When I first moved to the UK, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as English wine – it just didn’t occur to me that grapes would grow in this climate. Similarly, the Englishman didn’t know that there was such a thing as Canadian wine, so I suppose we were even! Now that English Wine Week (and what feels like a warm summer) is upon us, I thought I’d share my experience of visiting our local winery and, well, the experience of quaffing some of its produce.
Our local winemaker: Chiltern Valley Winery
The drive to Hambleden is what makes me really appreciate my surroundings. A few miles from home or the shop and we’re in the Chilterns countryside; the word ‘SLOW’ etched on the road merely echoes the mood that we find ourselves in.
Slowing down in the Chilterns countryside
En route to Chiltern Winery
Passing some lovely cottages and proper country pubs, we head up a road through steep woodland and arrive at Old Luxters Barn. The converted 17th century barn buildings house the Chiltern Valley Winery where winemaker David Ealand produces a surprisingly wide and unique range of wines and liqueurs.
Yes, that’s me. There’s a sizable space behind the house that one could call a ‘garden’ if it was tidied, cultivated, levelled out and rid of massive weeds. Not by me, mind you…I just don’t have the patience. My mum has always been a gardener extraordinaire and though I was surrounded by it throughout my childhood, those genes somehow didn’t get passed on to me.
Container gardening, however, appeals to me greatly. That’s especially true if it involves growing something that I can eat. I’ve timed this just right as we seem to be in a period where both container gardening and ‘Grow Your Own’ are reaching a tipping point, which means there are lots of supplies and resources around. Perfect for those with a lack of space, patience, gardening know-how or a combination of all of the above, planting in containers seems like a low-risk and low-maintenance way to get into it. The rewards can be almost instant too, as in the case of herbs and edible leaves which, when bought as small plants, are ready to use and replenish themselves fairly quickly. I like that I can plant things up pot by pot (and in many cases, they don’t even have to be pots – planter bags, old tins, recycled trugs – options are plenty) and after crops are harvested, I can stash away the containers to re-use next year.
I feel I’d be letting myself off too easy if all I did was re-pot some store-bought herb plants, so this year I’m going to try growing potatoes. Though it just might be so.
Herbs and salads to grow on the patio