Thursday, 3 September 2015

Harvest in September

This year, I have been growing one of my favourite cherry tomatoes, 'Sungold'. You may recall I grew this variety on the Big Allotment Challenge last year in Episode 4 which won me a Best in Show award.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Vinothec Compass - An evening of Gastronomy and Golf

For some respite from the daily grind in Canary wharf, head over to the Vinothec Compass, where you can swing away the stress of the day with champagne and Basque pintxo bites, before settling down for Spanish casual fine-dining at the adjoining restaurant.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summer Posy of cut flowers from the garden

In the garden, pretty summer blooms are waiting to be picked at every corner of the garden.

Lavender blue Scabious with their pin cushion centres and delicate, frilly petals are one of my favourite cut flower. Small white rose buds brought into the house, gently release their fragrance, as they open into full bloom. 

I also pick hot pink Antirrhinum (snap dragons as they are commonly called), the daisy-like Cosmos, intense purple clusters of tiny flowers from the Verbena bonariensis, coriander which has begun to flower, bright blue corn flowers and spiky balls of blue Eryngium sea holly. 

The flowers are casually arranged in this handcrafted posy vase, a perfect little vase to display cut flowers from the garden. 

There aren't any formulas here, just follow your heart.

'Margaret Merril' rose, 'Clive Greaves' scabiosa, Verbena bonariensis, Antirrhinum 'pink'
'Posy Vase' available from : LSA International, £16

Also seen here is 'Elements' coffee table by Camerich

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Simple idea for cut flowers in a jam jar

Sometimes the simplest ideas can be so beautiful.

Take an old jam jar and fill it with cut flowers from the garden to brighten up a lonely corner of the room.

Pick whatever flowers you have in the garden like Scabiosa, lavender, carnation Pinks, cornflowers, verbena bonariensis, alchemilla mollis, which are all seen here. For it's bright green leaves and minty scent, I've added some apple mint. The soft, spiky balls are Eryngium - which will turn blue.

Add some twine for a decorative touch.

Friday, 10 July 2015

A Growing Obsession Hampton Court – the Yardley London Perennial Garden

This year at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I had the opportunity to visit the A Growing Obsession – the Yardley London Perennial Garden. I also volunteered to help at the garden for Perennial, UK’s only charity dedicated to helping all people who work in horticulture, and their families, when times get tough.

The focus of the A Growing Obsession garden is on women’s influence in gardening since the Victorian era and brings together a partnership between quintessentially English floral fragrance house Yardley London and long-standing charity for horticulturists Perennial, both of which have roots firmly planted in British floral heritage.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Chablis & Geology at The Chancery - An evening of Vegetarian fine dining

Courgette flower tempura, smoked yoghurt and confit tomato 

Head to The Chancery for exquisite modern European fine dining...

At an evening themed "Chablis and Geology" held at The Chancery recently, guests were invited by sommelier and master of ceremonies, Douglas Blyde, to "explore the flavours in geology via handmade renditions of the unique, mineral-laden, chilled conduit of Chablis partnered with the pristine, specially-devised plates of young gun chef, Graham Long".

Having earlier informed them of my preference for the vegetarian meal, I was presented with this tantalising menu:

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A recipe for growing & making Chinese cucumber pickles

Chinese cucumber pickle

CHINESE cucumber pickle...
When I lived in Hong Kong and travelled to China on business trips, I was introduced to a kind of cucumber pickle salad that was always served cold during meals.  In this dish, the cucumber slices were dressed in a delicious combination of garlic, vinegar and sesame oil that was so addictive I couldn't stop eating them. Now, every time I think of those crisp, juicy pieces of cucumber sitting in that garlic-ky vinegar, it sends my salivary glands into overdrive.

A few years later and now several thousands of miles away in the Chiltern foothills, I wander down to our kitchen garden, gleeful in anticipation of the young green cucumbers that I know are hanging from the vine. A quick flick of a sharp pen knife releases them and the slender, long fruits are soon laid out on a wooden chopping board ready to be cut up. With my chopsticks, I toss the crisp cucumber half rounds with sesame oil, garlic and rice vinegar - a perfect balance of cool and warmth. Light soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a smattering of finely diced chilli is added for a touch of heat.

Chinese cucumber pickle

Serves 4 as a side


cucumbers (small), chopped into half rounds
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar (optional)


Combine the sesame oil, light soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and chilli.

Place the cucumber into a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

This pickle can be served with roast mackerel, grilled salmon or pork.

If you are looking for rice vinegar, try Sainsbury's rice vinegar, which I used in this recipe.

Growing cucumbers

If you are growing your own cucumbers, pick them small while they are young and crisp.

The more mature and larger cucumbers work better if you scoop out the watery seed content before using.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a greenhouse to grow cucumbers and they can be successfully grown outdoors. Try 'Burpless Tasty Green' which is reliable and productive - I prefer to support the plants with canes to allow them to climb upwards keeping the cucumbers off the ground.

Follow me on Twitter : @fusianliving

Friday, 26 June 2015

Harvesting and podding delicious broad beans

The last few weeks, I have been happily twisting large pods off the broad bean plants. Some pods have decided to go wonky but most are surprisingly straight. Despite what everyone says about picking them teeny tiny, I do leave some of the pods until they are medium sized as I like a mix of the 'meatier' beans and the smaller sweeter ones.  

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Looking for Alliums to buy for your flower garden?

(L-R) Allium 'His Excellency', Allium 'Pinball wizard', Allium 'Purple sensation' and Allium 'multibolbosum'

Trying to decide which alliums to buy for your garden?
Alliums look magnificent in the garden and are stunning as a cut flower. Looking through the catalogues, I always find it difficult to visualise the height and size of the blooms and especially which varieties work together.

At the BBC Gardeners' World Live event this year, Warmenhoven, a specialist in alliums and bulbs put on this incredible display at their outdoor stand. 

Here are some of the incredible Alliums that were on display.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Grow London Fair 2015

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the press evening and Garden Party Charity Preview at GROW London.  GROW London is a contemporary and urban gardening show, running from 19 -21 June 2015 on Hampstead Heath.

The event will also offer a programme of talks, workshops, tours and free consultations to inspire visitors in all things needed to transform any outdoor space into a horticultural heaven. GROW London offers all gardeners, from the experienced to the novice, the chance to learn tips of the trade and garner advice from some of the UK’s gardening experts like the Wild Flowers Company, Sarah Raven, Otter Farm’s Mark Diacono and Laetitia Maklouf.

Visitors to GROW London can also take advantage of free garden design consultations, run by the Society of Garden Designers. If you’re looking for advice on how to transform your garden or dull patch of outdoor space then a 20 minute brainstorm with a professional member of the SGD could provide the inspiration you’re looking for. Visitors can bring along photographs of their garden and rough dimensions, and book in for a session.

This was one of the stunning garden displays created by Petersham Nurseries with Achillea, Zinnia, Sarah Bernhardt peonies and Centranthus rubra.