Don’t you just love this time of year, when the new season finds the garden and surrounding countryside romping ahead in all its greenery, the weather is getting milder and dare I say it, even warm and sunny?
When I am not tied to my desk with work, it is outside in the garden that I like to be. We are now enjoying the fruits of our Autumn labour here at home, with a magnificent show of tulips, with the first alliums about to bud in amongst them. It is also a very busy time, with the greenhouse filling up with sewn seed trays, preparation of the kitchen garden beds, mowing and the back breaking job of weeding and mulching, but hopefully saving us hours of future weeding over the summer. I guess you could say that the gardening season is truly underway!
In amongst all this busyness in the garden, it is also lovely to take time out to enjoy the simple pleasures that this end of April/early May brings, and my two favourites without a doubt are Bluebells and Asparagus.
We are fortunate to have beautiful woodland bordering our property, and my daily lunchtime walks with the dogs at the moment are extra special, as I enjoy the spectacular sea of blue and delicate scent, that has spread throughout in the last couple of weeks.
Another exciting arrival over the next few weeks, is the short lived but much anticipated Asparagus season! Our local Asparagus farm here in Kent is the focus of all of us living nearby, finding us eagerly checking their website for an announcement or driving past in the hope of seeing the welcome sign positioned at the top of their driveway, signaling the announcement of a harvest!
To buy beautiful big bunches of delicious, ultra fresh stems, still squeaky and moist from that mornings’ pickings, is a simple but joyful luxury. Mostly I like to simply roast the Asparagus in the Aga with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, then serve with shavings of parmesan and sometimes a few slices of pancetta. A boiled egg becomes a real treat too, with lightly steamed, juicy spears dipped in instead of toast soldiers.
Another favourite is to save the slightly firmer end bits of the Asparagus, and mix with a few extra whole spears and a handful or two of fresh spinach and chicken stock, making a delicious and vibrant coloured soup. Topped with cream and fresh viola flowers, it makes a very pretty and perfect early summer lunch recipe. Or try Sarah Raven’s Chilled Asparagus Soup recipe, or the Asparagus and Gruyere tart…
Bon appétit and happy gardening!