Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Party Size Strawberry, Vanilla and White Chocolate Jubilee Cake

 The Perfect Cake for The Children To Make

Light vanilla sponge, sandwiched together with lashings of strawberry jam and cream, topped off with fresh strawberries, blueberries and white chocolate.  Oh this is a seriously glorious cake indeed!  I know that using strawberries and blueberries to make a union jack is quite a well known idea, and I loved this one in particular in the Telegraph .. so I'll make no claims to this being my original idea, but my twist is in the addition of white chocolate Maltesers because I wanted to add a but of texture and fun for my children.   

Of course not everyone is a monarchist, however the jubilee is a day where you meet your neighbours, chat, laugh eat and drink with people in your community and I think that it's a good thing to celebrate all that is best about being British, including our food and this cake is perfect for a street party - it's delicious and is really very simple to make and serves 20  ... and if ever there was a time to make the extra afford to make a cake special then if you can use the very best British strawberries, fairtrade vanilla and free range eggs.  Enjoy the celebration!

Serves 20
Prep time 30
Cooking time 30 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes before filling or decorating

For the cake
500g butter or margarine (suitable for baking)
500g Cardamom Sugar
500g self-raising flour
9 large eggs

For the filling
400g of cream cheese
800ml double cream
8 drops of Ndali vanilla essence
175g icing sugar (sifted)
1 pot of strawberry Jam

To decorate
A large punnet of strawberries
60g of white chocolate buttons
100g of white chocolate maltesers 
a large punnet of blueberries

1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4.

2 Using a food mixer, cream together the butter or margarine and Sugar Beat well until white and fluffy.

3 Add 3–4 tablespoons of flour to the mixture, then add the eggs. Adding the flour like this prevents the mixture from curdling. If it does, just keep adding flour a little at a time, beating the mixture to ensure it is evenly distributed. Continue mixing and add the rest of the flour,

4 Divide the mixture between 28cm x 22cm x 6cm rectangular cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

5 Once fully cooled you can carefully cut the slight dome off each cake to make the cake top flat using a large bread knife. Then make the filling. Whip the cream cheese, cream, vanilla essence and icing sugar until thick.  Spread the jam on the base of one cake and the cream on the other and sandwich together using just over half of this mix.
6 Sandwich the two halves together and spread the rest of the cream on the top of the cake.  Using a reference to the Union jack decorate the top in the shape of the flag, using the strawberries, chocolate and blueberries to represent each colour.

TIPS Use the leftover sponge, from cutting off the dome and make summer fruit trifles with the spare blueberries and strawberries for your party.

 There are lots of other wonderful Jubilee cakes .. here are some more!

Ren has some beautiful Jubilee cupcakes on her site ! 

Edd Kimber has this gorgeous Jubilee cake .. in layers. 
Pebble Soup Jubilee Cake

I Love Helen's Jelly Bean Jubilee cake 

The BBC have a  simple Jubilee cake to make

Monday, 28 May 2012

The RHS Flower Show Chelsea Part 2

I suppose if I ask myself why I loved Chelsea flower show so very much it is because I was inspired.  Really inspired.  I’ve come home tingling with excitement, with new ideas about how to design my own gardens and with a large wish list of things I want to buy and plant.  It’s not just the gardens that are inspiring, but the exhibitors themselves go to a huge effort too.

One of my absolute must haves for this year is the new rose from David Austin Roses called tranquility ( it’s the white rose in the collage below)  you can listen to the Audio below as I caught up with David Austin to find out a bit more about this years roses

Th Laurent Perrier Garden, Avon Bulbs display, Clematis 

I was also really delighted to see Burgeon and Ball at the show .. the stand looked fabulous and there was so many things I wanted to get.  The latest thing are some strap on knee protectors .. which I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about .. probably because I don’t think that they will stay up on my knees!  But I can recommend their kneelo which I use almost daily!

I was delighted to debunk the can’t move a peony myth as I talked to a peony specialist.  

 I then went on the find out from Jan  from Harveys Nurseries why I have killed two lots of Himalayan Blue poppies..  I don’t think I will risk a third all the same as I don’t have acidic soil !

The Real Flower Company, Peonies, Burgeon and Ball, Tranquility from David Austin Roses, & Harveys Nursery plants for shade. 

Of course I was ever on the quest for supporting the British Flower industry so I was really pleased to see The Real Flower Company and I caught up with their beautiful posies and Rococo chocolates. 

 I must also thank interflora for the tickets I won for Saturdays Chelsea RHS flower show!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The RHS Flower show Chelsea - Part 1

The Arthritis UK Research Garden 
Well the Queen was there yesterday and so was I ! For years now I have been thinking about going to the Royal Horticultural Show at Chelsea. If never quite got round to actually going and very nearly didn’t today.  With two poorly daughters over the weekend it seemed that I was going to have to stay at home and read about it from everyone else, however, the girls picked up and I did get to go.  It was really is good as everyone says.   There is plenty of amazing coverage about the show everywhere so apologies if you are already Chelsead out, but I wanted to share some of the highlights all the same.

There were people from all over the world there, with film crews, celebrities and press everywhere,  it has been a long day. I have so much to write about, but for this post I picked my favorite gardens from the many and I will write about the rest in a separate post in a day or so. 

Here are my favourite gardens.  My favourite was the Arthritis Research UK Garden ( above) which was designed by award-winning landscape and garden designer Tom Hoblyn. Inspired by the great Renaissance gardens of Italy, it certainly does capture the drama, and the structure was spot on.  I particularly loved the use of the trees as  the bark was just beautifully textured. 

The M & G Garden

 The focal point of ‘The M&G Garden’  is a large copper sculpture made from approx 3,800 copper washers!  (Watch out for the metal thieves !)  The sculpture is Reminiscent of a piece of arts and crafts jewellary  and is designed to convey energy and movement by weaving through the garden and water 
The Brewin Dolphin Garden 

I loved this garden and the structure.  Designed by Cleve West the beech hedging and yew topiary forms, contrast with loose layers of herbaceous plants.  It’s kind of romantic in a grown up way and a sense of timelessness to the garden  .. it wouldn’t be out of place 50 years ago in a classical country house kind of setting. 

The Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden 

Created by award-winning garden designer Arne Maynard,  the Laurent Perrier Bicentenary Garden has a romantic and soft planting scheme with structure from the topiary.  I loved this garden so much .. I think I may have to use elements of it for my own garden, because it has such an easy elegance. 

The Telegraph Garden

For this year's Telegraph Garden, the designer Sarah Price has allot to live up to as this is her first Chelsea garden.  She set rugged rock and water against a delightful and delicate flora to compose as a tribute to wild Britain. 

L'Occitane Garden 
The essence of the wild Corsican Maquis - 8-time Chelsea gold medal-winning garden designer, Peter Dowle to brought the dramatic colours, scents and textures of this unique landscape to Chelsea today.  It looked stunning and oddly as though it had always been there. 

Quiet Time: DMZ Forbidden Garden

The barbed wire fence surrounding the garden really makes you stop and think. Created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean conflict.  I read that the indigenous Korean plants that have thrived in the almost pristine conditions in the sanctuary of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) and this design highlights the tensions and lasting effects of the conflict.

The fence is hung with old rusty cans and what looks like casually thrown bottles, which contain letters from separated families and friends.  This garden certainly illustrates the sense of longing felt by people kept apart by the conflict. 

Like I said ..  it makes you think.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Asparagus Quiche

Asparagus tips

Yesterday I spent the day with Sarah Raven in her beautiful gardens at Perch Hill.  I’ll be writing up her amazing approach to salads and cut flowers in the next few days, but I mention where I was because of the utterly delicious asparagus quiche she served for lunch.

Crumbly buttery short pastry, with Gruyère      cheese and asparagus tips served with one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.  Sarah’s layered salads include a base lettuce, salad leaves, herbs, salad vegetables and edible flowers.  Salad will never be boring again. 

Back to my own asparagus quiche recipe - I had just had a sample pack of Secretts asparagus send to me, and I spent a happy half an hour photographing them before making a quiche.  I have to admit these elegant, juicy British spears were astonishingly fresh and married with salty anchovies, with a sidekick of sour from the capers they were really superb.  Although this recipe is an old favourite, I was so inspired by Sarah’s twist of gruyere cheese I decided to change just one element from a recipe in Prepped and so I have added some Gruyère. It really adds a lovely texture, making it chewy and soft.  Sarah's original recipe can be found in Sarah’s book Food for family and friends.

In the mean time my top time and money saving tips for this recipe are:

1 Halve the cost of your pastry by making your own.  

2 Use up the bottoms of the asparagus in a soup recipe -  Arther Potts Dawson has a superb recipe for just this in his new book Eat Your Veg

3 Make three lots of pastry at the same time and blind bake all three.  Use the first for the quiche today.  Pop the second in the fridge to use for up at a week.  Pop the third in the freezer for any time in the next three months, and you can have another two quick no effort lunch on the table in minutes. 

Asparagus tart

Serves  6 - 8
Prep time 10 minutes

12  in season British asparagus spears
40grams of Parmesan
175g fresh Gruyère grated
2 tbsp capers
30g anchovies in olive oil drained
3 free range eggs, beaten
200ml of British semi-skimmed milk
375g pack of ready roll all butter short crust pastry

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

2 Roll out the pastry and line a large quiche dish. ( mine is about 12 inches )  Blind bake the pasty for 15 minutes using baking parchment and baking beans to weigh the paper down. Once baked, remove the paper and cut the tops of the asparagus to fit and arrange as you find attractive. Scatter over the cheese, capers, and drained anchovies.

3 In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together and pour into the dish. Bake for 25–30 minutes until it has risen and is a golden colour.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

12 top tips to Reduce Ironing

Ironing my Rachel Ashwell Aprons 

There is no glory to be had in anything you do if the house is a mess and the children are hungry.

Whenever I get busy with work my ironing basket menaces me.  The busier I am then the more it seems to grow until I get to the point where I have to have an empty basket and I tackle it in one mammoth ironing session, usually late into the night.

The thing is this.. I really resent ironing.  It makes me mad that in this age of equality that I have to iron for 5 people, as well as all the other things I do.  The odd thing is that given the time I weirdly enjoy it.  Listening to Woman’s Hour and ironing when I have the time is really rather relaxing.

It’s a task that falls to me. My husband wouldn’t even know where to find the iron (don’t get me started!) and to be fair I do have some domestic help .. but with a very limited budget it is not enough to get the laundry done.  Even having occasional domestic help actually causes more ironing.  If ever the task of the children’s bedrooms comes up my help’s answer is to throw all the children’s clothes into the wash.  Of course that is an instant tidy option and it looks like she has done an amazing job. In reality it is a whole heap more work for me and yes  …  I know I should tidy up much more before the odd occasion that my cleaner comes -  but I don’t always have time and managing a cleaner efficiently is a whole other blog post!

1 So, aside from buying a really seriously good iron with super turbo steam, I’ve been researching into efficient and effective ways of reducing my ironing and here is what I have come up with so far....

2 I’ve stopped cramming too much washing in the machine, as clothes need room to spin around.  It seems that the closer the clothes are compacted during the washing cycle, the more they are likely to come out creased, squashed and needing more ironing.

3 I’m washing heavy items like jeans and blankets separately - heavy items seem to press onto the light ones and crease them.

4 Over dry clothes are a nightmare to iron. There are many less wrinkles by not over-drying my clothes  I stop the dryer cycle a little earlier than necessary and or bring clothes in from outside while they are still slightly damp and there is also a reduced ironing option on my dryer and washing machine .. although I am not convinced they work!

I love the Lakeland Airer
5 Drying outside seems to knock out allot of wrinkles  .. but only if you peg things in the right place. By not overloading my dryer, and leaving it about 1/3 to 1/4 empty it results in evenly dried clothing, as well as less wrinkling. I discovered a brilliant  invention courtesly of Lakeland called a  Dry soon 3 tier heated tower Airer.  If I fold things up and leave things to dry on it then flat items can be put away dry the next day, and with a running cost of only 5p a day I think it's a brilliant bit of kit for reducing ironing. 

6 I do find being disciplined and folding clothes as soon as the drying cycle ends helps not end.  While the clothes are still warm massively reduces the time spent ironing and the creases are softer.

7 Giving the clothes a good shake first to remove water means that the wrinkles drop out and reduces the need for a thorough iron should you still have to iron the item.

8 There are also some things that really do not need to be ironed unless you're a fanatic. .. I suppose because my mother is a crease free fanatic I have inherited this attitude .. but  if I think of which things I don't really mind un-ironed there are lots

9 Buying wrinkle-free clothes helps.  Particularly my non ironing husbands shirts .. M& S do a range of easy iron shirts.  

10 The children are going to have to learn about self-responsibility and they soon learn how to lessen the load .. so I am going to get the kids to put there own things away .. although supervising this is actually harder then putting it all away myself !

11 Doing the ironing in the bedroom means that the bed is used to sort my laundry, and hangers and wardrobes are close a hand, and whilst ironing I do try and progress from articles or garments needing the lowest temperature to those requiring the highest, and I always iron collars, cuffs, and hems from puckering, on the wrong side first. 
 More ironing tips here. 

12 I read that a budget quick spray starch can be made at home by slowly adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 2 cups water. Stir until the starch is dissolved, and pour the blend into a clean spray bottle. Spray fabrics lightly when ironing. .. I’ve yet to try it .. !

If you have any tips on reducing ironing even more please share!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

It's OK to Be a Bit Messy & The Design Service That Makes My Shabby Look Chic

 Shabby Chic Interiors by Rachel Ashwell

The perfect...  soufflé, haircut, cupcake, handbag, relationship, house, dinner party, carpet, makeup, the perfect boobs even!  .....  these are just a few of the headlines in magazines I flicked through whilst I in a waiting room recently.  Todays magazines are not designed to make you happy.   In fact they just make me feel even more overwhelmed. 

On the one hand I am really accepting of other’s faults, and yet on the other I judge myself with unreasonable harshness. I have often been guilty of setting my own unrealistic expectations of life. I am not slim enough.  My house is not tidy enough.  My things are not perfect enough.  Of course I have certain friends who, whilst being lovely, seem to glide along in a perfect unruffled life.  Whenever I pop by unexpectedly,  they have houses that are as neat as pins, and seem effortlessly chic whatever life throws at them. 

I  have a prefect  friend keeps the perfect house and who doesn’t work, and yet until recently I would, knowing I was being unreasonable, compare myself to her and feel less than adequate. 

You see I am the daughter of a perfectionist.  For my mother everything has to be just right.  If a mug has a chip in it she will throw it away.  Unkempt hair is just not acceptable, and if there is a button missing, a creased skirt, or a hem that is un-tacked it will not do.  Still now at my age,  I exasperate my lovely mother because I am not perfect. 

I am not saying that I don’t take care of things.  I do.  I try. I am not far off most days .. but despite my best attempts for years at trying to be a perfectionist I am not. I love ruffled shirts that don’t have to be ironed, or linen jackets that are rumpled, I like old furniture that has seen better days and I really rather like a bit of chaos, and I feel uncomfortable with very tidy people. 

I deviate .. but here is a pretty good example of an attempts to be prefect.  I once had my curly red hair cut to jaw length, dyed blonde and straightened to look like a friend who had what I considered to be perfect hair.  She had a straight blonde bob.  I woke up the following morning to find my hair curled up around my ears and no matter how I tried I could not get it to be straight.  I can laugh now at how crazy I was to think a hair cut would change my life,   but the following day I cried.  I looked like a mushroom.  I looked ridiculous.

It is only really in the past six or eight months that I am finally feeling that I am happy being me. I am happy being imperfect. When I asked myself why I am so content I had to  admit that it is mostly because I feel at home in a house that has some imperfections too. ..  and I find them to be beautiful. 

The key moment in accepting my own imperfections was quite remarkable ..   I  came across a book called Shabby Chic Interiors by Rachel Ashwell. Rachel’s  philosophy of embracing the imperfections and seeing the beauty  in the shabby was like a breath of fresh air through my life.  Here is a person who delights in real life. She shows in her approach that it is ok to be a bit messy.  That faded curtains are chic and my slightly crumpled look is actually really beautiful.   This is exactly how life is and this is exactly how I am. 

Rachel Ashwell's offers a Home Design Service

However getting  this look is not as straight forward as it looks.  Looking effortless actually takes effort and making my shabby actually look chic I found to be quite a challenge.  I want it to be chic and elegant and not just messy ..  and although I’m really not far off  the look, coordinating a house to come together as a whole is hard . A look that flows without being the same in each room looks simple, but it actually requires some clever design to get the look right as well as getting a few key pieces. 

Having found this fabulous book I discovered that there is a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture Shop in Notting Hill.  I went and you can read about my visit here,  however I must say again that I was made so welcome, even with my three children.  

As I was chatting to Pascale who is in charge of design in the shop about what would look best in my house I discovered to my delight that they offer a home service.  Obviously hugging a complete stranger in a shop is not socially acceptable .. but really ..  an interior designer to come to my home and help me to get this look right!  ( I could hardly believe it and have felt the need to tell everyone I've met since that they offer such an amazing home design service!) 

I booked in an instant and  Pascale came over to the house this week.

In just a week or so I'll be looking at a mood board for the house.  I'm so excited.  

In the meantime I'm really pleased to be able to offer a copy of Rachel's book as a prize. 

To enter please check out Rachel's site and comment telling me which would be your must have item..   ( mine is the sofa!)


Please see competition Rules before entering. This giveaway is open to all readers over 18 with a UK mainland address.  The winner will be chosen using an online randomiser and announced on 4th June 2012 You need to have a profile the allow me to get back in touch however please do not include your email in the actual comment as well.

This competition on behalf of  Ryland Peters and Small and they will be responsible for organizing the prize with the winner. Their decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

There is one main way to enter and there are  5 more chances to win .. . and you must leave a separate comment for each bonus entry otherwise they will not be counted

TO ENTER Please check out Rachel's site and comment telling me which would be your must have item.. 

For a second chance to win please tweet this post using the button below and you MUST comment with your twitter ID telling me you have done so. ( You many do this up to 3 times a day)

For a third chance to win please follow @Rachelashwell on Twitter and comment below to tell me in a comment that you have done so.

For a fourth chance to win tweet me @VanessaKimbell and tell me as a comment that you have done so  .. and 

For a 5th Chance to win Follow Rachel Ashwell on Facebook  and please comment to say you have followed.

The winner will be picked by a randomiser from the comments. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Good Things to Eat by Lucas Hollweg

Lucas Hollweg tucking in to his Lemon and Prawn Risotto

I had an email this evening from The Guild of Food Writers.  For one tiniest moment I thought I had been nominated for an award. I’m not.  I’m not sure why I would even think that I would be ..  I suppose when you put your heart into something for so long it’s normal to imagine that you might be though.  I felt a little silly until I spotted that Lucas Hollweg’s book Good Things To Eat (Collins) has been nominated for the Jeremy Round Award for Best First Book and then I smiled  .. and smiled some more because along side Lucas’s nomination is Bryn’s Kitchen by Bryn Williams (Kyle Books) and
How To Make Bread by (Ryland Peters & Small)

I’ve not come across Emmanuel Hadjiandreou  .. however, I’ve caught up with both Bryn and Lucas recently and you can listen in to an interview and read more about Bryn here.

It’s funny that Bryn’s book and Lucas’s are both books I’ve been cooking from regularly.  They are both delicious, no nonsense straightforward recipes that anyone can really cook.  I’d have a hard time picking my favorite ..  so it’s a good job I don’t have to choose.

Lucas popped over not so many weeks ago and we spent a happy rainy Sunday afternoon cooking from his new book.  My husband, happy to be let off any domestic duties, carried on decorating upstairs whilst the children adopted Lucas instantly. 

There is something delightful about Lucas.  He is easy company. Children have a natural instinct about people and they adored him.  As the rain pattered down we drank wine and stirred, whilst putting the world to rights.  Before long Lucas was serving up Lemon and Prawn Risotto and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Caramelized Oranges to us all. We devoured all  ..  my family looking as though they had never been fed in their lives!

It was truly wonderful food.  

Lucas spent the rest of the afternoon making sourdough with the children to get the recipe right for The Rose Blossom Bakery (  you can read more about that here. )

I’ve since cooked this combination several times and although I have shared the recipes here, with kind permission of both the publisher Collins and Lucas .. .. I would highly recommend buying Good Things to Eat.  They really are good recipes and think on reflection it should actually have been called Really Good things to Eat.

Lemon and prawn risotto
For 2
1 litre (1 ¾ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
1tbsp olive oil
25g (1oz) butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
½ celery stick, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
175g (6oz) risotto rice
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) dry white wine
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon, and a few squeezes of the juice
2 big handfuls of cooked, peeled prawns
2tbsp double cream
A big handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Heat the stock in a small saucepan and keep it warm.

In another, larger pan, heat the oil and half the butter, then add the onion, celery and garlic and cook over a gentle heat for 5-6 minutes, or until soft but not coloured. Add the rice, turn up the heat a little, and stir for a minute or two until well coated in the fat. Pour in the wine and stir again until the liquid has been absorbed.

Next, add 2 ladlefuls of the hot stock and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and again stir until absorbed. Keep adding stock in this way until the rice grains are just al dente and the sauce around them has turned creamy. Use a splash of boiling water if the stock runs out. The end result should flow gently and slowly when you move it around the pan. It generally takes 17-20 minutes to get to this stage, depending on your rice, your pan and your hob.

Once the rice is cooked, season it well, then stir in the lemon zest, prawns, cream and remaining butter. Keep back a few of the basil leaves for decoration and tear the rest into the risotto. Add a couple of squeezes of lemon and stir everything together, then cover with a lid and leave to stand off the heat for 3 minutes. Taste and season again, then ladle into wide bowls. Slice the rest of the basil into fine strips and scatter over the top.

Buttermilk panna cotta 
6 small sheets of leaf gelatine
500ml double cream
1 big Ndali vanilla pod, halved (or a tsp of natural vanilla extract)
100g caster sugar
500ml buttermilk
Soak gelatine in cold water for 5 mins until soft and spongey. Get the buttermilk from the fridge and let it warm up a little. 
Meanwhile bring cream to simmer with the sugar, vanilla pod and scraped out seeds (or vanilla powder or extract), stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a minute.
Squeeze the gelatine to get rid of excess water, then add the floppy sheets to the hot cream. Leave to melt for a few seconds, then whisk in. Leave to stand for an hour at room temperature, stirring occasionally, so the vanilla can infuse and the liquid becomes thick enough to hold the seeds in place. Remove the vanilla pod. If using.
Gradually whisk the buttermilk into the liquid, then strain into a jug through a sieve to get rid of any clumps of gelatine or milk skin that might have formed. Pour into 125ml dariole moulds or small smooth cups. Chill overnight until set.


Buttermilk Panna Cotta .. on a Rachel Ashwell Napkin

Caramelized Oranges 
3 (blood) oranges
100g granulated sugar
100ml water
1 cinnamon stick and/or a few smashed cardamom pods

Use a zester to shred the outside skin from one of the orange and put to one side. Cut the skin and pith from all three oranges and slice the flesh horizontally. Put in a bowl.
Put the sugar, 50ml water and the spices in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Leave to simmer, without stirring this time, until you have a deep caramel. Remove the spices (careful – caramel = hot) and add the remaining water. You might want to do this over the sink. Stir until the caramel dissolves again.
Pour most of the caramel over the orange slices.
Add the orange zest to the remaining caramel and return the pan to the heat for a minute or so, until the zest is bathed in the sugary sauce. Spoon over the fruit. Leave to cool and for the flavours to mingle.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Top Ten English Roses for fragrance

I'm making my favourite cake .. it's Cardamon, Rose and Rhubarb and I'm off to the first ever Clandestine cake club in about an hour.  Apparently there are 21 people bringing cakes !

The rain has been constant for 8 days and whilst we've had an afternoon of sunshine it is now  raining again.   I have to admit I've getting a little crazy being inside and took to fantasising about the summer.   I imagine the warm sun on my face, a cool lemonade in my hand and in my head I am wandering about the garden listening to the bees humming whilst languidly pushing my nose into deep velvet scented English roses and draw in their heavenly scent.  Are you there with me? 

I do love roses and there are none better than David Austin, but I have to admit that whilst I appreciate a beautiful  rose I am absolutely smitten if they are fragrant, so I thought do a bit of virtual gardening and post a list of the top ten Fragrant English roses. 

Gertrude Jekyll has a powerful and beautifully rounded perfume we regard as the quintessential old rose fragrance: strong, rich, complex and perfectly balanced.

Munstead Wood has a strong old rose scent with warm, fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry and damson – what Robert Calkin describes as, “a real red-rose fragrance”.

Lady Emma Hamilton’s strong, deliciously fruity fragrance, with hints of pear, grape and citrus fruits, complements its tangerine-orange and yellow colouring perfectly.

Wollerton Old Hall is beautifully fragrant, boasting the distinctive English myrrh scent. At certain times, an intriguing element of grapefruit can be detected. Wollerton Old Hall is on my visitant list this summer! 

Harlow Carr’s heady old rose scent sits perfectly with its classic old rose form and enhances its gem-like beauty.  I love this one .. the fragrance has been described as reminiscent of rose-based cosmetics.

The Generous Gardener’s award-winning fragrance is a compellingly delicious mixture of old rose, musk and myrrh.  It can be trained to grow as a beautiful climber and I've got six in my garden ... . on a north west wall. 

Princess Alexandra of Kent has a delightful fresh tea fragrance that over time changes to lemon, eventually taking on an enticing hint of blackcurrants. ..   I'm going to be putting a fair few of these in my front border this year. 

Jubilee Celebration’s striking colouring is matched by a wonderfully bold fruity fragrance, with delectable hints of fresh lemon and raspberry and there is no doubt that the queen has sniffed this one! 

Golden Celebration’s magnificent yellow, tea-scented blooms often develop a mouth-watering combination of Sauterne wine and strawberry notes.

Port Sunlight’s contemporary, rich apricot colouring provides a charming contrast to its classic, rich, pure tea fragrance and perfect of the back of a border as it tall. 

photo's courtesy of David Austin Roses