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.
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 !
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.
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 !