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Archive for the ‘Tomatoes’ Category

Tomatoes at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere

I love visiting gardens, but it’s not often that a garden completely exceeds all your expectations. However, the field of tomatoes at Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire really took my breath away and I’m now yearning for a larger, sunnier garden (preferably walled) to try out a fair few of the 630 varieties that were on offer. Yes, six hundred and thirty!

Toamto Beams Yellow Pear

I can’t say that I counted them all, but there were row upon row of beautifully trained (and labelled) fruits in all shapes, sizes and colours and although I try to avoid dumping loads of gratuitous photos, I’m going to have to share a fair few pics of cultivars that caught my eye. Above is the mini light bulb shaped Beam’s Yellow Pear. Not quite as tasty as its natty looks suggest, but I’d be very happy for it to grace my salad bowl any summery day for its form alone.

Toamto Banana LegsYellow tomatoes kept on catching my eye as we gently wandered around the garden. Banana Legs was firm and delicious and available from Nicky’s Seeds, (who stock around 150 varieties of tomatoes). Definitely a good UK seed supplier to start with if you’re looking to try out a few different tomato varieties.

Toamto Black Zebra

Striped Black Zebra was good and tasty, as were many of the larger ‘black’ varieties. Without a greenhouse, it can be a bit of a gamble as to whether the larger black varieties will ripen in the UK, but one of the cooks recommended Ananas Noir, a big meaty brute of a fruit, and of the varieties we tasted, this was the most delicious. Also on next year’s list.

Tomato Veronique

Loved the look of Veronique,

Tomato Grinta at Chateau de la Bourdaisiereand Grinta.

(more…)

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Sumptuous curves of Amsterdam

Inspired by Wellywoman’s Golden Welly awards, I thought I’d have a look back over the year and round-up some of my favourite horticultural experiences. So in no particular order (other than what first pops into my head)…..

On the third weekend every June, usually hidden Canal Gardens in Amsterdam are open to the public, so I popped over to Holland with fellow blogger Veronica (you can just see her there in the background) to have a look. (In 2013 Open Canal gardens are 14-16 June ).I have to admit, the omnipresent box parterres were slightly overwhelming by the end of the weekend, but I loved the giant curvaceous sculptural box forms in this garden at Kerkstraat 67.

Sumptuously curvy hedging in Amsterdam 2

Impeccably maintained, this garden was the most inspirational by far out of the 25 gardens or so that we packed in over the two days.

pots in Amsterdam 2

I haven’t been to Amsterdam for years, and I’d forgotten what a fantastic place it is just to hang out. And maybe the real horticultural treat for me over the weekend was not so much the canal gardens (although some were stunning), but the great planting that you see in the streets throughout this beautiful city.

pots in Amsterdam_

At every turn, pots were bursting with blooms,

Streets of Amsterdam

and roses adorned all manner of objects, seemingly springing out of deep concrete. Amazing!

De Kas Restaurant in Amsterdam

To complete our horticulturally themed weekend, we dined at De Kas restaurant, a short tram ride just outside the city centre. It’s a fabulous spot. Vegetable beds surround an enormous revamped municipal greenhouse and dining in this open airy structure added to the joy of eating their delicious meals, where fresh produce from the gardens is used as much as possible.

Black Krim tomatoes

Back in Blighty, I know it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but Black Krim, a beefsteak variety which I’d tasted the previous summer at Victoriana Nurseries , was another curvaceous delight. It looks wild and tastes great. Really meaty and rich. I’m definitely growing these again next year. (more…)

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The walled kitchen garden is like a secret garden at Wiveton Hall. I only know it’s there as a friend rented a wing in Wiveton Hall a couple of years ago, and let me in on the secret. And it’s a delight. In fact, I ‘d go as far as saying I’d die happy if I had such a garden of my own! It is open twice a year for the National Gardens Scheme, or you can just pay £2 in the farm shop to go and see it, but it’s not advertised heavily in the café, shop or on the website, so you could also easily miss it!

Once you enter, the whole feel of the garden is slightly unkempt,

and all the more charming for it.

However, the professional hand of Amanda, the gardener, is evident throughout, as she conjures up an endless supply of fresh vegetables and herbs for the Wiveton Hall Cafe, to complement fruit and veg grown in the Wiveton Hall Farm (which is also ‘Pick Your Own’ for fruit during summer).

Trained fruit trees clothe all aspects of the walled garden

and fig trees have the space to develop into large specimens (which would easily outgrow the whole of my front garden!)

I’m not sure if the garden is quite a potager as the ornamental plants surround the edibles in long herbaceous borders, rather than mixing in with the vegetables to create an overall  decorative design (have a read of Petra’s latest post on ornamental edibles at Edulis),

but this slightly ramshackle kitchen garden is a beautiful

and productive space combined.

After you’ve had your fill of flowers and veg, you can saunter over to the café for the tastiest lunch around for miles (or for tea and whole array of very tempting cakes) and gaze across the marshlands and out to sea. Delia also highly rates this eaterie and if you’re ever near the north Norfolk coast, both garden and cafe should not be missed!

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