July Newsletter 2009

Hello and welcome to our July newsletter.

It was our intention to make cocktails using herbs for this month’s newsletter, but we have been really busy during June and simply didn’t get round to it. Probably just as well – I can imagine it could turn into quite a long evening with lots of tasting involved. What everyone has been doing is eating lots of salads as the hot weather has meant these have ‘gone over’ in the pots making them un-saleable but still very edible. Un-saleable generally means they are starting to throw up flower stalks – and being annuals it signals the end of their lives as a useful cut and come again leaf producer. I’ve always said if possible to leave these plants in situ to flower and produce seed which can always be collected for resowing or left to self seed. During early spring this year I grew coriander and rocket in my greenhouse at home and this has now flowered and the seed is slowly ripening. The plants look an absolute mess and it’s very tempting to just rip them out – but I’m determined to have self sown salads into the autumn and winter.

Clary Sage

The Monkshood aconitum napellus I have growing in the garden is now in flower and it looks stunning. It goes by many other names including wolfs bane, old woman’s nightcap and Friars cap. Although it is a herb it isn’t one we would ever sell, as it is very poisonous both internally and externally. It is, in fact, considered to be one of the most poisonous plants in the UK and is not recommended for growing where there are children or pets. It should always be handled with gloves; the active ingredients can be absorbed through the skin as well as causing skin irritations. On saying that it is an interesting plant with a long history. It is a hardy perennial plant with fleshy roots and grows to about five foot. In Greek legends the plant originated from the saliva dripping from the fangs of a three-legged dog called Cerberus. The generic name 'aconitum' comes from the ‘akoniton’ meaning dart because as you can imagine it has been used throughout history to poison the tips of spears and arrowheads. As a very powerful nerve poison it is used in analgesic medicine to alleviate pain. This can only be administerd by qualified medical practitioners. Symptoms of poisoning are stomach pains and vomiting, laboured breathing and a slow pulse leading to circulatory collapse, asphyxia, paralysis and death. Hospitals do carry antidotes to the poison.


Some plants we sell are grown only for a short period of time and are sold only during a certain month or two, things such as courgette, pumpkin and nasturtium. There tends to be a handful of very sad looking specimens that don’t get sold – this may be because they have been taken to a show and become damaged, or greenfly cause the leaves to crinkle rendering them unsaleable or even something simple like being shadowed by a neighbouring plant and growing weak and spindly. These tend to go into the gardens of people who work at the nursery and once they are in some good soil with a bit of sun they romp away. Thought I’d include a couple of photos of such plants – the nasturtiums started as three very broken specimens which came back from a show, the pumpkin as a yellow leaved plant that had been left in a small pot for far too long and the clary sage a sad little thing from last year that simply hadn’t been sold and consisted of two small yellow leaves – it was simply stuck in the ground last October.


Lemon Fizz


On a slightly different note; we have been contacted by Juliet Redden from Silver River Productions who are making a second series of the BBC2 show 'Grow Your Own Drugs'. She is looking for people who suffer from a variety of conditions who are interested in trying out a plant based remedy to help soothe their ailments and has asked us to publicise this in the Newsletter. See the flyer below.

Think that’s all for this month – hope you have been enjoying the sun, its been a pleasant change to all the rain we had last year, though there have been a few violent showers now. Enjoy July.