Friday, May 02, 2008

Enjoying the garden

What you see above may well not look especially exciting. It is, after all, just a plate of salad leaves drizled with some (particularly good) extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little sea salt. But it was one of the most delicious things I've eaten in the past week. The key reason for this, is that it was just four minutes that elapsed between picking the leaves from my garden and eating them. Fresh as a daisy just tastes so much better.

I have to be totally honest here and confess that I have not grown these lovely leaves from seed. I've been wanting to grow a little more in the way of fruit and veg in my garden for a while, but the small city shoebox that I inhabit does not offer a huge amount in terms of garden. I am restricted to pots and (as the garden is so small) it all has to look nice. I can't hide the veg in a quiet corner. All is very much on display.

It was the lovely Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking who inspired me to finally get going on planting some edible plants. She has a envy-inducing vegetable patch and was kind enough to send me some tips and information regarding what grows well in pots. I read it all carefully. As I have little space inside for nurturing seedlings, I decided it would be best to plant established plants and go from there. I'm starting with tomatoes, strawberries, various salad leaves and lots of herbs.

Sage and Thyme

I wouldn't give up my London garden for anything in the world. Having outdoor space when living in such a gritty capital a luxury that keeps me sane. Whilst I love the hustle and bustle that metropolis has to offer, there is nothing better than arriving home on a warm evening and taking a glass of wine into the garden. I love breathing in the fragrant, floral air, watching the plants grow a little each day and even the daily battle with slugs and snails. It is a true retreat.


I thought I'd share a few photos from my garden. If I can fight off the aforementioned slugs and snails, I hope to be enjoying tomatoes and strawberries later in the season...

Rocket, mizuna, chard, lollo rosso, lamb's lettuce, lamb's cress, coriander, chives and parsley

Tomatoes (totem)

I couldn't resist this pretty lavender tree - the smell is just gorgeous. I've seen quite a few recipes using lavender and have tried lavender ice-cream. I'm not yet convinced, I have to say!


These sweet peas are a total mystery to me. They usually flower in the height of summer. Mine have never stopped flowering! They had flowers all through the winter months and are still going.

Strawberry plant

Geranium and trailing lobelia

Viola pansy

And finally (for it would be remiss of me to leave you with no food), here is my favourite seasonal delight: asparagus. I spent the weekend with my parents at home on the Isle of Wight and today we picked up a huge bunch of asparagus from a farm shop. This particular asparagus is grown on the shoreline, amongst the seaweed apparently. It was superb. Served simply with melted butter, some Parmesan shavings and plenty of black pepper; it was a real treat. Even more so because we served it along with some hard-boiled quail's eggs. Delicious. Summer is truly on the way...


Pixie said...

Antonia, thanks for sharing your garden with us- I'd love to learn more about what you can grow in pots as all I have are my windowsills. I'm going to be full of envy seeing everyone's gardens over the summer ;)

Shall be picking up some asparagus today.

Wendy said...

Wonderful photos! How very exciting! Looks like your going to have lotsof homegrown oroduce to enjoy this year. :)
Highly amused to hear you say that I gave you advice. Makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about!

Lucy said...

Antonia, your garden grows so well!

Asparagus and quails eggs - such a gorgeous combination. You know, I think you're right on the mark when you say that the fresher and snappier your greens, the tastier they are. I grew wild rocket from seed thos year and it was wonderful.

The sweet peas are so lush. Lovely, joyous post.

Nan said...

Look at all your wonderful vegetables and plants! After a long, cold winter, I'm very excited that summer is here! Thanks for sharing :)

Alfie said...

Antonia - your garden looks wonderful - a real haven :o)Beautiful pics. I love the Island, I too have realtives living there and have a real soft spot for it's laid back beauty.

Rosie said...

What a wonderful post Antonia, I feel that I have had a tour around your most lovely garden! You can't beat growing a little of your own produce!!

Rosie x

Antonia said...

Pixie - you are welcome. I'll keep you posted on what works well. The tomatoes are varieties that apparantly grow well in window boxes (they don't require staking), so hopefully they will work.

Wendy - thank you again for sending that information - really kind of you!

Lucy - the asparagus was indeed delciious with the quails eggs. I'm amazed by the sweet peas - they are obviously very happy in their pot!

Nan - I know - isn't it great to see the sun after a long winter?

Alfie - hello, thank you for calling by. I always enjoy a break on the island - so relaxing.

Rosie - I only wish I could grow more. One day I hope to have my very own proper vegetable garden, like the one I grew up with. Of course, I didn't appreciate it back then!!

Joy said...

Oh I envy you your garden you lucky thing! I have 2 window boxes with a load of herbs but I would love to have room for more. Maybe I should try some salad leaves, where did you buy yours? I tried to grow sweet peas in the window box last year (they're my favourite) but the wigwam I fashioned was dangerously top heavy and I feared for the neighbours below. I did get one solitary bloom though!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Eating the garden sounds like a great little meal to me. Unfortunately mine consists of just herbs and grass so I don't think it would be too appetizing right now!

Antonia said...

Joy - I cheated with the salad leaves. I bought the little plants ready-planted in the tub from a plant sale that was taking place at the Sunday farmers' market in Clapham South - just off the Abbeville Road. They are growing like wildfire - can hardly eat them fast enough!

Scott - there is indeed something really satisfying about eating the garden!