From seed to service – the Potager Garden diary

By 15th May 2024 No Comments

May 2024


Where does the time go? It was not so long ago that the Croucher potager beds and hotel borders were barren wastelands of nothing… not any more.

It was not so long ago we were all hiding indoors, sheltering from the cold and rain… not any more.

It was not so long ago that myself and Jason would spend days at the potager without seeing a single soul, everyone being too afraid of the mud and water to venture down… not any more.

Not only is the potager coming to life with the new vegetables and fruit for the kitchen, but we’re also being inundated with guests and diners, wandering down for a chinwag over the potager fence, or perhaps to check out what vegetables would be on their plate that night.

It’s lovely to see you all again because, as any gardener knows, there is no better excuse to take a break from the hard work than to discuss what’s in season, what’s coming and what’s been.

I’ll tell you a sample of what’s coming (currently filling my greenhouse) – Habanero chocolate chilli peppers, luffa gourds, the classic Gardener’s Delight tomatoes, Goldmine courgettes, Indigo Drop tomatoes, hispi cabbages and red cabbages, kohl rabi and leeks.

These will soon be going into the vegetables plots that we have been working hard to prepare.

But it’s not all about the vegetables.

The end of May marks the relaunch of the Crouchers Sunset Bar (May 31 to be precise).

There are hand-crafted cocktails to be had (especially during happy hour 4-7pm, but don’t tell anyone I told you), our resident DJ playing alfresco tunes and plenty of nibbles to share.

Check out the website to book a spot or for more information.

Aside from the delights of cocktails, music and grub, there is the wonderful herbaceous border to take in.

It’s been my pet project since starting at Crouchers in 2018 (the bosses won’t mind me saying it was a mess originally), and now it displays dahlias, roses, nepeta, lupins, ajuga, troillus, asters, kniphofia, aquilegia, crocosmia, heuchera, gladioli, primroses and rudbeckia, to name just a few.

To the unitiated, the plants probably look like they’ve been thrown in and left to their own devices – this, I can assure you, is not the case.

There are many hints and tips on how to create an effective border, and I am by no means an expert in the field.

However, I’ll offer three tips that have kept me in good stead.

1: Consider colours – I prefer a mixture of pastel colours to prevent a jarring assault on the eyes. Too may bright colours creates, for me, a less than relaxing vibe.

2: Flow – I try to pull visitors along the border by creating a repetition of plants and colours, something to keep the eye moving and the feet walking.

3: Height – it’s an obvious thing to highlight, but tall plants at the back and shorter plants at the front. I also like to keep the plants that spread (nepeta or achemilla for example) near the front to soften the border’s edge.

I’ve explained these tips in a very basic way, and there is a load of information out there for wannabe gardeners.

I did say I’d offer three tips, and they did come from the RHS handbook I read many moons ago, but here’s a fourth you won’t find in a handbook.

4: Who cares – it’s your border, if you want a particular plant that doesn’t meet the colour, flow or height parameters, who cares, it’s your border. Plant it and enjoy it (preferably with a Crouchers cocktail or two).