Herbs at The Hundred House

Last year, Stuart visited  Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons; as well as learning new techniques for creating unusual and delicious breads, Stuart was also introduced to some new varieties of exotic herb. This sparked ideas for redevelopment of the herb garden, which has been an important part of The Hundred House since it began. Construction started about two months ago, with the creation of 14 raised beds.As with everything at The Hundred House, it was a fabulous team effort, including the help of Ron,who took part in the original refurbishment in 1985. Henry and Stuart decided to use a raised bed system, which allows for easier management of the variety of herbs used. This means a greater range of herb plants can be grown,which turn provides an array of new flavours and menu inspiration.
Henry starting work on the new raised beds

Henry starting work on the new raised beds

Ron, described by henry as "the best bricklayer in the world", using his many skills to help in the construction of the beds

Ron, described by Henry as “the best bricklayer in the world”, helping with construction.

During my day at The Hundred House, I was able to spend time with their resident  plant expert and gardener, Denise, who describes herself as passionate about growing. Her joy and enthusiasm for the garden  is infectious, and I came away with some useful tips for growing herbs at home. Denise explained that herbs are an ideal project  for a new gardener, or if space is limited. Many herbs are Mediterranean in origin, so they are tolerant of dry conditions,and  are happy in grow in pots or window boxes. Herbs can also provide attractive and useful borders for flowerbeds. Their only special requirement is lots of sun. She also passed on an excellent piece of advice which was to to grow only what I like to eat !

What a difference a few months make !
What a difference a few months make !
New herbs and salad leaves, almost ready to be used
New herbs and salad leaves, almost ready to be harvested

Denise explained that the new beds include edible flowers, such as nasturtium and viola, which are delicious in salads, as well as unusual varieties of coriander, and oriental greens, alongside less common examples of familiar varieties, such as thyme,fennel and mint.
Komatsuna leaves, which can be used in a range of salads soups or stir fries, giving a spicy,vibrant flavour.

Komatsuna leaves, which can be used in a range of salads soups or stir fries, giving a spicy,vibrant flavour.

Lemon Corainder is just beginning to emerge. This will be used for Moroccan inspired dishes such as Tagines,and fragrant couscous.

Lemon Coriander is just beginning to emerge. This will be used for Moroccan inspired dishes such as Tagines,and fragrant couscous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations of familiar herbs , such as garlic chives are included.

Variations of familiar herbs , such as garlic chives are included in the new herb garden.

A range of beetroot will form part of many exciting dishes.

A selection of  beetroot will form part of many innovative  dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new herb garden is part of the ongoing development of The Hundred House, and as Denise says, there are very few eating establishments that can boast such an extensive culinary garden. She really enjoys the fact that she has been part of the process of the creation of the food served here.

One of the most special things about the gardens at The Hundred House is that they contribute to the unique experience of being a guest. Whether dining or staying in one of the luxurious rooms, guests are free to wander through the gardens,relishing the peaceful atmosphere. Being able to see exactly how local the ingredients are, is an added bonus.The Hundred House herb garden was a charming place to spend the afternoon, and I’m looking forward to sampling some of the new dishes. Perhaps I can be chief taste tester for the next blog !

Beautiful, calm surroundings

Calm and relaxing

Thatch,Flowers, and Frogs

 

Spring is here, and has brought with it the exciting rejuvenation of the thatch on the oldest part of the Hundred House Hotel, the beautiful 15th century barn.This is part of ongoing restoration of this historic building, which began in 1986 when the Phillips family undertook the task of creating their hotel, restaurant and beautiful gardens.

The barn before it's new look, it was last re thatched in 1961!

The barn before it’s new look, it was last re thatched in 1961!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to grab a few moments with master thatcher of 16 years, Paul Draycott, to find out a little more about his craft.

As a novice to the world of thatch,it surprised me that the material used is not straw,but water reed, sourced from East Anglia, or further afield as demand dictates. Water Reed is a naturally water resistant material, which has been used for centuries to protect homes and other dwellings from the elements.

To create a traditional thatched roof, the thatcher lays bundles, of up to 6 foot in length, on top of each other to create an impenetrable layer. The final roof is around 12 inches thick, and relies on the forces of gravity to help the ensure the wind, rain and snow to flow down the thatch.

 

Bundles of water reed, ready to be layered.

Bundles of water reed, ready to be layered.

 

Layers are built up to create an impenetrable surface.

Layers are built up to create an impenetrable surface.

The completed thatch will last around 40 years, so Paul does not expect to have to return, other than to carry out scheduled maintenance to the ridge, which will happen around every ten years. Paul works all over the region , sometimes driving for over two hours to reach a location. This creates some amusement for his associates in the South West, who have a short walk to their daily labours, so Paul finds working near to his home town a welcome change. Paul estimates that his work here will take around six weeks, and as you can see it is pretty close to completion.

Stuart inspecting progress

Stuart inspecting progress

 

Jo braving the ladders to take a closer look at the craftsmanship.

Jo braving the ladders to take a closer look at the craftsmanship.

 

 

The last part of the thatch will be Paul’s signature pheasant, which he uses to identify his work…..you can spot them around the county, recent locations include a boat house in Himley, and a cottage in nearby Ackleton.

The ridge is almost complete, ready for the attachment of Paul's signature pheasant.

The ridge is almost complete, ready for the attachment of Paul’s signature pheasant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundred House Time Capsule

To add a little Hundred House flair, and to add even more history to this beautiful building, the team have created a time capsule, which is secured in the roof, ready to be opened  at the next replacement in forty years time. The capsule includes memories of significant events, alongside details of the day to day running of the hotel, which will delight future generations of the Phillips family,and their guests as well as providing a little surprise for the next thatcher !

Stuart handing over the timecapsule.

Stuart handing over the time capsule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Ta-da…….The Finished Article!”

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……..and two Pheasants, mates for the next 40 odd years!

Spring has also brought excitement in the gardens. Alongside the beautiful blooms in the pots and borders, the Hundred House has it’s very own frog nursery! They are already delighting guests who are taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather.

Spring really has sprung!

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Hyancinths ready to welcome guests

Hyancinths ready to welcome guests

 

 



Frogs and Tadpoles enjoying the sunshine.

Frogs and Tadpoles enjoying the sunshine.