Archive for March, 2010


 We currently have two borders set aside for potatoes. We grow them on a 4 year rotation along with other crops, in order to control pest levels. We grow all the crops organically and order most of them from organic seed suppliers or from a local potato day.  The potatoes are at present being ‘chitted’ in the Bothy, (in egg trays). This encourages strong green chits to develop on the tuber prior to planting, and may speed up the process at the beginning.  It is thought to be most beneficial for the early potatoes.

 The seed tubers we use are a mixture of the 4 main categories (listed below), but we mainly grow the first early and second early tubers to avoid blight. Blight is a fungal disease, which has been particularly troublesome for a long time.  In recent years it seems to have been even more in evidence, mainly because of the current spell of wet summers.  The disease thrives in the high humidity and relatively mild temperatures.  We aim to plant out the first early potatoes from late March onwards, depending on soil temperatures and the conditions on the ground.

FIRST EARLIES Ready June to July
SECOND EARLIES Ready July-August
EARLY MAIN CROP Ready late July – August
LATE MAIN CROP Ready August – September

 The Modern Varieties

 The main border is for the modern varieties, bred since 1950.  These usually have higher yields, good appearance, a consistent shape and size and have been bred for their better all round disease resistance.  The main crop varieties when harvested later in the summer are destined for the restaurant, where they are used for potato salads, soups and baked potatoes.

 The Heritage Varieties

A smaller border is used for the heritage varieties (pre 1950).  Often these have survived because of their different flavour, as well as a long association with a particular area.  We were given some tubers of the Gloucester Black Kidney last year, thought to have been grown for many years in areas of Gloucestershire.  It is a small blue potato (main crop), which interestingly survived the widespread blight in 2009.  The heritage varieties are mainly used for display in the Harvest Festival in the Bothy in the autumn.

 One other unknown potato which we saved from last year is Vitelotte – a purple skinned, purple fleshed potato, which we will trial again this season.


Arran Pilot (1930) First Early – Popular Scottish garden variety Amadine – Second Early.  A lovely Charlotte cross giving high yields of oval shaped potatoes
Beauty of Bute (heritage – date not known)Second Early. Round creamy flesh with pretty pink eyes Amorosa – First Early.  One of the few red earlies, with a good waxy taste
Belle de Fontenay (1885) Early Main CropThe classic French salad potato, curved shape and yellowish skin Anoe – Popular since its recent introduction from France. Similar in appearance and taste to Belle de Fontenay
Edzell Blue (pre 1915) Second Early.  Blue skinned potato with a floury taste Foremost (1954) First Early.  Popular  with allotment gardeners, because of its good cooking qualities
Gloucester Black Kidney – Main Crop.  Local potato, date unknown – good blight resistance Toluca – Second Early.  Good blight resistance
International Kidney (1879) Early Main Crop.  Commercially traded as Jersey Royals.  A good salad potato Sarpo Axona – Main crop.  Good blight resistance (not from an organic seed supplier)
Lord Roseberry (1920) Late First Early. Red skin, white flesh.  Thought to come from the Dalmeny estate near Edinburgh  
Red Duke of York (1942). First Early.  Deep red skin colour. It has an excellent flavour             


Vitelotte being chitted


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A virtual Soup-athon!

During February we trialled offering only home made soups in our Restaurant instead of a full lunch menu.  With thousands of visitor’s through the garden during our ‘Snowdrop’ month we were concerned that everyone should be offered not only a delicious lunch but a lunch which was quick to serve!

Needless to say our range of home made soups all created by the restaurants co-owner, Claire were a huge success with some people returning through the month to sample all the different flavours.

One of the most popular was Indian Pea, which is listed below for you to try at home.  Of course we grow most of our vegetables in the Kitchen Garden and use them throughout the year in our dishes but if you don’t have a vegetable patch then Claire suggests ‘why not pop along to your local farmers market to buy really fresh ingredients to make homemade seasonal dishes’.

Photo: Claire, Co-owner of the Restaurant making a batch of Lemon Cupcakes.

Rococo Garden Indian Pea Soup

2 tbsp vegetable oil

225g Floury potatoes

1 large onion

2 garlic gloves

1 tsp garam masala

1tsp ground coriander

1tsp ground cumin

900ml homemade vegetable soup

1 red chilli

100g fresh peas or fresh frozen peas

4 tbsp natural yogurt


Fresh coriander to garnish.


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan add diced potato, onion and garlic saute gently for 5 minutes.  Add ground spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in vegetable stock, chilli and bring mixture to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add peas and cook for a further 5 minutes.

To serve stir in yogurt and garnish with fresh coriander.  We serve ours with thick slices of homemade seeded bread.

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During the year we run a series of different garden based course’s, from learning the basics of growing your own with Award Winning Garden Designer Paul Hervey-Brookes to Espalier Fruit Training with our Head Gardener, Chris Hitchcock.  This year we are running a series of floristry courses with Jayne Morriss, who is a Chelsea Medalist and member of the National Association of Floral Societies.  Jayne’s course ‘A Celebration of Flowers’ take place on the 8th of July and is an RHS Recommended course.  Members of the RHS and Friends of the Rococo Garden are entitled to a discount on the ticket price.  The day is full of fun & learning with Jayne showing you how to create floral arrangements suitable for celebrations.  From Parties at home to simply wedding flowers she will start with a demonstration and then in the afternoon after a home cooked lunch participants get creative and make their own arrangement to take away.  For full details of the course on offer in the garden this year click here.

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