At last the weather has warmed and most cold winds have eased… we hope!
The Walled Garden shelters vegetable beds are bursting with growth. Twelve varieties of lettuce like little gem and salad bowl, interspersed with different leaves like freckles whose mottled leaves look the part! To add interest, a French heirloom variety ‘Marvel of Four Season (Merville de quatre saison) whose attractive pink tinged leaves are described as having crisp texture and a fine flavour. The prolific salad leaves are harvested fresh daily to supply the busy Garden Café.
The thriving brassica beds already provide kale and calibrese with any extra offered for sale at the Potting Shed Shop.
What a variety of vegetables are growing in the Garden this year! broad beans, french beans, sugar snap, mangetout, carrots, courgettes, cauliflower, leeks, onions, beetroot, spinach, swiss chard, – whew- and more!! Many potatoes are already in flower. Well known varieties like charlotte, rocket and pink fir apple are interspersed with new tatties to try such as swift, foremost and purple flowering caledonian rose.
In the small greenhouse chillies, melon and cucumber are growing well. Tomatoes in the large greenhouse already show promising trusses of fruit.
In the soft fruit garden the first strawberries are ready to pick. I could not resist tasting one as a ‘quality control check’ and I can verify the fruit is as sweet and flavoursome as any Scottish strawberry. You cannot beat strawberries grown outside in the full sun, perfection! Gooseberries, black and red currants hang in profusion as they ripen, forming fruits of raspberries and brambles promise an abundant crop later in the summer.
Lavender is on the cusp of full flower, that unique time when tips of purple and white emerge swaying gently in the breeze, a rippling sea of tiny flowers. All is buzzing with bees and the Garden’s six hives tended by beekeeper Jim will soon yield the first honey of the year.
Planted up, rapidly greening and budding, the cut flower beds offer a hint of the riot of colour soon to illuminate the Garden. The first sweet peas, gold and blue flag irises are joined by sedate delphiniums and fox gloves watching over the scene in quiet grandeur. The first trial bed cosmos flowers have come into bloom.
The central borders look lush and green and surprises of colourful blooms are silently emerging through the foliage.
The wild flower meadows will soon be filled with every different shape, size and colour of flower you could imagine but in the grass maze there is a special discovery to find, a beautiful wild orchid. Walk through the maze, listen to the plaintive cry of the oysters catchers trying to divert your attention from their young, keep looking and you will find this purple treasure.
The wild flowers are just about to bloom in the sweet pea meadow and the crab apple orchard, not long now!
The Potting Shed Shop is selling a huge variety of plants so you can take some of the beauty of Gordon Castle Gardens home to enjoy. Verbena, pelargoniums, argyranthemums, herbs, salad plants and hand tied early summer flower bouquets. Along with fresh vegetables as they are harvested.
Enjoy peace and tranquillity in the garden greeted by the open arms of summer glory!
Perhaps visit the Walled Garden Café serving freshly cooked meals using garden produce wherever they can. Open 11am till 4pm Wednesday till Sunday.
‘ Haste ye back’ there is always a warm welcome.
German Strawberry cake
Makes a round tin 20cm (8in
- 2 eggs
60g (2oz) caster sugar
60g (2oz) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
100g (3 ½ oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
175g (6oz) strawberries
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan) 375F, Gas 5. Oil and line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper. Whisk the eggs and sugar together till they are thick and creamy, stir in the butter, flour and baking powder very gently to keep as much air as possible in the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and tap on the counter to ensure it is evenly spread and to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes till risen and firm to touch. Cool a little in the tin then remove from the tin by loosening the sides with the blade of a knife. Place the cake sponge side down onto a wire cooling rack, tap gently on the bottom of the inverted tin and the cake should drop out onto the rack.
When cool spread the top thinly with jam. Trim and slice the strawberries and lay overlapping on top of the jam spread cake. Melt the rest of the jam with a little water and brush gently over the fruit to glaze. Enjoy freshly baked.
Kindly written by Liz Ashworth for Gordon Castle Walled Garden.