We have put the garden to bed for the winter now, and I have to say I am really missing being out there all day every day and can't wait for the spring. I haven't forgotten the Seed Swap idea either and will let you know what I have available to exchange early in 2014
As the frosts start I have my fingers crossed for my new Lavender plants, though why I should worry I don't know, when I cam to transplant them even the tiny plants had put down a great long network of roots, they are bit like swans and icebergs, a great deal going on below the surface. We have one old plant that has survived some very severe winters in recent years and I have added varieties various to the collection this year after that inspiring visit to Cheristow Lavender Farm, and reading Sally Festing's book. Some Hidcote, and a Devon variety that we found at an out of the way place called Mr Pink's Herb Farm on the way home from Cheristow, plus several others grown from seed including all that Munstead, plus some Blue River and Provencal Blue and I will sow more in the Spring. When we finally got around to testing our soil it proved to be very alkaline, perfect for Lavender.
Mr Pink of the herb farm was a lovely chap, with a bit of land, some polytunnels and a trailer home, selling herbs at £1.50 each, and amongst them some really unusual old varieties. I had Gertrude Jekyll's list of Munstead Wood herbs with me and added Hyssop and Costmary to my little Physic Garden, along with Camphor Thyme. Costmary was used in medieval times as a place marker in Bibles, it has a lovely aroma so I hung some to dry and have added it to my homemade pot pourri.
The pot pourri idea sort of grew through the summer. It started with the 'Munstead Wood' rose, planted in a pot with the mycorrhizal fungi which I happened to hear about on a gardening programme. Apparently it helps the plant put down a good root system much faster and everything I have used it on has certainly thrived. Munstead Wood flowered prolifically for months dropping dozens of beautiful petals as each flower faded...
It seemed a shame to waste them, and then I looked at everything else in flower and thought how lovely it would be to have it indoors in some form through the winter....
It wasn't difficult, or even time-consuming. I just set some bowls on the window-sill and added the flowers when I came across them. As they dried I would put them all into a paper carrier bag which, in the best of traditions, I had completely forgotten about until a few weeks ago.
I haven't added any preservatives or Orris Root powder (where on earth do you find that??), just some drops of lavender oil, gave it a shake and tipped it into the only thing I could find, an old glass ice bucket.
The faded colours are just right, the glass shows them off beautifully; a lovely reminder of what went before, and hopefully the promise of much more that is to come next year.