Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Style is but a fruit tree

On Sunday, I was a guest at a rather lovely lunch on a tiny rooftop in deepest inner Hillgate Village (a curiously colourful and hidden secret part of Notting Hill). It was memorable for several reasons: chiefly, it just happened to be one of the rare sunny days that we’ve had this summer in London – no umbrellas, tarpaulin or alternative venue required.

The setting was so unusual – a cottage garden in the sky with far-reaching views across the city - plus plums, cherries, tomatoes and grape vines growing all around. We enjoyed a sumptuous array of summer salads and desserts - like homemade tangy lemon ice cream, accompanied by succulent fruits of the roof terrace. The naturally beautiful bark-edged oak dining table was handmade by the host (the architect and creator of our surroundings) and the table was set with fabulous blue and white willow pattern style place settings and adorned with an abundance of freshly made fare.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I'm unable to show you how absolutely perfect it all was.

Anyway, I reckon that some fruits almost grow by themselves, if you just take the time to plant them. Most soft fruits even grow quite nicely in containers and, if well watered, can be surprisingly hardy - like the figs, shown here, that I’ve grown in a couple of pots – quite remarkable for a wet summer in London (plus a bit of good karma).

Due to the vagaries of our (un-great) British climate, the figs may not ripen properly, but can still be used to make the tastiest jam. I’d suggest you go out and find somewhere to plant them now … even the smallest space will do – and I can recommend an architect who’ll find you room where you didn’t know you had it. Why not bring a touch of the stylish English country garden into town?

Just thought I’d also mention that we’ve got this wonderful retro 1960s raspberry jam pot at ShopCurious – a collectable curiosity for fans of vintage perspex, or a curiously simple and suitably sweet gift for lovers of sensible style and old fashioned English country pastimes like jam-making.

I’d suggest you think seriously about 'growing your own' – and you can blow a raspberry to anyone who tells you it’s not better to eat organic.

Will you?

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