence of the tiny wild shoots peeping through. We were lucky enough to get a big shower of rain overnight which can only help. I chose quite a tall mix of wildflowers including marigold, lupin, cosmos, nigella, coreopsis, cornflower and poppy and the idea is to mow  a path through the field with little stopping points along the way. I’m thinking of adding a couple of fruit trees for shade too…..

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Talking of trees…..the Nuttery has been planted up with a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts and also some hawthorne, crabapples, kowhai, elderflower, Magnolia, Pomegranite, Taxodium, Eucalyptus and willow. Quite a mix! We planted in small groups of the same variety to avoid a “spotted” look and our choices were led by a desire for blossom, fruit, Autumn colour, appeal to birds and produce to eat or display in a vase. I hope we’ve got it right. The winding path takes you through the wood into a hazelnut circle and out onto the wildflower meadow where another path will begin. I was given some beautiful foxgloves from my Farmer Friend which I planted the very same day along the Nuttery path. They seem to like their new spot and are flowering happily.

The Cutting Garden is beginning to take shape slowly but surely. I’ve planted out almost two beds full of annual and perenniel seedlings. I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks as they bulk up and begin to flower. Some other flowery highlights from around the garden include this Cecil Brunner rose.

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It’s best to pick it when the buds are just open. If you pick a closed bud it will just droop in a vase. The scent is very delicate rather like the flower but it looks fabulous on it’s own or in a little posy. The climbing rose Casino that I planted in the vege garden last year is rampaging away and producing beautiful delicate yellow flowers on very strong stems. This will looks gorgeous with white scented stocks and purple cerinthe.

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The purpe cerinthe was transplanted from a shady spot to a sunnier position and it’s thriving. It’s foliage is as gorgeous as it’s flowers.

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I’m wondering how well chamomile will do in a vase. I know that Feverfew is very happy to mingle with others in a posy as are many other herbs so I’m going to experiment with Chamomile seeing as I have so much of it that self seeded from last year’s Spice bed.

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I’m really hoping that I’ll get the tall spiky pink flowers from my clary sage this year. I’ve lined the chicken walk with this very robust plant with it’s large hairy leaves and I’m hoping for a bit of colour from it this year.

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I’ve been experimenting with many of the spring flowers from the cutting garden although I left my tulips alone to hopefully build strength for next year because I was a little late planting them. I think ranunculus and anemones are amongst my faourite flowers ever. Picked regularly they go on and on and on – such a generous flower.

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Here is a red ranunculus with purple cerinth, frothy bronze fennel (smells delish!) and  what I think is a type of hypericum. There’s nothing like picking flowers from the garden!