I think the time has come to start introducing the Stallholders I've invited to participate at our SPRING GARDEN FAIR on 23 & 24 NOVEMBER. You see, I'm so excited about each and every one of them! Along with the garden itself, they will make up my quirky vision of a country garden fair...my favourite kind of day out! And I'm just so thrilled they all agreed to join in the fun!
But where to begin? I think this may need to be a little series of newsletters, so as not to overwhelm you all in one go! But there's a back-story to why I've invited each to participate, and I think it will make your visit more personal, if you know it.
SEEDLIP will have you sipping delightful botanicals under the peppercorn trees, out beyond the kitchen garden, alongside DOUG PURDIE of THE URBAN BEEHIVE. It's where I've sown fennel seed into the wire bed in the old home paddock, and have my fingers crossed it will make a hazy, romantic vision by then, alive with bees buzzing in the late spring sun!
I first stumbled upon SEEDLIP at the Chelsea Flower Show in London three years ago...(the same week The House and Garden at Glenmore had its London launch, at the then Chelsea shop of CABBAGES & ROSES).
It was quite a day! I'd been to visit Christina Strutt at C&R (who's latest version of a 'Guide to Natural Housekeeping' has just come out and I have copies in the Barn in time for open garden) to discuss the party details, before tripping off down the Kings Road (where the Waterstone's window caught my eye and to my amazement, there was my book fair and square in the doorway of their flower show display, alongside some gardening greats - well that caused the heartbeat to quicken for a moment!) and continuing on my merry way to the flower show.
After doing the rounds of the gardens made to impress (they do) and the displays in the big tent...I crossed over to the artisan gardens, which are on a much smaller scale and often captivating. Well...there I was, being swept along with the crowds as one is, when I literally stopped in my tracks, eyes transfixed, to a garden both wild and controlled at the same time...billowing with romantic plants; ferns, brackens, grasses, flowers of burnished tones and threaded with copper pipe work! "A garden to interpret the distillation process", inspired by 'The Art of Distillation', an ancient book discovered by Seedlip founder Ben Branson. Up 'til that moment, Seedlip hadn't crossed my path, but already I was hooked!
That garden was created by Dr Catherine MacDonald and I mentioned it in a blog post at the time (although the link to the garden description seems to have evaporated which is a shame because I really don't know where to find the hard copy in the muddle on my desk....that would be a January job!). But here is part of the Seedlip story, direct from the source:
"Over three hundred years ago, it was common for physicians to distil herbal remedies using copper stills, harnessing the power of nature and alchemy to solve medical maladies. In 1651, once such physician, John French, published 'The Art of Distillation', documenting these non-alcoholic recipes. At the same time, a family in Lincolnshire had started farming, hand sowing seeds using baskets called 'seedlips'."
"Centuries later, Ben stumbled across John French's recipes and began experimenting with them in his kitchen, using a small copper still and herbs from his garden. That might have been the end of the story, if he hadn't been given a sickly sweet pink mocktail one Monday evening in a restaurant. The result was the beginning of an idea to combine his farming heritage, love of nature, his copper still and forgotten recipes with the need for proper non-alcoholic options; a name inspired by the seed baskets carried by his family centuries before and a process of Seed to Lip: and so Seedlip was born."
You can discover the rest of the story for yourself here...I do encourage you to read on!
So, after being enthralled with that garden and the tale of a quest to make non-alcoholic drinks (no, I'm not teetotal!) at Chelsea three years ago...imagine my excitement at discovering Seedlip setting up a team in Sydney! Inviting them to participate in our spring garden fair set my mind in a spin and my heart all a-flutter! So I'm wild with excitement that they'll be here and that you will have the opportunity to sip a Seedlip drink, perched on a bale of straw at Glenmore!
That their bottles and labels (and contents of course!) are divine goes without saying...but I'm saying anyway; and putting several on your drinks tray over the holiday season is a must!
Drawing attention to the plight of bees, is also high on Seedlip's goals; so it makes perfect sense to place bee man DOUG PURDIE nearby...with our hives in full view, and the extra bed of fennel that should bee a pollen attraction by then! I'm sure many of you have Doug's books 'Backyard Bees' and 'The Bee Friendly Garden'. Doug and I were both guest speakers at Roz Seppelt's open garden in South Australia earlier this year and I'm delighted he's coming here too. I know he'll be more than happy to answer all your buzzing bee questions and all being well, if you feel inclined, take you on a hive inspection.
I imagine I've overdone it again....so I'll leave you now and be back with more stallholder news next week! In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. All details for the weekend are on the Open Garden webpage.
Very best wishes as always,
ps remember ENTRY will be $10 CASH ONLY! If you pop away a note or two now, it will make life for our volunteers at the gate more simple, and prevent queues along our little road! Once inside, we have better coverage, so cards should work elsewhere. But reception in the country (even this close to Sydney) can be erratic, so please be prepared!
pps don't fret if you missed out on a place at lunch in the Hayshed! Marty is also going to make 'tartines' for you to enjoy on the hoof....more news next time!