Saturday, 6 June 2015

Recipe for 4 Thieves Vinegar

I haven’t had coffee all week, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I have to say, I think it actually helped settle my stomach. I didn’t go all out cold turkey however, as I still had a daily cup of tea, thus avoiding the headaches commonly associated with caffeine withdrawal.

But it is the weekend, the sun is shining and I’m feeling a little French, so a petit café (little coffee) is keeping me company as I type. Oh yes, it’s great to be good; but God it’s good to be bad.

To fulfil my yearning for a little piece of France this morning I have been looking at two of my major girl crushes online - Inès de la Fressange, who I discovered in the 1980’s, whilst she was Karl Lagerfield’s muse for Chanel. Now in her 50’s, still gorgeous with a seemingly effortless chic she has a newsletter - La Lettre d’Inès.

Inès de la Fressange from her newsletter

Inès de la Fressange

The other is the illustrator and style blogger Garance Dore. Here is a picture of Garance with newly cropped hair wearing a dress at Cannes 2015.

Garance Dore

I love Garance Dore’s stylish illustrations.

Illustration © Garance Dore

One of the products Inès mentions in her newsletter is Vinaigre des 4 Voleurs

The name intrigued me so I did a little research and discovered this herbal tincture supposedly kept alive 4 thieves who robbed graves during the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720. Legend has it that under threat of death they divulged their life-saving secret, which was a herbal infusion. 

There are several different recipes online, I have badly translated one below. 

It can be used as an antiseptic aftershave, to treat dandruff even taken diluted as a health tonic for all varieties of ailment from acid reflux to general sickness.

La fameuse recette du Vinaigre des 4 Voleurs  
The famous recipe for 4 Thieves Vinegar

Dans 1 litre de vinaigre de cidre mettez ces plantes séchées: 
Add these dried herbs to 1 litre of cider vinegar.

20 g de romarin (20g rosemary)
20 g de lavande (20g lavender)
20 g de sauge (20g sage)
20 g d’absinthe (20g artemisia absinthium - wormwood)
20 g de rue (20g common rue - ruta graveolens)
20 g de thym (20g thyme)
20 g de menthe (20g mint)
3 g de muscade en poudre (3g powdered nutmeg)
30 clous de girofles ou 3g de poudre de girofles (30 cloves)
3 g de cannelle en poudre (3g ground cinnamon)
3 gousses d’ail (3 garlic cloves)
5 g de camphre (5g camphor - Cinnamomum Camphora)


Vous laissez macérer pendant 10 à 15 jours, puis vous filtrez et vous mettez en bouteilles.  La conservation doit se faire au frais et à l’abri de la lumière.

Leave to macerate for 10 to 15 days then sieve into bottles and keep in a cool dark place out of direct sunlight. 

I might try it, although apparently it tastes and smells abhorrent! And I may attempt to plant up a 4 thieves herb bed at my new allotment.

Herb Garden at Pantry Garden Herbs




Monday, 25 May 2015

Highlights from Chelsea Flower Show - that you won't see on the telly!


Welcome to the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2015.

Entrance to the Flower Show

I’m glad this Chelsea Pensioner elephant found it’s rightful home, I blogged about the Elephant Parade back in 2010.

Chelsea Pensioner Elephant at the entrance to Chelsea Hospital Grounds

Chelsea Flower Show isn’t all flowers and plants there are stalls selling everything from treehouses to greeting cards. The Chelsea way, it would seem, is to offset your wares with planting, especially for the larger products.  

Harrod Horticutural sign offset with lovely planting of purple Heuchera, Sweet Woodruff and white Umbellifers.

Chelsea planter

Garden sculptures in front of The Pavillion.

Air head?

How about a garden sculpture painstakingly made from shells? The main attractions were the larger than life Stag made from tiny cowries with conch and a towering Medusa fountain. Yes really.

Cowrie shell stag 
Staggering shell work
Medusa made from shells
Shell swan
Shell body of swan with thyme
Or perhaps driftwood sculpture is more your thing?

Driftwood Goat sculpture by James Doran
Driftwood dragon - James Doran
These amazing sculpture are made from pieces of driftwood by James Doran and towered over passers-by. I could see that dragon right at home on the Belle Mere’s pergola. 

Driftwood horse by James Doran
Cantering horses in the Bull Ring at Chelsea Hospital.

Amazing driftwood horse by James Doran at RHS Chelsea 2015
Another horse, this giant bronze Anadalusia Stallion sculpture is by Hamish Mackie and was commissioned by Berkley Homes to gallop through their new development at Goodman’s Fields.

Hamish Mackie
Alice in Wonderland was a familiar theme this year. Robert James featured an impressive collection of brass garden statues and water features.

Brass Caterpillar sculpture by Robert James RHS Chelsea 2015
A fox and a tiger.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015
I rather liked this ceramic conker by Penkridge Ceramics who produce all sorts of amazing plant forms in clay, from pears to cherries to acorns. Lovely!  

Penkridge Ceramics Still Life Studies in Clay
 Yellow gardening gloves are the way forward.

Yellow gardening gloves

Every garden needs a champagne and glass holder.

RHS Chelsea 2015

Emma Bridgewater has made a delightful Chelsea Flower Show mug for the RHS which you can buy along with other merchandise here.

Emma Bridgewater Chelsea Flower Show Mug 2015

Many men wear lightly creased linen jackets.

RHS Chelsea 2015
Or paisley trousers...

RHS Chelsea 2015

A rotating treehouse...

RHS Chelsea 2015
A Pimms stall a little too early in the day for Pimms o’clock.

RHS Chelsea 2015
A novel way to keep things cool on a Summer’s day?

RHS Chelsea 2015
There were lots of stalls for eating and drinking and even some full blown restaurants set up for the occasion including the The Laurent Perrier Orangery.

RHS Chelsea 2015
Chelsea empties.

RHS Chelsea 2015
RHS Chelsea 2015

RHS Chelsea 2015
An Avenue lined with stalls.

RHS Chelsea 2015
And so to the flowers... There were lots of lupins and iris in the planting, along with cultivated varieties of lacy white cow parlsey. Purple and white was a popular colour-way, one of my faves at the moment.

Lupins and Iris
Purple and white again in the many named: Aquilegia, Columbine or Granny’s Bonnets.

Aquilegia

And foliage can be just as eye-catching.

RHS Chelsea 2015

RHS Chelsea 2015
A carpet of wild campion.

RHS Chelsea 2015
RHS Chelsea 2015

Artichokes and geum
Kolrahbi and fennel

Iris and lambs ears

Iris

Vegetable planter

Arid plants

I did catch site of Monty Don in the flesh.

The BBC stand
These pictures were all taken outside at Chelsea, a Pavillion post will follow. I’m off swimming with Erbie now as it’s the bank holiday.

NB: All photos by ©SaraHodgkinson. All opinions are my own. No products mentioned in this post are sponsored.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Winning Garden at Chelsea by Dan Pearson for Chatsworth

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket to Chelsea Flower Show, a gardener’s Mecca. Although I don’t actually have a garden I do have an allotment and a large windowsill / ledge; large enough for a dwarf apple tree. I dropped Erbie at school and whizzed off to Sloane Square tube to follow the hoards on their way to the flower show housed in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.

It was amazing, for a novice and so much to see. I flitted around like a newly emerged butterfly and managed to take over 500 pictures in the process; finishing with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne then back to pick Erbie up from school at 3.30pm. Result!

One of my favourite gardens was Dan Pearson’s: The Laurent Perrier Champagne Garden. Dan is a firm believer in naturalistic gardening and having been absent for a few years, says this will be his last garden at Chelsea.

His inspiration was drawn from Chatsworth House, particularly the trout stream and rockery. The garden was set in a crossroads, just before the BBC filming area and unmissable with a huge outcrop of rock jutting out over the pathway.

I love, love, loved it and some parts were so naturalistic the comment: ‘weeds I normally try and get rid of’ was overheard more than once. I had a special leap in my heart as it contained one of my favourite ‘weeds’; and in a colour I had noticed over the past two years growing on a front garden path just up the road. I kept meaning to ask if I could take one, but then this year it wasn’t there. Dan Pearson did you get your white Herb Robert from a front garden in North London?!

Enough of my piffle, here are a few pics of Dan Pearson’s Chelsea garden (don’t worry not all 500 of them).

The rocky outcrop
The gorgeous (in my opinion) white Herb Robert in the Chelsea over-all-winner Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden - I’d love to know where you got this from Dan!


White Herb Robert. 
Herb Robert in white.

Another of my favourite flowers, which used to grow in my mum’s garden - Solomon’s Seal Polygonatum x hybridum AGM, with it’s white drop flowers dipped in green strung on a leafy arc. Polygonatum in many several versions was popular at Chelsea this year and I hope to see it making a come back in our gardens.

Miniature Solomon’s Seal in the rockery 
The naturalistic approach in the foreground. A weed is only a weed if it is in the wrong place if it is in the intended place -  it’s called planting... That’s my kinda gardening.

Naturalist approach
The naturalistic approach in the fore at the over-all winning garden of Chelsea
Pops of white I think these may be some kind of Ranunculus or more familiarly a white buttercup.

Ranunculus?
 After the rockery at Chatsworth, here in the garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2015.


There were also a lot of lacy white umbellifers in the gardens at Chelsea this year from the giant Angelica to this petite Cow Parsley.

A tiny form of Cow Parsley

 A lovely shrub - with dusky pink bell flowers and leaves that turn a fiery red before dropping in the Autum - Enkianthus campanulatus AGM

Enkianthus campanulatus AGM
Lovely planting of narcissus coming up through the grass alongside red campion, which we’d go looking for at a certain roadside in Wiltshire after the bluebells had finished flowering.


Ferns amongst the grasses, this spiky one is: Matteuccia struthiopteris AGM

Grasses and fern in the Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden at Chelsea 

Yep this IS part of a garden at Chelsea!

 A sculptural tree stump behind a yellow azalea Rhododendron lutem which is a non-native species.

Laurrent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden, Chelsea 2015
Pops of red from delicate tulips in the grass in the grass behind a delicate dog rose.

Laurrent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden, Chelsea 2015

Briar rose
Dan also used a beautiful white forget-me-not, I had a feeling they’d get in there somewhere, I shall do a post on my personal round up of Chelsea flowers of the moment soon. But for now I leave you with a Hawthorn tree.

Chelsea Flower Show 2015







Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”
WEM

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”
Clockwise

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle